Have you taken pictures of signs or recipes with your Surface, so that you can save them or review them later? Have you wished that you could easily convert text in those pictures (such as a document or sign) to editable text in a Word or text document on your Surface? Well, you can use a technology called Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to do just that.
OCR is nothing new. In fact, there are several free or integrated options for OCR available online or for download. However, what if you just want to quickly extract text from a picture without uploading a file to some website or installing some (potentially shady) OCR software on your Surface?
If so, you can take advantage of a little-known OCR feature in OneDrive to get the text from picture files such as a png’s or jpg’s.
OCR with Windows 10 and OneDrive: How To Do It
To quickly extract text from pictures on your Surface, follow the steps below.
Note: For my example, I’m using an infographic I found online regarding the game Fallout 4 as it is fairly long and includes both text and pictures, so I feel it is a good demonstration file.
- Take a picture from your Surface and put it in your OneDrive folder. If you’ve set your default save location to be Onedrive, they will be there automatically.
- Using a web browser, go to http://onedrive.live.com and log in with your Microsoft account, when prompted.
- Find the picture in OneDrive and open it in your web browser, then tap or click on the “information” icon (looks like an “i” with a circle around it) in the lower right of the browser window.
- If the OCR in OneDrive is able to read the font, it will show all of the extracted text as shown below:
- Select the text by tapping or clicking on it and it will select the entire text block.
- From there, simply copy and paste the text into Word or another program.
As you can see, the extraction is not always perfect and it may require some cleanup and reformatting but it’s better than sifting through a picture file.
In addition, it works far better with printed materials than hand-written notes (so you’ll still be typing the recipe for your grandmother’s specialty soup by hand). However, it is quick, easy, and free. Better yet, you didn’t have to upload your file to some unknown website or download and install separate OCR software. All you need is a web browser and internet connection.
So now you have another quick and easy trick you can use to impress people and make them even more envious of your Surface tablet.
Tim Rolston is a professional geek with over 23 years of experience working in Information Technology and dealing with everything from large-scale storage to remote systems management and automation for organizations such as Texas Instruments, Mobil Oil, and the University of Michigan (where he was an Academic IT Director).
He co-founded JTRTech along with Joanna to realize his long-time dream of working for himself.