It seems like such a great idea, just snap a picture of a return address label on a holiday card and the data goes into your contacts. Maybe tag them and next year you just pull them up to know who sent you a holiday card this year.

Well, a great idea yesterday is easy to do these days!

There are a few ‘scanner’ iPhone apps – divided down into text or business cards… free to very expensive, by iOS app standards. The ‘text’ one work good for magazine articles or what is written on a whiteboard. The Business card apps are closer to what you need since they take the text and insert it into contact’s fields.

Rather than buying several different apps, for this walk through I will use Prizmo. It does text, business cards, etc… collecting it’s data from images taken with a iPhone. I had really bad luck with ‘scanning’ bills and receipts so I stick to using the app for text and addresses.

After you shoose what the image will be used for or what your taking a picture with, you can crop the image down to just the text area. Cropping makes the photographing go much quicker since close enough is ‘good’ enough, Just Crop after the image is in the iPhone.

Nothing to do in this step, Prizmo ‘scans’ the image on it’s own and presents you with the OCR’d results.

An extra step that Prizmo provides if you choose is to ‘Optimize’ the text. The slider will sharpen letters and drop out all background garbage on one end and the other end is exactly as the iPhone took the image.

This is the result of using the ‘text’ option of Prizmo. You have text that you can edit but saving will be a document that has text and not a contact.

Choosing the Business Card option will result in the converted text being in boxes that you can assign the fields/categories to. A ‘category’ options are names, address, city, state, country etc… This is also the area of Prizmo that you use to clean up any text that isn’t exactly correct. In this example, Prizmo missed one letter in the whole address. Most return address labels are ready pretty well so this process can go quickly.

From this screen, you can go back and edit again or save to the iPhone’s contact area which will sync to your desktop via iTunes.