@R-Hack: If an iPad app has no copy and paste feature, “OCR” a screen grab

I’m a fan of the Kindle ebook reader iPad app. However, like the other popular ebook reader app for DRM‘d books, Apple’s iBooks, the Kindle app lacks a feature that is essential for those who read ebooks in the context of research and other writing projects: the ability to clip a brief section of text that can be transferred to another document — the simple cut and paste feature. 

As cut-and-paste is a feature on many iPad apps, I assume that book publishers have arbitrarily put the kibosh on ebook clipping — even when the clipped text is as short as the less-than-full-page sections a reader is limited to with highlighting and notations.

So here’s my work-around.

Explained in the “how-to” steps below, the hack takes advantage of the screen-shot feature of the iPad: While pressing down the round, concave “home-button,” quickly click the on-off switch (think of it as a camera shutter button) and you’ll snap (a white flash will even appear on screen) a very crisp JPEG of whatever is on the screen. The screenshot is auto-saved as a JPEG in your iPad’s photo gallery. Using one of several methods*, move the screen-grab JPEG to your computer. Upload the JPEG to Google Docs with the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) option selected and, automagically, the JPG turns into text on the resulting Google word-processing document.

Oh, and here is the text from the page I used in this example, a page from  Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom:

“Apple Computer must be way more committed to a better world, because iPods are so much cooler-looking than other MP3 players, which is why they’re so much more expensive and incompatible with other companies’ software, because-well, actually, it’s a little unclear why, in a better world, the very coolest products have to bring the very most obscene profits to a tiny number of residents of the better world.”

*Fast way to move bulk JPEGs to your computer: Use Dropbox & CameraSync. Simple way to move one JPEG: Email it)

[I like technology that helps me find, collect and organize the information, content and media I want or need to pursue my passions, be productive at work, stay in touch with those important to me and to, it may surprise some, to simplify my life. I dislike technology that adds hassle, noise and distraction. @R-Hacks are posts that describe how I use the helpful technology and work-around the junk.]