Optical Character Recognition (OCR) in OneNote

There’s nothing more frustrating to see some interesting writing on a page, and you can’t copy it into a Word document as it’s actually part of an image (like an image caption). But with OneNote, you can use the built-in Optical Character Recognition (OCR) feature to get the text in the image turned back into real text you can copy and paste. Here’s how…

Below is an image and paragraph related to Bitcoin. I actually captured the picture and the text below it as an image, so I can’t modify the text or copy it to use in another document or email:


To get the text out of the image (after I copy it onto a OneNote page), I can right-click on the image and choose Copy Text From Picture:


Once I do that, I can then paste the contents of my copy anywhere (like in the same OneNote document) and I’ll get just the text that was in the image:

          @ Vladimir Astapkovich—Sputnik via AP

          For an asset often named in tandem with drug trafficking and the dark web just a few            years ago, it’s hard to imagine that optimism surrounding Bitcoin’s potential                          legitimacy could take the asset to more than $11,000 in value as of Wednesday.

This can be incredibly handy when you can’t copy and paste text from some source you find online (or if someone sent you an image of a PDF instead of the PDF itself). Do keep in mind that OCR, while far better than it used to be, is still only as good as the image it’s examining. If the image has fuzzy letters, has been photocopied multiple times, or has a weird background behind the text, the results may not be very accurate. Always proof-read whatever you copy when you use OCR.


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