OfficeLens: A free Scanning App

Published: Thursday July 18, 2019 16:35

OfficeLens by Microsoft is a free scanning app that can run OCR on images with text, but only when you use it in conjunction with other apps, namely OneDrive and Word. It requires a Microsoft account, but all the apps are free. The OCR processing doesn't happen in the OfficeLens app itself. Rather, you must save the image as a .docx file to OneDrive and then open it in Word (mobile app, web app, or desktop app) to get the workable text. Having to use a second app doesn't give you the same convenience that you get from other mobile scanning and OCR apps, but if you can spare the hassle of jumping to another app, you might find better accuracy in the final product than what you get from some of the one-stop shops. Plus it's all free.

Office Lens trims, enhances, and makes pictures of whiteboards and documents readable. You can use Office Lens to convert images to PDF, Word and PowerPoint files, and save to OneNote,  OneDrive, or your local device. Word did turn three scanned pages into nine typed pages with huge swathes of empty space between some sections, but overall the quality was very high. The table looked nearly flawless. There were a few places in the text where the OCR didn't seem to render, and instead of making a garbled guess, Microsoft instead swapped in a clip of the image (see above). It's a great approach because I as a human can quickly read the text in the image and type what I see, saving me the time of comparing the incorrect digitized text to the original.

OfficeLens has four scanning modes: Business Card, Document, Whiteboard, and Photo for when you're taking pictures of anything other than writing. The app has sharing options for opening the file in another app, saving the image locally, and printing, in addition to options for working with other Microsoft products. 

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