digitzing hand-written notes

I've got some hand-written notes I've taken at that I'd like to get into a digital form & make them searchable. Anyone have any recommendations/ways they do it?

Here's what I'm working with: I'm on a Mac and have an HP all-in-one printer/scanner/copier. It does come with some OCR software but it seems very much geared toward printed documents and doesn't handle handwriting well at all.

As for software I currently have Journler, Circus Ponies Notebook, and DevonThink Personal. I checked out EverNote but I want something that I can use to keep everything locally without having to send it off to "the cloud" - servers on the internet. I'm fine with software that has the option to backup to some website, but I want it to be just that - an option and not how the program normally works (as is the case with EverNote).

I definitely would prefer Mac software but I'd also be willing to put up with Windows software if it works in CrossOver Office. I have thought about upgrading to DevonThink Pro but it doesn't seem to support my scanner, or at least I couldn't get that feature working when I downloaded the demo.

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That's a tough question

Would you scream much if I suggested you simply transcribe it ?

I recall my experience with Apple Newtons and Palm Pilots. It was easier to adjust my handwriting to something the hardware could recognize than to get the hardware to recognize my handwriting.

What you ask is probably possible, but not with inexpensive software. I digitized documents for my homeowner's association to web-ify them. It was n-th generation copy in a typeface like the font American Typewriter. I ended up having to proof-read and retype huge portions.

This is my response, based on my personal experience.

If someone else has better info, great. I wish you the best of luck on it, but it might just be easiest to type it.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

smartpen might help for future

Hi there -
I have been using a Livescribe smart pen for a few weeks now. An application that they have promised soon is to convert handwriting to typed text.
this might be worth looking into for the future.

Keywords might be the way to go

If you don't want to transcribe the notes, I suggest scanning them as a collection of images and pasting the images into a document (word etc). Then enter keywords relating to the text above each image.

Then the keywords give you a searchable index

Evernote might be your answer

The software Evernote will do character recognition on scanned images. It won't convert the images to text, but you can do a search and it will search images for matching text. It's pretty impressive.

Google "Evernote". There is a free version I believe, but I liked it well enough to buy the whole package.

agreed, scan images

agreed, scan your handwitten notes as images

if you havent yet, take a look at Notebook for Mac by Circus Ponies as one way of keeping a search function through keywords as previous commenter suggested.

I have a similar challenge, that is moving piles of info from old rolodexes into NowContact, also on macs. THis is the closest I came, was to scan the images, but frankkly, need a transcriptionist, like ygor suggested, cause NOWContact cant search images for keywords and it would take another lifetime to keyword every inported name, addy, contact, etc.

If one could just find an ocr that could read handwriting and translate it into searchable, editable type. Now there would be the ticket.

If only voice-transcription software was really really accuate... I think, for me at least, it'd be far easier to speak all those rolodex cards than to type them.

hang in there, I know you'll find something good


voice transcription


I tried out one of the voice transcription softwares a few years back and I was surprised at how well it did names. I was transcribing a bunch of names into a spreadsheet, and it was amazing--it did names correctly that blew my mind.

Since then, I'm sure it's even better. You do have to spend some time 'training' the software by reading stuff aloud that IT wants you to read.

It might be worth it to me to go back and try the stuff again, but I share an office and I'd drive my husband crazy dictating all the stuff I have to write.


You could...

dictate to tape out of Hubby's earshot and then feed the tape into the computer. I have seen these systems with features like that.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Not worth it.

Hi ygor.

I'd be dictating all day every day, I write constantly. Not worth it to 'go away and talk' then come back and process. Nope. :)


How about...

MP3 player with headphones for Hubby ?

"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)


Hi ygor.

That works 'til he has to be on the phone too. :/

I have a slight advantage, being the breadwinner, but the gap is narrowing. :)


Gotcha gotcha gotcha

The answer to the situation is The SkullCandy Jacked Link

Jacked Link connects your mobile phone with any music player, using any pair of stereo headphones you already own. Turn your headphones into a mobile phone handsfree device, while continuing to listen

I have one and any phone with a 2.5mm jack works. I have a wireless phone at home with such a jack and it works great.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Yes but..


That doesn't really address the fact that the calls are not just voice--they also carry a 'shared desktop' component--and I do mean desktop, not laptop. He already roams whenever his calls are voice only. My calls are usually VOIP as well as web-enabled, so I'm planted whether I want to be or not.

The true solution is two separate offices, but we're not set up for that at the moment and I really don't want my office in my bedroom--or his office either, for that matter. The room we have set up is big enough for both of us plus all the machinery--but we're essentially back-to-back in the room.

I should probably get some acoustic tiles to put up, this room is very live. Tile floor, french doors, hardscape everywhere..