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Lea Detlevsen

Photos of handwritten docs not searchable

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Hello Evernote users

I hope some of you can help me with this issue.

Is it not correct that when you take a picture of a handwritten page with the document camera in the Evernote mobile app, you should be able to search for keywords in the handwritten text, once the image has become a note?

I've have tried and tried to make this work, but it just doesn't work for me. What am I doing wrong?

It was almost only because of this feature that I chose Evernote, so of course I'm very frustrated when it doesn't work. I hope someone can help me.

I'm an Evernote premium user.

Thanks in advance.

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Hi.  How long did you give your snapshot before trying a search?  It needs to upload to Evernote's servers to get OCR'd,  and the process isn't instant - give it hours to days,  depending on how many other OCR jobs are ahead of yours in the queue...

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Hi Lea,

 

Here's some tried and tested troubleshooting that I have figured out...

 

1. There are a couple of things to cover here. First of all, if you're a premium user, the attachments/ images in your notes get OCRed almost instantly. If you've got a free account, it might take a tad bit longer.

 

2. Here's another thing: Even once your images have elements that are recognized by Evernote's OCR technology, you cannot search within a specific note for keywords. Not on any of the clients. I.e. - you can't hit Ctrl + F on Windows desktop and search for handwritten text within an image in your note as you would text within a note. Neither can you tap on the search icon within a note on mobile devices to do so.

 

What you need to do is search for keywords by using the search bar in any of the clients, not search within a note: Either in "All notes", or a stack, notebook or tag context. That would then include the note under question in the search results. There may be a number of search results... and when you select the note with the image taken with your document camera, more often than not, in any of the clients, you will automatically see the keywords searched for highlighted in yellow.

 

People often confuse searching within a note VS using the search bar.

 

Now - if you wanted to isolate just one note for testing - i.e., you see any word/ phrase in your image that you want to test and see if it gets highlighted in a search - the most ideal way to isolate/ filter just that note is to copy the note title and paste it into the search bar as such: intitle:keyword/ intitle:"Key phrase"

 

What that will do is isolate that specific note. And then after that search operator, you would then include any words you might want to test (still in the search bar).

 

Another way to isolate a specific note is to tag it with a unique tag name. Then when you click on that tag, you should be able to search in the search bar for phrases contained only within that note's OCRed images.

 

3. NOTE: Here's a peculiarity which the desktop clients present (at least the Windows client). If you make any changes whatsoever to a note with OCRed images, they will no longer be searchable. For instance, if you send a note to a different notebook, change the Title, edit the note body, tag the note or annotate an image... absolutely any change within a note will bump it out of its "indexed status". Every time without fail. Guaranteed. The note's attachments/ images will no longer be indexed after sync. This is quite a serious problem on the Windows client. That is to say, if you edit an image that you were previously able to search for OCRed elements, it will no longer be searchable after a sync - even though it shows up on all other clients. You can look under the information icon for that specific note, and you'll see what I'm talking about. Take a look and see if the images are in fact indexed (only on desktop clients). So... if this is your case, and you rely on desktop for performing your searches - be conscious of this dynamic when you make any changes whatsoever.

 

How does one get a previously indexed attachment/ image to be indexed again? On Windows desktop, one needs to click in Ctrl + Help (the Help tab in the uppermost toolbar) - and previously having selected your unindexed note in the note list, click on, "Fix Current Note" from the Help menu. This will immediately cause the note to be reindexed on your local machine - even without a sync - because the problem does not lie with the EN servers in this case.

 

Good luck!

 

BTW, the OCR search is not limited to just the document camera - but practically any image you pop into a note. 

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Thank you so much, Frank, for your detailed explanation. It cleared up a lot of things for me. I am now almost a 100% sure that the problem is the images getting un-indexed, because I am using the Windows client, and I was able to find one note with an image that I had not edited in any way, and I was able to search+find the words in that image.

 

But ... when I selected one of the notes with unindexed images, and clicked on help in the uppermost toolbar, there was no option to "Fix current note"! I have tried updating to the latest version 5.8.1.6061, but it still didn't show up. Any suggestions? I am using the Danish version, should I get the original English/American version?

