Using the Data In Picture feature in the Excel mobile app

I first learned about this feature from my friend and colleague Christian Buckley a few months ago when he presented it as a tip in one of our Office Productivity Tips webcasts. However, at that time it appeared that it was only “coming soon” in the Android version of the Excel mobile app. But now the feature is fully rolled out, and it’s in the iOS version too! SQUEEEEE! The ability to take a picture of a data table and have it converted into rows and tables of an Excel spreadsheet is pure awesomeness. Here’s how it works…

Here I have a screen print of my Excel mobile app on my iOS phone. I select Insert > Data from Picture:

excel-datafrompicture-20190531-1

Using my phone’s camera, I take a picture of a data table. I found this one using Google Search:

excel-datafrompicture-20190531-2

After the picture is taken, I can use the drag handles to make sure all of the image is captured:

excel-datafrompicture-20190531-3

Once I click Done, Excel shows me the “scrubbed version” of the picture, as well as how it will interpret it as rows and tables. If it couldn’t determine what’s in the table, it will tell me that some clean-up is needed. I also need to review the data and make sure that it came across correctly. Once all that is done, I click Insert:

excel-datafrompicture-20190531-4

Lo and behold, I have that data table picture loaded into my Excel spreadsheet as actual rows and tables!

excel-datafrompicture-20190531-5

I’ll reiterate that you *are* responsible for checking to make sure all the values match the picture, as Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is only as good as the picture that was captured. But still… that’s a whole lot easier than having to re-type everything by hand. 🙂

2 Comments

  1. Hi Tom, this is a super interesting feature. I used to use workarounds to accomplish the same thing (Picture –> PDF –> OCR –> Excel)… unfortunately, my version of Excel on my iOS does not seem to have this yet… are you using an insider verison perhaps?

    Like

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