To start, it bears mentioning that I'm a previous Nuance (Dragon Naturally Speaking) customer, so I had no delusions about the company before selecting OmniPage 18. If you aren't a customer, then you should be aware that: 1) Their customer service is sketchy at best; 2) They'll nickel and dime you six ways from Sunday; and 3) If you give them your email address, they'll send you every Nuance-related marketing e-bumf from here to the end of time. With that said, after months of using OmniPage 18, here are my thoughts:
I have three operating systems across all of my computers: Windows XP, Vista, and 7, each with system requirements exceeding the minimum required for OmniPage. My goal was to try the software across each one, however, after dealing with the headache that was installation on the XP machine, I reconsidered. The autorun refused to automatically run, so I launched the set up file manually. After the software offered me a successful installation message, I launched it only to be greeted by a cryptic error message moments before the program crashed and closed. Rather than quit, I tried my hand at troubleshooting and discovered the problem--and it wasn't pretty. (At this point, I will note that Windows XP users should simply avoid this software, especially the technophobes.)
Once I had the software up and running, I gave the graphic user interface (GUI) a once over. It seemed rather simple and intuitive, but I quickly learned its appearance was deceptive if you intended to do more than a simple OCR conversion. (And by "simple OCR conversion" I mean clean black text on white background without images--usually of the kind originally created in word processing programs.) If you intend to use the extended features--for instance, a picture from your camera, or converting from a scanned book or a scanned document with an other-than-super-bright-white background--the trouble starts.
What's worse is that the help documentation goes so far as to be thoroughly unhelpful, possibly detrimental. One needs a healthy amount of patience, an inquisitive spirit without aversion to experimenting with software settings (which is why I told the technophobes to run away), and a pen and paper with which to create one's own help documentation as one discovers through trial and error how to complete certain tasks. (At this point, if this doesn't sound appealing to you and you need more than basic OCR conversions done on the default settings, then you'll want to rethink this software.)
The range of features this software touts is impressive and I wanted to test as many as I could before writing my review. I started with a PDF document that I originally typed in Microsoft Word. It was a plain document with plain Times New Roman text, no images, or tables--the fanciest it got was a header and a footer. OmniPage 18 converted this document into Word format beautifully, even with the header and footers intact and completely editable. Next was to try out a slightly more complicated PDF document conversion and I have to say, it passed, even where the tables were concerned. The only quibble was with the image positioning. At that point I thought maybe the software would be worth all the headaches to get it up and running. Then I moved on to converting *other* types of documents.
I printed a page on bright white copy paper from my first document and snapped a picture with my iPhone camera. I made sure the area was well-lit and the document was properly positioned in the iPhone screen. (Basically, I made sure I used optimal conditions, which is probably beyond what the average user might do, so bear that in mind.) The resultant document was vastly different from my first experience. About 30% of the converted text had errors and the corrections offered seemed completely random.
Next I worked on converting images I scanned directly from some books. OmniPage had a nice feature which allowed the automatic detection of the divider between two pages and that worked fairly well (that is, of course, if you can find it to use it). However, the book I scanned had slightly discolored pages and the margin of error for OmniPage went up considerably.
With the increased number of errors, the more interaction with the proofreading editor I had. That proofreading editor is not user-friendly or intuitive--at least not beyond the basic corrections. And finding a productive workflow is nearly impossible because many of the features that you'll need require multiple mouse clicks to access and then process. And Heaven forbid you actually make a mistake while doing the proofreading and need to go back because that will open up a whole new can of worms.
Even the files into which you can save your documents are unintuitive, because each one (even the same formats) vary slightly from one another, and there isn't any proper documentation as to the differences in each.
(By the way, the ebook format into which this program exports is completely horrid. Tip: export into HTML, clean it up in a different program, and then convert it using Calibre.)
However, the program does have a few redeeming qualities (hence the 2.5 stars instead of 1). It's clunky, sometimes unintuitive, borderline backwards, but once you get beyond this and find your groove, it has a few nifty features--the key is finding them.
So, to close...
For whom is this software? People who only need to do simple OCR conversions, or people who don't mind getting their hands messy when it comes to technical troubleshooting, people who have the patience of saints, and those who don't mind compiling their own documentation as they go along. Everyone else should probably look for something else.
I hope you found this review helpful and if you have any questions about the software or my experience with it, leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer.