 

Hi Lea,

 

Here's some tried and tested troubleshooting that I have figured out...

 

1. There are a couple of things to cover here. First of all, if you're a premium user, the attachments/ images in your notes get OCRed almost instantly. If you've got a free account, it might take a tad bit longer.

 

2. Here's another thing: Even once your images have elements that are recognized by Evernote's OCR technology, you cannot search within a specific note for keywords. Not on any of the clients. I.e. - you can't hit Ctrl + F on Windows desktop and search for handwritten text within an image in your note as you would text within a note. Neither can you tap on the search icon within a note on mobile devices to do so.

 

What you need to do is search for keywords by using the search bar in any of the clients, not search within a note: Either in "All notes", or a stack, notebook or tag context. That would then include the note under question in the search results. There may be a number of search results... and when you select the note with the image taken with your document camera, more often than not, in any of the clients, you will automatically see the keywords searched for highlighted in yellow.

 

People often confuse searching within a note VS using the search bar.

 

Now - if you wanted to isolate just one note for testing - i.e., you see any word/ phrase in your image that you want to test and see if it gets highlighted in a search - the most ideal way to isolate/ filter just that note is to copy the note title and paste it into the search bar as such: intitle:keyword/ intitle:"Key phrase"

 

What that will do is isolate that specific note. And then after that search operator, you would then include any words you might want to test (still in the search bar).

 

Another way to isolate a specific note is to tag it with a unique tag name. Then when you click on that tag, you should be able to search in the search bar for phrases contained only within that note's OCRed images.

 

3. NOTE: Here's a peculiarity which the desktop clients present (at least the Windows client). If you make any changes whatsoever to a note with OCRed images, they will no longer be searchable. For instance, if you send a note to a different notebook, change the Title, edit the note body, tag the note or annotate an image... absolutely any change within a note will bump it out of its "indexed status". Every time without fail. Guaranteed. The note's attachments/ images will no longer be indexed after sync. This is quite a serious problem on the Windows client. That is to say, if you edit an image that you were previously able to search for OCRed elements, it will no longer be searchable after a sync - even though it shows up on all other clients. You can look under the information icon for that specific note, and you'll see what I'm talking about. Take a look and see if the images are in fact indexed (only on desktop clients). So... if this is your case, and you rely on desktop for performing your searches - be conscious of this dynamic when you make any changes whatsoever.

 

How does one get a previously indexed attachment/ image to be indexed again? On Windows desktop, one needs to click in Ctrl + Help (the Help tab in the uppermost toolbar) - and previously having selected your unindexed note in the note list, click on, "Fix Current Note" from the Help menu. This will immediately cause the note to be reindexed on your local machine - even without a sync - because the problem does not lie with the EN servers in this case.

 

Good luck!

 

BTW, the OCR search is not limited to just the document camera - but practically any image you pop into a note. 

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Hi Lea, did you use "Ctrl + Help"?... you need to hold down the "Ctrl" key while clicking on the help menu. That will show some hidden options.

 

If all else fails, the best way to have your entire database re-indexed for Windows is to do a fresh install. You need to delete all your data files, etc. Do some research into this first... then, when you sync from the Evernote servers again, everything should be indexed.

 

Also, be real careful and DO NOT select "Optimize Database" or "Fix All Notes" from the Ctrl + Help menu. This is very unpredictable and may cause bigger problems than it is worth, particularly with large databases. Just try out "Fix Current Note" if you can access that. That's the only option for fixing any note that I can vouch for.

 

If you do go ahead and do a fresh install... that still leaves you (us) with the predicament that any time we edit or reshuffle a note in any way, the attachments in any note are consequently shown to not be indexed. 

 

BTW, take a look at this YouTube video I created which should illustrate how to re-index individual notes on Windows desktop:

 

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Hi Frank

 

You, sir, are a genius! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

 

I was not pressing the Ctrl-key ... Of course that made all the difference - what a handy little trick!

 

I do hope EN will find a better solution for this issue, though. But thank you for your help, and the video was great too!

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I learned of the hidden help menu from @JMichael. He's the genius here  ;)

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