Image: Jack Wallen

When you need text from a document, a receipt, or an image, and you don’t have time to type it out, what do you do? You turn to your Android device, it’s camera, and an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) app named Text Fairy.

What’s special about Text Fairy?

There are plenty of OCR apps available, including Office Lens app (which integrates into OneNote and One Drive). Text Fairy rises above all of the other OCR apps in just about every category. With this handy app, you can:

  • Convert an image to text
  • Correct the viewpoint of an image
  • Edit extracted text
  • Copy text to clipboard
  • Use text in other apps
  • Convert the scanned page to PDF
  • Recognize print from over 50 languages
  • Have Android speak the text

This app can scan text from images on your device (previously taken by your camera or from Google Drive) or scan text from photos taken immediately by the camera. The best part is the OCR of Text Fairy is really, really accurate. Top that off with the fact that Text Fairy is free (of price and ads) as well as open source ( download the source), and you have the makings for one of the best OCR apps on the Google Play Store.

Installing Text Fairy

Text Fairy requires Android 3.0 and up. The installation is as easy as installing any other app.

  1. Open the Google Play Store on your Android device.
  2. Search for text fairy.
  3. Locate and tap the entry by Renard Wellnitz.
  4. Tap Install.
  5. Read the permissions listing.
  6. If the permissions listing is acceptable, tap Accept.
  7. Allow the installation to complete.

You should see a launcher for Text Fairy on your home screen or your App Drawer or in both places. Tap it to launch the app.

Using Text Fairy

Before you start using Text Fairy, keep these points in mind.

  • Images must be sharp with good lighting.
  • The app cannot read handwriting.
  • Text must be black on a white background.

When you first launch Text Fairy, you’ll be instructed on how to use it. It’s quite simple: There are two buttons on the main window ( Figure A): one for the camera and one to open recent images.

Figure A

The Text Fairy main window on a Verizon-branded Droid Turbo.

Say you need to extract text from a receipt you have on hand. Here’s how.

  1. Open Text Fairy.
  2. Tap the camera button on the main window.
  3. When the camera opens, frame the image on the screen.
  4. Once you have the image where you want it, tap the screen.
  5. When the image appears, if it’s acceptable, tap the check button.
  6. Position the frame around the text you want extracted — this is where you can correct the viewpoint of the image (Figure B).
  7. Figure B

    Arranging the frame to get only the text you want.
  8. Tap the right-pointing arrow.
  9. Tap to select how many columns were contained within the original text.
  10. Select the language.
  11. Tap Start.
  12. Once the OCR finishes, tap to select what you want to do with the text (Figure C).
  13. Tap OK.

Figure C

Selecting what to do with the text.

You can always go back to a scanned image to work with the text again. From the main window, tap the scanned image you want to use and then tap the menu button (three vertical dots in the upper left corner) and select what you want to do with the text.


By default, only two languages are included: English and German. If you have a need for another language, tap the overflow menu (three vertical lines in the upper left corner) and tap Add Language. From the list of languages, tap the download button associated with the language or languages you want to add (Figure D).

Figure D

Adding a language to Text Fairy.

Save time with Text Fairy

There’s no reason you should have to spend time typing in text from a source when you can simply use Text Fairy to scan it and extract the necessary information. Give this very accurate OCR app a try, and see if it doesn’t make your mobile life significantly easier.