Office Lens is a free mobile app from Microsoft that enables you to save documents, business cards, whiteboards, receipts and similar items to your phone and online. Scan and save everything!
Using your phone to scan in documents and save them is not new and there are many apps that can perform this function, such as TurboScan. However, Microsoft Office Lens has a few tricks up its sleeve that might persuade you to switch.
The app was originally only on Windows Phone, but recently Microsoft made it available for Android and iOS. Considering that Google and Apple have something like a 95% market share between them, that’s a good idea. There must have been hardly any users previously.
I tried the Android version on a Samsung Galaxy S4 running Android Lollipop.
The controls in the app are minimal and it uses the phone’s camera to take a photo of the item you want to save. The picture resolution can be selected and any supported by the phone can be selected. It does not need to be super high resolution and I got good results with just 3.1M images (2048 x 1536 pixels).
There is a choice of Document, Whiteboard or Photo, and after selecting the appropriate one, you can take the photo by tapping the large button at the bottom of the screen. You can also import images from the phone’s gallery too.
I didn’t try a white piece of paper on a white background, but assuming there is some contrast, the app automatically recognises the item being scanned and indicates this on the screen before you take the shot. It does not even need to be square on and it copes with angles.
Once it has been taken, it shows a full screen image so that you can check it. There is an option to delete it, crop it or save it. The save options include OneNote, OneDrive, Word, PowerPoint, PDF or the phone’s photo gallery. Any number of these can be ticked.
It is biased towards Office apps, of course, because this is a tool for Office users. An image saved to the gallery could then be exported to other apps, online storage and so on using Android’s regular sharing facilities.
It appears as a Quick Note in OneNote and it must be doing some OCR because you can search for text in OneNote and if it is in the Office Lens scanned image, it is returned in the search results.
Office Lens does not include any document management facilities. You take a snap, save it and that’s it. Managing your scans is done in other Office apps like OneNote, where you can organise them into notebooks, access them in the OneNote app on your computer or using the web-based OneNote app at the OneDrive website.
This is a simple, free, and useful tool from Microsoft. It is best if you use Office, but it can also be used as a general tool to scan and save images of documents, business cards, receipts and so on.
Title: Office Lens
Developer: Microsoft Corporation
Size: 32 MB
Android: 4.1 and up
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Created: 24 June 2015