Google recently added Optical Character Recognition (OCR) in multiple languages to Google Docs. So you now can use Google Docs to convert PDF files to text and translate them. Does it work well? Check it out yourself as follows:
1. Go to Google Docs and click the Upload button.
2. Check the Convert text from PDF or image files to Google Docs document box. Then select the language in which the PDF is written from the pulldown field. Very important: Since Google Docs uses OCR to convert the PDF to text, it is very important to select the correct language so that Google can recognize the word and character structures.
3. Click the Start Upload button.
4. When the upload has completed, open the file in Google Docs. From the main menu, select Tools-Translate Document.
5. Enter the file name which you wish to assign to the translated file and click OK. The translation is displayed in Google Docs.
I tested this new feature on a few good quality PDFs. While the OCR seems to work fairly well, the combined functions of OCR and translation did not return good results and the translations came out poorly. But who can complain? Google Docs is free and now has a new feature which will be very useful to many people.
See also: last year I wrote a blog post on how to use Google Translate for translating a PDF file.
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