ADDENDUM: When this review was written, the price of this software was significantly higher; while that didn't factor into my star rating, it was a poor cost for value. That said, if you can find this for under fifty, the cost for value greatly improves. (My original review still stands.)
on April 27, 2012
Just a warning for system builders or anyone who changes any hardware on their computers. Nuance has THE WORST software protection system in the world. The EULA stipulates that you can only install it 3 times, which means anytime you change hardware or windows versions you will be using one of those precious allowable installations. In practice, I resent Nuance for using this method of intellectual property protections. Kind of like getting slapped in the face for using their product. Try Abbys software for a more sane licensing agreement if you're prone to 'meddling' with your computer. Just FYI.
on October 1, 2012
I have been using omnipage for many years, initially the company was called Caldera, than it was bought by ScanSoft, now Nuance. I used other OCR engines in all these years also. I am a heavy application user, especially office-type. So I am familiar with both installation issues and I know what to expect of an OCR engine.
On my last PC with Win7 64bit i had, at some point, a 4SE version that came with a Canon multifunction. I have Paperport 14 installed. I just bought last week the basic Omnipage 18. For 4 days I am trying to install it.
I got the following message, in Pseudo-English [very strange due to the fact that we are talking about a language tool]: Another version of product is already installed. Installation of this version cannot continue [...]"
this is, in my almost 30 years of experience with PCs (remember the XT-8088?) the first time an installation aborts because of an older program, instead of asking for an upgrade.
On Friday i started to clean up my registry of instances of omnipage 4se (deleted about 15 of them) - by the way, the 4SE does not live in my pc for many months now, as it was uninstalled the usual way. Than on Saturday i used several omnipage removers to try to do more cleaning, with the same result. Installation aborted.
Sunday I uninstalled Paperport, tried more removers, than went back in Regedit and cleaned it of all the entries left by 4SE - I found 85 (yes, EIGHTY_FIVE) more entries for a program uninstalled and "successfully removed" with their dedicated tool.
Ah, on Friday I also started a chat with their support (being already aware that throughout the web the general opinion is that they are useless) - I am pasting the conversation for your reading pleasure:
i will paste the text of my initial question for you:
"Cannot install Omnipage 18...
ME-it tells me that a version of omnipage is already installed. on the other hand, i found the paperport OCR engine pretty much useless, so i need the omnipage. please help
>>based from your records, there is no OmniPage software registered under your account.
In order for you to have a OmniPage OCR capabilities, you need to install the software.
If you already have the OmniPage software, please provide us the serial number so that we can register it.
ME-Thank you for your promptness, Dennis
this is the SN for omnipage 18: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
how could i do the installation?
>>Thank you for your reply.
we already registered your OmniPage software.
For you to be able to use the OCR feature of the OmniPage software, you need to install it first. [REALLY, SHERLOCK?!]
To install the software, you may insert the disc to your computer and follow the prompts to finish the installation.
ME [obviously irritated by the above answer]: i will paste the text of my initial question for you:
When i put the disk in to install omnipage "it tells me that a version of omnipage is already installed."
please don't waste my time, nuance cust svc is well knows for their uselessness.
In conclusion, if i would not have bought this, there is no way I would pursue this. It seems that all the versions are buggy, they leave trash behind (more than usual ;-() - issue silently admitted by Nuance, as they have "removers" on their discs, and, now, I am facing an install error that should probably be on the Jay Leno Show for its idiocy. I recommend, like other reviewers, ABBYY, a much better software. I will post a snapshot of my desktop here, too.
sorry for the lengthy review - I feel a little better now...
on July 22, 2011
I purchased the PRO version of this product (not this version, though it appears that the same scanner setup wizard is also in this version of the product) and installed it on my PC. It continually sent me through the scanner setup wizard and supposedly let me save the scanner setup after testing it successfully, then when I went to scan something, it didn't recognize the scanner it said worked fine and saved.
Tech support responded after a day or two then, after spending a fair amount of time editing an ini file somewhere so that I could enable error logging, followed by sending the requested files in, hey never responded back. after a little over a week later I got my refund for the software and gave up on it.
Omnipage also trashed my Paperport 12.1 installation and I had to go back and reinstall that also. Now, when I start Paperport sometimes, it wants me to activate it again. I try the automatic activation and that doesn't work. Once the manual reactivation worked but now it doesn't.
I have Omnipage 15 standard and it works well for me, so that's what I'll continue using. Apparently, Omnipage 18 still has some serious bugs to work out in the scanner setup portion of their product.
Before getting Omnipage 18, I read reviews of previous versions of the software. Reviewers were very critical of the difficulties in getting started with older versions (17 and earlier). So, I was nervous that the new version would be just as difficult.
I am happy to report that I found Omnipage 18's automated "Workflow" options to be extremely easy to use, and I've now used it to take care of a task that I've been dreading for months: Processing tables of data that I have on printed pages...
