How to OCR Documents for Free in Google Drive

Google Drive makes it painless to go paperless. Its collaborative documents, spreadsheets, and presentations already help curtail paper usage, but its OCR feature helps curb the paper mess even more.

OCR, or Optical Character Recognition, is the most important tech to help you go paperless. Scanned documents on their own are only glorified pictures of your documents, but let your computer recognize the text and they instantly become a ton more useful. We’ve already looked at how to OCR documents in Adobe Acrobat:

We’ve looked at turning PDF files into documents you can edit in Word as well:

Now if you don’t have a copy of Acrobat or Word, there’s an even better option: Google Drive. It includes a little-known free OCR tool that is a powerful, easy to use image to text converter.

In this tutorial, we’ll look at what is Google Drive’s OCR process and simple steps to begin working with it. I’ll show you how to use Google Drive to quickly convert your scanned images and PDF documents into editable text files online.

Google Cloud: Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Tutorial

Learn how to perform optical character recognition (OCR) on Google Cloud Platform. This tutorial demonstrates how to upload image files to Google Cloud Storage, extract text from the images using the Google Cloud Vision API, translate the text using the Google Cloud Translation API, and save your translations back to Cloud Storage. Google Cloud Pub/Sub is used to queue various tasks and trigger the right Cloud Functions to carry them out.


  • Write and deploy several Background Cloud Functions.
  • Upload images to Cloud Storage.
  • Extract, translate and save text contained in uploaded images.

Visualizing the flow of data

The flow of data in the OCR tutorial application involves several steps:

  1. An image that contains text in any language is uploaded to Cloud Storage.
  2. A Cloud Function is triggered, which uses the Vision API to extract the text and detect the source language.
  3. The text is queued for translation by publishing a message to a Pub/Sub topic. A translation is queued for each target language different from the source language.
  4. If a target language matches the source language, the translation queue is skipped, and text is sent to the result queue, another Pub/Sub topic.
  5. A Cloud Function uses the Translation API to translate the text in the translation queue. The translated result is sent to the result queue.
  6. Another Cloud Function saves the translated text from the result queue to Cloud Storage.
  7. The results are found in Cloud Storage as txt files for each translation.

It may help to visualize the steps:

Implications of Climate Change for the US Army

United States Army War College Report:

Initial findings of the study focus on changes to the physical environment and the human response to those changes. Sea level rise, changes in water and food security, and more frequent extreme weather events are likely to re-sult in the migration of large segments of the population. Rising seas will displace tens (if not hundreds) of millions of people, creating massive, enduring instability. This migration will be most pronounced in those regions where climate vulnerability is exacerbated by weak institutions and governance and underdeveloped civil society. Recent history has shown that mass human migrations can result in increased propensity for conflict and turmoil as new populations intermingle with and compete against established populations. More frequent extreme weather events will also increase demand for military humanitarian assistance

Salt water intrusion into coastal areas and changing weather patterns will also compromise or eliminate fresh water supplies in many parts of the world. Additionally, warmer weather increases hydration requirements. This means that in expeditionary warfare, the Army will need to supply itself with more water. This significant logistical burden will be exacerbated on a future battlefield that requires constant movement due to the ubiquity of adversarial sensors and their deep strike capabilities.

A warming trend will also increase the range of insects that are vectors of infectious tropical diseases. This, coupled with large scale human migration from tropical nations, will increase the spread of infectious disease. The Army has tremendous logistical capabilities, unique in the world, in working in austere or unsafe environments. In the event of a significant infectious disease outbreak (domestic or international), the Army is likely to be called upon to assist in the response and containment.

Arctic ice will continue to melt in a warming climate. These Arctic changes present both challenges and opportunities. The decrease in Arctic sea ice and associated sea level rise will bring conflicting claims to newly-accessible natural resources. It will also introduce a new theater of direct military contact between an increasingly belligerent Russia and other Arctic nations, including the U.S. Yet the opening of the Arctic will also increase commercial opportunities. Whether due to increased commercial shipping traffic or expanded opportunities for hydrocarbon extraction, increased economic activity will drive a requirement for increased military expenditures specific to that region. In short, competition will increase. The increased likelihood of more intense and longer duration drought in some areas, accompanied by greater atmospheric heating, will put an increased strain on the aging U.S. power grid and further spur large scale human migration elsewhere. Power generation in U.S. hydroelectric and nuclear facilities will be affected. This dual attack on both supply and demand could create more frequent, widespread and enduring power grid failures, handicapping the U.S. economy.

In addition to the changing environmental conditions that will contribute to a changing security environment, climate change will likely also result in social, political, and market pressures that may profoundly affect the Army’s (and DoD’s) activities. Studies indicate that global society, including in the U.S., increasingly views climate change as a grave threat to security. As the electorate becomes more concerned about climate change, it follows that elected officials will, as well. This may result in significant restrictions on military activities (in peacetime) that produce carbon emissions. In concert with these changes, consumer demands will drive market adaptation. Businesses will focus on more environmentally sound products and practices to meet demand. The DoD does not currently possess an environmentally conscious mindset. Political and social pressure will eventually force the military to mitigate its environmental impact in both training and wartime. Implementation of these changes will be costly in effort, time and money. This is likely to occur just as the DoD is adjusting to changes in the security environment previously highlighted.

In light of these findings, the military must consider changes in doctrine, organization, equipping, and training to anticipate changing environmental requirements. Greater inter-governmental and inter-organizational cooperation, mandated through formal framework agreements, will allow the DoD to anticipate those areas where future conflict is more likely to occur and to implement a campaign-plan-like approach to proactively prepare for likely conflict and mitigate the impacts of mass migration. Focused research and early funding of anticipated future equipment and requirements will spread the cost of adaptation across multiple budget cycles, diminish the “sticker shock” and impacts to overall spending. Finally, the DoD must begin now to promulgate a culture of environmental stewardship across the force. Lagging behind public and political demands for energy efficiency and minimal environmental footprint will significantly hamstring the Department’s efforts to face national security challenges. The Department will struggle to maintain its positive public image and that will impact the military’s ability to receive the required funding to face the growing number of security challenges.