Quick Tip: Quick and easy OCR (optical character recognition) with OneNote

In a new series of posts I plan to share a range of tips for making life that little bit easier. Generally this falls within the realm of ‘general tips’ or ‘productivity tips’ but it may extend further if they are well received (or if I get enough time to write them down!) .

First up we are going to look at a handy OCR feature in OneNote.

OCR for those not acronym-inclined is optical character recognition – or even better yet, its identifying words within pictures.

Cool technology but why on earth would I need to use something like that? Well if your like me and you’re an obsessive screen clip taker you sometimes find that you actually want the text within the screen grab and not a huge embedded image.

Sure you can often go back to the source, find the content you screen grabbed and select the text, and that might be easier for you, but there are other cases where you simply can’t select the text for one reason or another. Protected PDF’s, screenshots from overs and text within data sources that don’t lend themselves to straight forward text exporting (trust me – there are some).

Well, how do you use such fancy technology? By using the heavily underrated OneNote of course – and its so easy!

Simply do a screen grab with your favourite method (mine also uses OneNote’s screen clipping feature – explained here) and paste your screen grab into OneNote.

Then, all you need to do is paste your clipboard to get the converted text from the image.

Viola! You are done..

Now this technology is obviously not foolproof and non-standard fonts and special characters tend to confuse things a little, but at worst this generally means just tidying up odd words manually, but overall the text is converted correctly.

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2 thoughts on “Quick Tip: Quick and easy OCR (optical character recognition) with OneNote

    • Hi Lily,
      I’ve had a brief look into OCR before and while this is not fully featured or as accurate as full-blown OCR products, I’d say it does quite a nice job given its bundled free with Microsoft Office.
      Hope you find the post useful

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