I have ten years worth of paper documents that contain a combination of text and numeric data (mostly the latter) stored in tables. I need to do some statistical computations on this data, but I don't have access to the original files. I was beginning to think that my only solution was to manually enter the data into Excel. Well, it turns out that Omnipage 18 has a mode that will automatically import scanned data into an Excel document, putting each scanned page into a separate "sheet" in the document. This is exactly what I needed. So, I used my scanner at work to quickly scan in 30 pages as a pdf, and then opened the document with Omnipage. Conversion was almost instantaneous, and the numeric data itself seems to have been recognized flawlessly! When I began skimming through the data for the first couple imported pages, I was just so relieved to see how perfectly this was imported. Now, I can use Excel to perform the calculations I need. Omnipage 18 has saved me hours of work on this task. I've never used those older versions of Omnipage, but this one has been extremely easy to use. (And, for those concerned, I went with pdf format just because that was easy for me with my work scanner. Omnipage can take data from many other sources, including scanners, cameras, and more.)
One other scenario where Omnipage has proven its value: My wife had several pages of family reunion address data on paper, again stored in tables. I scanned it in and tried to use Google Doc's automatic OCR features by uploading the document online. It did a lousy job, and so the scanned image sat on my computer untouched for a month. Finally, I opened the same document in Omnipage 18, and imported it as a tabular Word document. I was done after just a couple minutes of checking over the few spots where Omnipage had trouble with the recognition.
So, why four stars instead of five? Two reasons:
1) Sparse documentation. The box contained nothing but the disc. The help menu is not very well organized, at least for my needs. In the two examples above, I didn't need the documentation because everything worked so smoothly. But when I tried working with a not-so-easy document (a webcam photo of a recipe from a cookbook), I really needed to read the documentation to figure out how to deal with some of the trickier parts of the scan (tricky because the photo I took was sloppy). I fumbled around for quite a bit before I found what I needed. Within the Help menu, I found "The Text Editor" and "Customizing Zones" sections to be particularly helpful in learning how Omnipage handles converting images to text. I just wish that the information were easier to find.
2) The unnecessary "Nuance Cloud Connector". I guess, in an effort to show that the company is on the "cutting edge" of technology, they have provided an additional piece of software for staying connected to various "clouds" such as Google Storage, Amazon S3, WebDAV, and more. I am already as cloud-connected as I want to be (Dropbox is already meeting my needs), so I didn't appreciate Nuance kind of coercing me into installing this add-on feature that runs every time my computer starts up. It wasn't obvious to me whether I could skip the installation of the Cloud Connector software. So I installed it, confirmed that it was not going to help me in my day-to-day workflow, and then used Windows Control Panel to uninstall it. I'm glad to find that Omnipage 18 seems to run just fine without the Cloud Connector.
All in all, I'm very happy so far with what Omnipage 18 has done for me, and expect it will continue to come in handy!
on October 5, 2012
I have several versions of several of Nuance's products. They cannot be used because of the draconian activation system. Nuance will tell you that you can "deactivate" or uninstall the programs to re-install it on another computer. This is not the case. Their "activation" server seems to work flawlessly, but their "deactivation" server not at all. They do not care about repeat business and their customer service is non-existent, unless it is to sell you the newest version. I have recently purchased Omnipage 18 and it is now useless because I had to install a new hard drive on my computer. When it was working it was a resource hog and difficult to work with. I will never buy another Nuance product again. I also have the same activation problem with Paperport and PDF Converter (which I have never found any version to work very well). They do this on purpose, as it would be easy to provide an alternative system that did not rip their customers off. MS Windows, for instance has a telephone activation system for reinstalling the operating systems on a new hard drive when you have already activated it.
on July 10, 2011
I purchased this software to save time and work based on the claims that it can turn images of written text into editable documents.
Instead of saving time, I wasted hours installing it and trying to get it to work, with terrible results. After loading very clear screen shots of text into it, it still could not recognize so much of the document, and suggested characters that did not even make sense (did not even make a real word), the document could have been typed out at 40wpm by hand with quicker results. I strongly discourage it's purchase and feel the outright lies told by it's marketers are criminal. Don't buy this software, in fact I think I will not buy anything from Nuance ever until they show much improvement. Check out this consumer affairs site for other significant complaints regarding this company and this software: [...]
on August 2, 2012
The product was never able to create searchable documents. After installing, a stupid, annoying Software Manager dialogue box pops up every other day trying to get me to buy more Nuance products. I have tried to disable this message, but there is no option to turn it off, and even uninstalling portions of the software does not keep the message dialogue box continuing to pop up. I have never bought a product in my life like this!
