Convert Image to Text or Table with the Office App

Remember that time you received a printout of a report with dozens, perhaps hundreds of numbers, but you needed the numbers in Excel?

How did you deal with the problem?

For most of us, there are two options:

  1. Spend money on a fancy program than can take a scanned document and turn it into editable data, or
  2. Manually type the data into a spreadsheet.

For most of us, option two was the unfortunate choice.

Never again!

Let’s see how we can turn our mobile phone into a high-quality scanner/converting appliance, and all for the low, low cost of nothing.

At the beginning of the year 2020, Microsoft released a mobile app called “Office”.

“Office” combines Word, Excel, and PowerPoint into a single app.  Included in the app are additional tools such as Stick Notes, PDF Tools, and File Transfer tools to facilitate the transfer of files from your mobile device to your computer.

Two of the greatest features of “Office” are:

  • The ability to convert an image of paragraph-style text to a Word document as editable text.
  • The ability to convert an image of a table to a table in Excel.

Installing “Office”

“Office” is a free app for iOS and Android.  If you search for “Office” in the app store of your device, it should be displayed at or near the top of the search results.

Once installed, click the “Office” icon to launch the app.

It won’t appear too impressive upon first launch, but that will quickly change.

Click the Actions button located at the bottom of the screen.

This will display many of the features available to you.  You may need to scroll down the list to see all available features.  Many of these will be covered in greater depth in future posts.

The two features we are interested in for this post are “Image To Text” and “Image To Table”.

Image To Text

Suppose we have the following document, and the hard-copy is the only form in which it exists, but we need to make edits to the content bordered in red and print an updated version.

Open the “Office” app and select Actions -> Image To Text.

This will activate the camera to allow you to frame the document and take a picture  (HINT: The closer and more level you can make the text, the better the quality and accuracy of the conversion.)

Use the resizing handles to surround the relevant text to be converted, then press Confirm.

Microsoft’s Azure Image Recognition functionality will automatically convert the image text into editable text.

If you are happy with the results, you can click Copy to place the text into device memory for use in any other application, or click Share to send the text to a message, email, Facebook, etc.

Image To Table

Another great feature is the ability to convert a printed table into an editable Excel table.

In our document, we have a table that we need to revise and reprint.

Open the “Office” app and select Actions -> Image To Table.

This will activate the camera to allow you to frame the table and take a picture  (HINT: As with taking a picture of text, the closer and more level you can make the text, the better the quality and accuracy of the conversion.)

Use the resizing handles to surround the relevant text to be converted, then press Confirm.

After the image has been processed, you have the option to open the converted table in the mobile version of Excel.

By clicking the Options button (3 stacked dots button at top right), we can print the table, export the table to a PDF file, or save the spreadsheet to our OneDrive folder.

The file can now be edited in Excel Online or Excel for Desktop.

Screen Captures

You are not limited to taking pictures of hard-copy printouts.  You can also take pictures of computer screens.

This would be ideal for when attending a presentation and you take a photo of the screen.  You can send the captured information to Word or Excel.

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