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Office Lens: A OneNote scanner for your pocket

Today we announced three major OneNote developments, including Office Lens, a neat new app in the Windows Phone Store. The same functionality is built into the Windows 8 and iOS OneNote apps and can be accessed through the camera button in each app.

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Office Lens is an app that’s like having a scanner in your pocket. You can use it to take pictures of things like business cards, restaurant menus, notes on whiteboards or blackboards — anything you want to keep on hand. But unlike loose sticky notes, business cards or sketches on lunch napkins, you won’t lose track of your ideas when you capture them with Office Lens. Even things like children’s artwork is fair game. Snap a picture of that one-of-a-kind card your child made and it’ll be at your fingertips whenever you’d like to see it.

Office Lens trims, enhances and makes pictures readable. Weird angles are straightened, shadows are cleaned up and the images are automatically synced to OneNote, so you can get to them on all your devices.

When your picture includes printed text, such as a poster or business card, OneNote on a PC can recognize the text with optical character recognition (OCR) so you can search for words in the image — and you can edit the text, or copy and paste it into apps like email and documents.

Office Lens has three modes, or settings, that help make your captures look their best:

  • With Whiteboard mode, glare and shadows disappear.
  • With Document mode, text is clear and easy to read.
  • With Photo mode, you can take pictures of people and scenery.
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Office Lens: Before and after

If you already have pictures on your phone, you can edit them in Office Lens and clean them up too. See how it works in the video below.

Office Lens is free in the Windows Phone Store. Install it and try it out today.

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Please let us know in the comments or in the app store if you have any feedback. We would love to hear from you.

 

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40 comments

  1. Looking forward to trying this app out on my Windows Phone. Keep up the great work OneNote Team!

  2. I’ve downloaded it and kicked the tires a bit. The new app looks very promising and I look forward to using it in the future. What I would like to see is some kind of “edit” option after scanning a document. I would at least like to see a “rotate” option. I scanned a document and I couldn’t quarter turn it, a bit disappointing. Please, please, include this feature in a future release. Thanks for a great app!!

  3. This is an excellent app. When will it be available for a mobile platform that people actually use?

  4. Photos seem to work quite well, but no sign of the OCR capability. I have tried whiteboards with what should be legible text, a book cover and a printout of text and just get pictures, with no sign of any recognized text.

    • Thank you dtonn for your feedback. Please try opening your page with OneNote app on PC? Actually, there is no sign of any recognized text on Office Lens and OneNote on Windows Phone.

      • Hello! I have the same problem! Also tried opening with OneNote app on PC! NO sign of OCR!

      • I opened a whiteboard image in OneNote application and still see no sign of OCR. There is nothing obvious except the image itself (which is fine) and trying to select the text on the whiteboard doesn’t do anything except select the entire image.

        It would be useful to have the demo video showing the steps to using the OCR’d text in OneNote. Also, should we eventually expect the OCR’d text to work in OneNote web?

          • Sorry dtonn for the late reply. Actually, we don’t support hand written text. OCR can be done only for printed texts. However, it seems you have already tried it out with printed documents. If so, could you please tell me in which language the document is written? Thanks.

          • Hello Yu, yes I tried it with a printed document, which was in English but also had a lot of numeric content, i.e. it was very similar to the receipt you show in the example gallery.

            But if the app currently doesn’t support handwritten text, then I shouldn’t expect any OCR on a whiteboard, correct? Handwritten text would be a great addition for a future version!

            Thanks!

        • On OneNote online or iPad, you can search a page using OCRed text but it can not be seen. You can’t also copy/paste OCRed text. Please do it on PC client. Thank you for your patience.

    • In OneNote 2013 on my PC, I brought up the image and right clicked it. The option to make text searchable was on the bottom of the right click menu.

      • You are quite right! I tried this and it does work with documents. For some reason I was under the impression that the Office Lens was going to make this happen automatically and that the text would be searchable as soon as the image appeared in OneNote.

        Thanks for the tip!

  5. Any chance this will come to iPhone? I use OneNote across PC, Mac and iOS … and would love this app for iPhone!

  6. It is great but there some thing should be added to make it perfect IMHO.

    First in the Office lens there should be rotating function since it is not avaliable in the OneNote WP app (rotating Picture effects OCR recognition).

    Second, multiple pictures from gallery could be imported at once. it is a pain if you want to add 6 or 7 whiteboard pictures into same note.

    Third, that would be great to pick pre-created OneNote sections to add the scanned file. (like adding screenshot to current section in OneNote on PC).

    Fourth, pressing camera button in OneNote WP app should give an option to user to pick normal lens or Office lens.

    thanks.

  7. Does the OCR work on OneNote Online or on OneNote 2010 on the PC? I don’t manage to make it work!
    Thans

    • Hi
      I got it to work on OneNote 2013 for PC.
      If you rightclick on the picture imported, you can choose copy text from picture.
      Then you have to paste it in another document in OneNote.
      You can also rightclick in the picture and choose the language OCR should read.
      Hope this works for you

      • I’m sorry that my response is delayed.
        Could you please double check if your device has network connection?
        If it’s connected, could you please check if your OneDrive storage is full?
        We’re sorry for your inconvenience but make the image OCRed, the image needs to be uploaded to OneNote.
        Thank you for your patience.

  8. I’ve tested OfficeLens out and love the function of it. The thing I need though is to be able to sync it with office 365. It asks me to sign in with a Microsoft Account but is there a way to sign in with an Organizational Account?

  9. I usually don’t comment on these blogs, but this app is phenomenal. My son has dyslexia and we purchase an Intel reader. It was $600 and did a marginal job at taking a pic and reading a passage back. My son hated the device. With Office lens he can snap the picture it transfers to One Note and he highlights the image which brings up a menu. The menu has a Copy Text from image command. (This is the OCR part I believe people are messing. He can paste the text right next to the original image and have OneNote read the passage back. Very simple and he likes it and it enhances his comprehension.

    It might be nice to include in the surface or tablets so you only have to use one device,,, in the case of a child at school. Having on the phone is great for me at work and personally. Anytime I get a doc now I just scan and toss. I love One Note and pretty much use it on an every day basis.

  10. Hello, guys.

    Im using this app on my windows phone. I think I found a bug but, couldnt find where to report it.

    The thing is that, everytime I create documents with office lens, when I try to open them in one note it says:

    Destination not found
    OneNote can’t open this.

    I did a cleanup of books on my one note, perhaps I deleted the notebook used by office lens.

    I dont know how to fix this, could you guys help me?

    Thanks.

  11. I love this app! My family and I use Neat receipts monthly to scan all of our receipts and it gets annoying having some receipts get faded and its troubling to edit the receipts. This makes my day easier for scanning and I’m hoping for the Neat Receipt company to take notice and have is transfer the receipts from One Note, to their software.

  12. Potentially one of the most usable applications for WP8 so far.
    However I am unable to save my scans. The app crashes to start menu whenever I press ‘save’ icon :(