I recently needed to convert text from a PDF file to ASCII text for pasting into an HTML document. I found that a Windows freeware program, FreeOCR, did exactly what I needed.
OCR (Optical Character Recognition) programs have always been clunky. For many years OmniPage was the benchmark OCR program, but it’s large, expensive, and consumes mass quantities of CPU cycles and memory. I was delighted to learn that FreeOCR loads quickly and has an interface that’s easy to learn. It can read PDF files directly, or accept input from Windows’ clipboard. It can also read JPG and other image files or accept input from a TWAIN-compliant document scanner. My tests with a network attached HP scanner went perfectly.
Read user reviews of FreeOCR and download it from CNET’s site: http://download.cnet.com/FreeOCR/.