OCR in OneNote

OneNote is good for a lot of things–like taking notes–but did you know that you can also use it as a quick & dirty OCR? It’s a snap to use, too. Just copy an image from the clipboard onto a OneNote page, then right-click and choose Copy Text from Picture.

copy-text-from-picture

OneNote works its magic and copies the text it finds to the clipboard. Here’s what the image above produces:

File Edit Format View 
I love text! 
Texty, text, text! 
Untitled - 
Help 
Notepad 
Ln2, Col

You can see that it’s far from perfect. I’m not sure why “Untitled -” and “Notepad” aren’t together or why they’re not at the top. It also didn’t do a great job with the text in the status bar, reading Ln 2, Col 19 as Ln2, Col. But it did a good job with the meaty part that I’d actually care about.

Let’s try a more complicated example. Behold, a screen-grab of the lipsum.com Lorem Ipsum generator homepage!
lorem-ipsum

This image has a little bit of everything. There are letters, numbers, columns, different fonts and sizes, and even a background with words! Here’s what OneNote gives us:

Lorevn Ipsuvn 
"Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem 'psum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adpsci vellt 
'There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain 
What is Lorem Ipsum? 
Lorem Ipsum IS simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting 
industry Lorem psum has been the industry's standard dummy text 
ever since the ISOOs, when an unknown printer took a galley of type 
scrambled t to make a type specimen boobc It has survwed not 
only fwe centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, 
remaining essentially unchanged It was popularised in the 1960s with 
the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem psum passages, and 
more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus ageMaker 
including versions of Lorem 
Where Does it come from? 
Contrary to popular belief, Lorem psum is not simply random text It 
has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it 
over 2000 years old Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at 
Hampden-Sydney College in V'rgnia, looked up one of the more 
obscure Latin words, consectetur from a Lorem psum passage, and 
gong through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the 
undoubtable source Lorem psum comes from sections UllY32 and 
IA1133 of "de Finibus aonorum et Malorum- (The Extremes of Good 
and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC This book is a treatise on the 
theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance The first line of 
LÆrem psum, "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet comes from a line in 
section 32 
The standard chunk of Lorem Ipsum used since the ISOOs is 
reproduced below for those interested Sections T1032 and IAIY33 
from "de Finibus aonorum et Malorum" by Cicero are also reproduced 
in their exact original form, accompanied by English versions from the 
1914 translation by Rackham 
Why Do we use it? 
It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the 
readable content of a page when looking at its layout The point of using 
Lorem psum is that t has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters 
as opposed to using 'Content here, content here making it look like 
readable Many desktop publishing packages and web page 
editors now use Lorem psum as their default model text and a search 
for 'lorem ipsum' will uncover many web sites still 'n their infancy 
Various versions have evolved over the years, sometimes by accident, 
sometimes on purpose (injected humour and the like) 
Where can I get some? 
There are many variations of passages of Lorem Ipsum available, but 
the mayorty have suffered alteration In some form, by Injected humour, 
or randomised words which dom look even slightly believable If you 
are going to use a passage of Lorem psum, you need to be sure there 
ism anything embarrassing hidden n the middle of text All the Lorem 
Ipsum generators on the Internet tend to repeat predefined chunks as 
necessary, making this the first true generator on the Internet It uses a 
dictionary of over 200 Latin words, combined wth a handful of model 
sentence structures, to generate Lorem psum which looks reasonable 
The generated Lorem psum is therefore always free from repetition, 
injected humour, or non-characteristic words etc 
paragraphs 
by tes 
Start with 'Lorem 
ips um dolor sit 
Generate Lorem Ipsum 

Okay, pretty good. It did an admirable job of detecting the paragraphs and columns. Most of the words came out fine, but there were problems with numbers (1500s read as ISOOs) like we saw with the simple Notepad example. There were a lot of small typos (reados?), like dropped periods or a missing letter here and there. The takeaway here is that any decent amount of text that you care about should be proofread. If you’re too lazy for proofreading, you might be able to clean it up a bit by pasting into Word and using its spelling and grammar checking.

Despite its flaws, it’s a really fast, really easy way to OCR just about anything you can get on your computer screen. Take a screenshot using Snipping Tool or something better, paste it into OneNote, and OCR that mamma jamma!

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