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How to use OCR with Google Docs for Android

The Google Docs Android app includes a cool new feature that allows documents to be converted into editable text. We'll show you how to use it and what camera setting we suggest using for best results.

The Google Docs Android app includes a cool new feature--OCR support. OCR stands for optical character recognition and is a feature that's normally tied to full-sized scanners. You can now take photos of documents with your Android phone and convert them into text than can be searched and edited. Here's how:

Step 1:
Launch the Google Docs app and tap on the "Create new" icon.

Google Docs main screen
Screenshot by Ed Rhee

Step 2:
Select "Document from photo" to start up the OCR camera function.

Google Docs create new
Screenshot by Ed Rhee

Step 3:
Line up the document using the camera on your Android phone and take the photo, then tap "Done." If you don't get the results you want, make sure your phone's camera is set on Auto mode and try forcing the flash.

Google Docs photo done
Screenshot by Ed Rhee

Step 4:
Choose the file name for upload and select the Google account you want to upload the photo to, then click "Done."

Google Docs photo upload
Screenshot by Ed Rhee

During the upload, Google Docs will convert the photo. Once you open the document, you'll see the text it was able to convert.

Google Docs photo imported
Screenshot by Ed Rhee

Remember that the OCR feature works best on unformatted text--no handwriting or designer fonts--and only in English. Google promises that the feature will work better over time, so keep the app updated for improvements!