Scanning Documents, Then Editing Them
Q. Can a regular photo scanner also scan documents and turn them into text I can edit in Microsoft Word?
A. With the right software, most modern photo scanners and multifunction printers can scan documents into digital files, much as you can scan a printed picture into a digital photograph. Once the scanner captures an image or PDF file of the document and saves the file on your computer, you can use an optical character recognition (O.C.R.) program to analyze the scanned document and convert it to text that can be edited in Microsoft Word or another word-processing application.
Some manufacturers include a basic O.C.R. program along with drivers and other utility software when you buy the scanner hardware. If your model did not include O.C.R. software, you can buy it separately. ABBYY FineReader, OmniPage and Readiris are among the commercial O.C.R. programs out there, and some have free versions to try before you buy. FreeOCR is another program that lives up to its name and can be found in online shareware archives.
If your scanner did not come with O.C.R. software, you may have some on your computer anyway. The 2003 and 2007 editions of Microsoft Word include Microsoft Office Document Imaging tools for optical character recognition, for example, and the company has instructions for installing the software for use with Word 2010 at support.microsoft.com/kb/982760. The OneNote program, included with some versions of Microsoft Office and also available separately, has O.C.R. functions as well. Recent versions of Adobe Acrobat have O.C.R. built in, as does the popular Evernote program.
Opening the Mac's Downloads Folder
Q. When I click on the Downloads folder in the Mac's Dock, it pops up as a vertical stack of a few icons and I always have to click the "More in Finder" arrow to see all the files in a window. Is there a way to just open the files in a window in the first place?
A. To cut to the chase and open the Downloads folder in a new window, right-click on the Downloads folder icon in the Dock and choose the Open "Downloads" option from the menu. (If your mouse lacks a secondary button, hold down the Control key while clicking the Downloads folder icon.)
In addition to the Open "Downloads" command, the contextual menu has other options for customizing the look of the Downloads folder when you click on it normally. You can switch from the vertical "fan" arrangement to a list or grid of icons, and also change the way the files are sorted when displayed.
TIP OF THE WEEK Want to check mail from two different Gmail accounts in one Web browser? You do not have to sign out of one to sign into the other -- just sign into one account first and click your e-mail address or name at the top of the page. On the drop-down menu, click the Add Account button and sign in with the user name and password for the second Gmail account.
To switch between accounts, click the address at the top of the page to return to the drop-down menu and select the other mail account from the list -- or leave them both open in separate browser tabs. You can add more than two Gmail accounts this way, and using multiple accounts does not merge the mailboxes or share information.
As an alternative to adding multiple accounts in Google's Chrome browser, you can click on the Chrome menu icon on the right side of the toolbar and open a new Incognito window for private browsing. From there, you can log into another Gmail account while keeping the first one open in the other window.
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This article originally appeared in The New York Times.