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Microsoft Office 365 – Copy Text from an Image with OneNote

By August 30, 20174 Comments

A few years ago, I started the daunting process of digitizing recipes from cookbooks and notecards. Scanning all of these recipes was a good start, but that still doesn’t make them searchable or editable. I wanted to extract the text from the scans, but software and scanners for that exact purpose were (way) too expensive.  Eventually, I stumbled upon this tip and it has proven time and time again to be one of my favorite Office 365 discoveries–and saved me a lot of pain with my recipe project.

To copy text from an image with OneNote, first get your source image. This can be a screenshot, smartphone picture, printer scan–as long as it has legible text. Paste or Insert it into OneNote, then right-click and select “Copy Text from Picture”:

Paste the text:

Old Field Name
new vendor
Old Display Name
Equipment Price
Equipment Trade In Amount
Old Field Type
Lookup (vendor)

Another example:

Project A
Task 1
Task 2
Task 3
o Sub-task 1
o Sub-task 2

As you can see, this feature will not format the text in any way and can easily mistake numbers (or bullets) for letters. Typos are fairly common–especially when copying text from a handwritten note or scan–so watch out for mistakes. For me, however, the pain of editing a few errors beats the pain of retyping everything from scratch!


Megan Hagedorn

Author Megan Hagedorn

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Pay says:

    Have you noticed the feature is GONE? I too lived on this feature and loved it. I have switched to Windows 10 and one note grabs pics but the command in the drop down is GONE! And no one is talking about it.

    • Megan Hagedorn says:

      Hello! I just tested this myself and can confirm, for me, the option to copy text from a picture DOES still exist in OneNote! I’m not aware of any settings to enable/disable it, though.. maybe try either updating Office if possible or even running a repair on Office from Windows settings

  • Dion says:

    I have both OneNote 365 and OneNote 2016 installed on my computer. For me OneNote 365 does not have the “Copy Text from Picture” feature but OneNote 2016 does have that feature.

    • MeganH says:

      Hi there,
      Apologies for the delay in response, I am seeing the same–the feature is available in OneNote 2016, but not the OneNote App.

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