Management Assistance Program

Digitizing Handwritten Notes

By Jim Calloway

Last week in this space I discussed that the Snipping Tool can now extract text from images you snip. For many, the Holy Grail was when would text recognition tools be able to recognize handwritten notes, especially cursive, and extract the text. That day has now arrived. The tool to do so is free to use.

“When OpenAI supercharged the free version of ChatGPT with GPT-4o in May, users gained the ability to upload files, including images and documents, and to interact with images in multiple ways, such as extracting text,” according to recent ZDNET post How to use ChatGPT to digitize your handwritten notes for free.

For years I’ve been telling lawyers to scan their handwritten notes and file them in the digital client file, so the lawyer has a complete digital client file, even if the notes are not searchable. But now ChatGPT’s artificial intelligence capabilities can accomplish this and its parent company OpenAI has decided to include that in the free version of ChatGPT. You do have to set up an account and log in to access this feature.

One caveat is that handwritten notes are often about client matters. I think it is very important that all lawyers protect client confidentiality by telling ChatGPT not to use your queries or notes to further train the database. It turns out it’s now easy to stop OpenAI from training the chatbot by using your data by using its privacy portal to select “do not train on my content.” One author shows the steps and says it only takes three minutes to get it done.

Artificial Intelligence privacy protection tips like this are among the things you can learn at next week’s OBA Conference: Artificial Intelligence: Shaping the Future of Law Practice. More information and registration is available on our website.