Let’s say you’re doing research on the web and you stumble upon a beautiful infographic with a limpid explanation of an abstruse idea that you’ve never understood.
The pictures make the authors point as clear as crystal and the text accentuates the main idea. Everything makes sense and you want to copy some of the text from the graphic.
What do you do?
If there’s a lot of text and you’re like me, then you you’re probably loath to manually transcribe everything into a word document. It’s easier to simply grab the image as a unit than it is to extract the text trapped in the image.
This problem isn’t as marginal as it sounds because it isn’t confined to just infographics but applies to all images with text.
Captioned instagram photos, scanned documents, graphs, charts, screenshots and comics all present a similar dilemma to everyone who cares about extracting text from images: how do you liberate the text?
Allow me to anthropomorphize Chrome for a second…
When Chrome wakes in the morning, do you know what’s the first thing on his mind?
No, it’s not that Internet Explorer sucks or that Firefox is an antiquated piece of junk. No no no, Chrome is always thinking about how to serve up web applications with less latency. He’s thinking about delivering a more dynamic user experience and sprinkling cheer on your melancholy mornings by making the web more beautiful.
Yep, Chrome usually does a pretty good job serving you but some things he can’t do by himself that’s why he enlists the help of extensions.
The Naptha extension is a great addition to your collection because it makes you more productive.
Copying text from images into Microsoft Word, Google Docs or some other editing application is an exacting process. It requires a meticulous hand and eons of patience but with Naptha it’s as easy as selecting the text and pressing Ctrl + c
Slap open Google Chrome then click over to the Chrome Web Store and install the free Project Naptha extension.
It installs in seconds, doesn’t require a browser restart and is immediately available.
Before you get super happy I’ve got to tell you a few things:
In my exuberance I starting Googling every infographic I could find. Then I single-clicked on some text, dragged my mouse across the selection and and pressed Control + c. However, when I pasted the test the results were pretty disappointing:
What the hell is this? Klingon?
Now, I get it – maybe I should modulate my disparaging comments because after all there’s no way in ten centuries I could ever create a plugin like this.
In addition, I know the extension took a long time to develop and uses sophisticated text detection algorithms to work but that’s the problem… it didn’t work.
But alas, it did work perfectly for shorter phrases such as “Chinese Beard” on this famous infographic.
Copying text this way is great but not very useful. It’s just as easy for me to manually type short phrases than it is to copy using Naptha.
Despite this liability the extension really shows promise with a neat text translation feature.
Currently there’s limited language support so don’t try translating obscure languages such as Guarani.
But it’s an interesting idea so I surfed Google for Chinese Magazines and French novels but the translation function invariably failed for me. Conversely, the translation feature always works on the Russian brochure mid-way down the Project Naptha homepage.
If you right-click image text you’ll see language support for:
- Chinese (Simplified)
- Chinese (Traditional)
But I’m taking umbrage with this list since Korean didn’t make the cut. My wife is Korean; therefore, it’s imperative that I learn how to impress her with my command of her language.
C’mon Naptha, work with me here!
The Bottom Line
In my two hour test drive of the plugin I thought it did a equitable job copying text phrases from images. If that’s all you want then this plugin is good; however, if you’re hoping to translate text from German magazine covers, Chinese travel brochures and French coupons then it might work for you.
I made an abortive effort getting the translation stuff to work; however, what fails for me won’t necessarily fail for you.
I actually think this plugin is a great idea and I haven’t seen anything like it on the web.
What do you think of Project Naptha? Did it work for you? Please tell me in the comments.
By the way, there are two pretty cool features that I almost forgot to mention:
1. Erasing Text
If you find an image with text in the foreground you can magically erase the text and “fill-in” the gap left behind. This is a mesmerizing feature that users of industry photo editors, such as Photoshop, have been enjoying for years.
Just select the text, right click it, go to Translate and choose Erase Text.
In the example below, I used this trick to erase the words “Remind yourself” from the image below.
Clearly it’s not perfect as you can still see vestiges of the removed text in the image below but it’s still a neat trick that’s available for you.
2. Burn baby burn
Instead of selecting the text, double-click it about a dozen times and watch it burn.
It’s a neat Egg that had me mesmerized for about 5 minutes.