Google Drive is a great tool for storing and sharing files. If you’re already using Google Drive, you’ll love the feature we’re covering today. Have you ever had to type out text from a PDF or an image? It’s time-consuming. Many of us have been there and thought: “there must be a better way.” Well, we have good news for you, there is! You can use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) in Google Drive to grab text from an image. Here’s how:

Locate an Image

If you’re going to be using a digital image, this part is pretty straightforward. If you want to extract text from a physical copy, scan the item first.

For the purposes of this tutorial, I’ll be extracting the text from an infographic I found during a Google search.

infographic with text

Check Your Image

According to Google, your file should meet these specifications for best results:


You can use .JPEG, .PNG, .GIF, or PDF files. If your file is another type, you can use a program to convert it to one of these file types. (More on how to do that below).

File size

The file should be 2 MB or less.


Text should be at least 10 pixels high. Large, clear text works best.


Documents must be right-side up. If necessary, rotate your image before uploading it.


Use common fonts. Arial or Times New Roman are ideal. Uncommon fonts may lead to errors.

Image quality

Clear, sharp and even-toned images work best for this process.

Use a program like Photoshop or GIMP to make sure that the file meets as much of the criteria as possible. The image I chose already fits these criteria well, so I’ll be uploading it as is.

  1. Log In to Google Drive

Once you have prepared you file, log into your Google Drive account. Now you can start the process of extracting text.

2. Upload Your File


Upload image to Google Drive

Upload your file by navigating to your desired location. Select “New” then “File Upload”

Google Drive upload file

In this example, I’m uploading my file to a specific folder.

3. Open with Google Docs

Open with Google Docs

Once your file has uploaded, right click on it. Next, scroll down and select “Open with Google Docs” This will open your file in a new window.

4. Check the Text

Image with extracted text

Now you should see the original image you’ve uploaded, followed by the text that’s been extracted. Check the text and make sure that the process worked. If you notice a lot of errors, go back and make sure your image meets all the specifications as closely as possible.

5. Delete Image

Once you’ve confirmed that this process has been successful, go ahead and delete the original image. Now, you’ll be left with the text.

6. Format

Format text

Often times, the formatting on the text might be odd after this process is completed. This can be fixed by using the editing tools in Google Docs to change things like colors and spacing.

7. Download

download file

That’s it! After following the steps above, you’ll have the text extracted from the image that you uploaded. At this point, you’ll be able to download this text in whatever format you’d like. Do this by going to “File” then, “Download as”

Posted by Alyssa Goulet

Alyssa Goulet is a freelance technology and marketing copywriter. Her past clients include Demoflick, Focus@Will, and Chegg. Find out more by visiting her website, or say hi on Twitter: @alyssagwrites.

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