Handwriting Recognition

What Is It?

Handwriting recognition is the ability of the Mac note taking app to convert your handwritten notes to computer text. The idea is for you to take notes as you would with pen and paper, substituting a computer tablet and stylus. As you write, the note taking app converts your writing to text. This can be a more natural way of taking notes with a computer, and can be a faster way to take notes if you’re not a fast typist. Handwriting recognition systems don’t typically understand cursive script, however, so you must print your letters which may slow you down.

Mac Notes Apps with This Feature

What Else Should I Know?

How does it work? The one app reviewed here that supports handwriting recognition, Circus Ponies NoteBook, relies on the “InkWell” technology that’s part of OS X. InkWell is a system available to all Mac applications that tracks a user’s writing from a tablet stylus and converts that handwriting to text. InkWell isn’t bad, but it’s not perfect. Writing with a stylus on a tablet may require a little practice, and the handwriting recognition is not as accurate as it will no doubt be in the future, but this is still a great feature if you prefer to write by hand The handwriting recognition technology built into Windows is far faster and much more accurate, but the downside is you have to become a Windows user(!).

Handwriting recognition should not be confused with optical character recognition (OCR). With OCR the application takes an existing piece of written or printed material, scans it, and generates the text equivalent. With handwriting recognition, the application performs the conversion in real time, as you write.