OCR with One Note

Posted: April 2, 2015 in Features

Has it ever happened to you – that you’ve requested a piece of information from your colleague, manager, client, etc and they’ve just sent you a screen grab (an image ) of the piece of information.

Now if the requested information is large or has data with numbers, then this just only increases the task of you having to manually type down each piece of information / number and double or even triple check to ensure that you’ve not missed out anything or incorrectly typed / transposed the digits / characters. And there you are at your wits ends – (of course you could once again ask for the data to be sent in a required format – however that may put you in an awkward position). At such times you just wish you were simply able to copy & paste the data from the screen grab (image ) – this would make life so much easy. Well – this is where OCR – comes into play.


OCR (Optical Character Recognition) – as defined on Wikipedia  is the mechanical or electronic conversion of images of typewritten or printed text into machine-encoded text. To put it in layman terms – the ability to copy typewritten or printed text from images and then be able to paste it into any other application like word, excel, email clients etc.


Now there are various software available in the market / online which provide OCR – however you will have to buy these and then there is always the cost factor.

Here is where the Microsoft® OneNote® comes in handy. Bundled as part of the Microsoft Office Suite, this is an extremely power packed tool for note taking, collaboration and collating data.

Amongst the various features available with OneNote – its OCR feature “Copy Text From Picture” is fantastic.



And here is the text:

52 Boss monitor cracked
54 Tea samovar defect
53 Vacuum server inside
51 Printer toner cartridge
56 Switch mouse to USB
55 Coffee machine defect

Again, the field of OCR is an evolving one and hence at times depending on the Font of the text or the clarity of the character in the image file – an “O” could be replaced with a “0”, an “l” for a “1” and so on and so forth. No system is perfect and OneNote does get a majority of the work done.


The second key feature of OneNote that impressed me a lot and one which I use so frequently is its ability to take screen grabs aka the Print-Screen function.

This feature can be activated by starting up One-Note and then Clicking the Windows Key(windows_key)and S.

The moment you do this the Screen is covered by a transparent layer and a cross-hair (+) is displayed. Then all you do is keeping the left mouse key pressed – you drag the cross-hair (+) to select the part of screen which you want to Grab. The moment you release the left mouse key – it takes a snapshot of the screen over which you have dragged the cross-hair.

If you are doing this for the very first time – then OneNote gives a pop-up window asking you the section/book into which you want to save the screen grab or do you want to just keep it on the system clipboard and then make the image available to be inserted (pasted) into any word/ excel / rich text editor / email editor etc.

Learn more on What’s new in OneNote 2013 !




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