So if you want to be accosted by Nuance advertizements, if you want to buy a software product that does not create searchable PDFs, then go ahead and buy Nuance. I scanned printed documents, and their program could not turn clearly printed documents into searchable text.
After 20 minutes on technical support, I was put on hold for ten minutes, and then was disconnected.
The product does not work and creates obnoxious ads, plus the tech support is nonexistent.
on September 29, 2011
Do yourself a favor. Avoid this product. I spent $ 112.00 on this junk with a view to finding a product that would improve on Paperport and allow a more comprehensive handling of large .pdf documents, particularly searching the .pdf document for terms. I will never know if Omni 18 can do any of this, because after wasting inordinate time trying to use it, I deleted the program. (To get my scanner back online, I re-installed an old Visioneer Paperport 10 program.)
This Omni 18 garbage deleted my Paperport program on installation. Then it wouldn't scan, taking inordinate time to perform the simplest tasks. The program absorbed huge amounts of computer space (1,041 MB!) and and was not intuitive. I then called Nuance and after 10-15 voice mail swithes was advised that I was expected to pay a fee (presumably per minute) for assistance in making their product work.
I am a professional (but not an IT professional). For me, time is money. It is easier and cheaper to complain about the scammers at Nuance than to waste more time and effort (which in my case is lost revenue) in trying to get this crap to perform as Nuance advertised it would. Nuance is now on my Spam-block list. There are better programs out there, and I urge you to spend a few minutes searching for them.
Plymouth Meeting PA 19462
on February 25, 2012
Original review (later amended, see below):
Recently, I decided to upgrade to Omnipage 18 because I was pleased with Omnipage 15 and thought that version 18 should be an improvement. Bad idea.
As a lawyer, I often use OCR on scans of documents received from opposing counsel and third parties. Then I can run quick text searches to find something that I recall seeing earlier, or I can simply locate every instance where a certain keyword was used.
The good news is that Omnipage 18, like prior versions, can handle properly formatted court documents just fine. By that, I mean documents with text formatted in Times New Roman, 12 point, double-spaced, 28 lines per page, with standard margins and line numbering along the left margin, scanned in as a PDF at 300 dpi with skew at less than 2% from a first-generation copy.
The bad news is that for anything other than what I just mentioned above, Omnipage 18 will not only fail to recognize it, it will crash completely (without any chance at recovery of the pages already recognized) and will never finish the task. The size of the file doesn't matter; it can crash on a single page.
Through a little trial and error, I discovered there are certain types of pages for which Omnipage 18 will simply crash and never finish. It seems to crash most often when recognizing pages with handwriting, or with text in small fonts (i.e., the notorious "fine print" of certain contracts), or that are fourth or fifth generation copies that clearly went through a 150-dpi fax machine at one point.
This is a problem, because if you're using OCR, it's because you have a workflow involving large amounts of inbound documents from external sources which you have no control over and which can come in at all levels of quality. If your workflow involves only emails or other things that are purely digital from end to end, you don't need OCR. The entire point is that OCR software needs to be resilient enough to deal with anything that's thrown at it. (Why Omnipage 15 was able to handle such things without crashing and Omnipage 18 can't is beyond me.) I don't mind when I open a Word file generated by Omnipage from a 200 page PDF and there's nothing but total gibberish on a few pages because some pages of the original PDF were a low-res, tilted grainy mess that even a human could barely read. I do mind when that Word file is never generated at all because Omnipage crashed.
I was even more irate when I realized that Amazon's return policy for software requires that it must be unopened. So I bought ABBYY FineReader at Fry's Electronics. ABBYY's current version is just slightly better than Nuance's aging Omnipage 15 in terms of accuracy (in some respects, it's less accurate at capturing the original document's formatting) and its interface is even more annoying than Omnipage's, but at least it doesn't crash. Even worse, Nuance has failed to address version 18's issues by way of posting customer support bulletins or support patches. I will never waste my money on Nuance products again.
New review as of May 1, 2012:
In April 2012, my 18-month-old HP Pavilion dv7 laptop went to computer heaven thanks to the AC power adapter plug defect for which HP has been hit with several class actions. After extracting the hard drives and transferring all my documents (with the help of a Sabrent USB-SATA adapter) to a new Lenovo IdeaPad U300s ultrabook, I tried installing OmniPage 18 to see if perhaps the problem was with HP rather than with OmniPage. Sure enough, OmniPage is working fine on the Lenovo, even with large files. So for now, I forgive Nuance, and I'm raising my review from one star to three, but Nuance really, really should be warning potential customers that they should NOT be installing OmniPage 18 on HP Pavilions.