Copy text from inserted pictures in OneNote for Mac

OneNote supports Optical Character Recognition (OCR), a process that recognizes text shown in pictures. OneNote can extract the text it recognizes in pictures so you can paste it elsewhere in your notes (or into another app), where you can edit and format the text as needed. This offers a convenient way to capture useful and important information that you would otherwise have to manually retype (for example, text on a business card or on a printed purchase receipt).

Suitable pictures for text recognition include photos you’ve taken with a cell phone or other type of camera, screenshots you’ve taken on your Mac, and images you’ve scanned with a flatbed or portable scanner.

Do the following:

  1. Scan or snap a picture of the text you want to capture.

  2. Insert or paste the picture on any page in OneNote.

  3. Control-click the picture, and then click Copy Text from Picture.

    Tip: Depending on the complexity, legibility, and the amount of text shown in the picture you’ve inserted, this command may not be immediately available on the menu that appears when you Control-click the picture. If OneNote is still reading and converting the text in the image, wait a few moments and then try again.

  4. In your notes (or in any other app), place the cursor where you want to paste the copied text, and then press Command-V.

Note:  The effectiveness of Optical Character Recognition depends on the quality of the picture you’ve captured and the legibility of the text in it. Text in photos should be sharp and clearly readable. Handwritten or highly stylized or script-like text will not work very well. After you’ve copied and pasted text from a picture, it’s a good idea to look it over to make sure that all of the text was recognized properly.

Expand your Office skills
Explore training
Get new features first
Join Office Insiders

Was this information helpful?

Thank you for your feedback!

Thank you for your feedback! It sounds like it might be helpful to connect you to one of our Office support agents.