Microsoft Office Lens is a great way to capture information from documents, whiteboards, business cards, receipts, menus, signs, handwritten memos, or anything else containing text that you want to import but not manually type out yourself. With Office Lens, you don’t need to jot down any notes by hand, rely on blurry cell phone images, or worry about misplacing anything.
Office Lens is great for capturing sketches, drawings and equations too — even images without text. When capturing images, Office Lens gets rid of shadows and odd angles, so your final captures are easier to see. You can upload document and whiteboard images to Microsoft OneNote, Word, PowerPoint, or OneDrive, and you can also save them as PDF files or send them in email.
If you haven’t already, you can download the latest version of Office Lens for free from the App Store.
Step 1: Choose what to capture
As soon as you open Office Lens, you can choose a capture mode.
Swipe left or right near the bottom of the screen to select either Whiteboard, Document, Business Card, or Photo.
Whiteboard This mode is best used for capturing handwritten notes and sketches on a dry erase board or a similar surface. Office Lens will adjust your images so that the background isn’t too bright and the ink strokes are easier to see.
Document This mode is optimized for small words that are written or typed on a page or on a note. It’s also great for things like forms, receipts, posters, fliers, or restaurant menus.
Business Card This mode captures contact information from a business card and saves it to the Contacts app on your iPhone or iPad, as well as to Microsoft OneNote. This feature currently works best with business cards in English, German, Spanish, or Simplified Chinese.
Photo This mode is best used for capturing images containing scenery or people.
Step 2: Take a picture
After you’ve selected your capture mode in Step 1, you can either take a new picture with your camera, or import an existing image from your device.
Do either of the following:
To take a picture with your iPhone or iPad, point the camera at the item you want to capture and make sure that the orange frame in the camera outlines the item you want to capture. Your camera’s flash is set to go off automatically (if needed), but you can change this setting by tapping the Flash icon in the upper right corner of the capture window. When you’re ready to take the picture, tap the round Camera button at the bottom center of your screen.
Tip: People who are blind or have low vision can use the VoiceOver feature in iOS to get real-time voice guidance in Office Lens — such as “move right,” “move up,” and more. For more information, see Accessibility in Office Lens for iOS.
If you prefer, you can import an existing image from any Photo Album on your device. In the Office Lenscapture screen, tap the Picture button near the lower left corner of the capture window. Navigate to the photo album containing the picture you want to use, and then tap it to import it into Office Lens.
If you want to retake the picture with your camera, or choose a different picture than the one you selected, tap the X (Close) button in the upper left corner of the screen, tap Discard Image, and then start over by returning to Step 1.
Step 3: Review and edit
Office Lens lets you edit a captured image before you save it, so it looks exactly how you want.
Tap any of the icons that appear in the upper right corner to begin editing or adjusting the captured image. You can Crop or Rotate the image, or annotate it with Text or with the Pen.
You can also tap Filters at the bottom center of the screen to quickly apply visual enhancements to selected image (for example, to remove all colors from a document).
By using the Crop feature, you can trim away any unwanted parts of the image by excluding them from your selection.
When you have finished cropping the image, tap Done in the lower right corner. If you want, you can then continue editing the current image with any of the other editing tools.
When you’re done editing the current image, tap Done > in the lower right corner.
Tip: If you add a caption to the image, it will be used as the alt text in Microsoft OneNote, as well as the file title when saving the image to Microsoft OneDrive.
Step 4: Save and share
If your image was captured in Whiteboard, Document, or Photo mode, you can save it to your iPhone or iPad’s Photo Library. You can also save the image as a PDF (Portable Document Format) file, or save it to Microsoft OneNote, OneDrive, Word, or PowerPoint. In addition, you can also send the image via Microsoft Outlook or the Mail app in iOS.
Note: If you choose to save the image to OneNote, OneDrive, Word, or PowerPoint, you may be prompted to sign in with your Microsoft Account or your Work or School account.
If you want Office Lens to read aloud any text found in the captured image, tap Immersive Reader. For more information, see Accessibility in Office Lens for iOS.
If you want Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to be applied to your captured image, use the Word option. Office Lens will create a Word file in your OneDrive account, which will automatically extract all legible text that is found in your captured image.
If your image was captured in Business Card mode, tap OneNote (Contact + Image) to save it as a vCard (.vcf file). Alternately, if you want to save the image to the Photo Library on your iPhone or iPad, tap Photo Library and then tap Close.
Captured images saved as Word, PowerPoint, or PDF files will be in your Documents folder on OneDrive, so you can access them from any of your devices. PDF files can also be saved locally on your iPhone or iPad, and you can edit the save location for your PDF by tapping the Save button.
Office Lens doesn’t just import an image into a Word or PowerPoint file. The final Word and PowerPoint documents are real Microsoft Office documents.
Microsoft Word Office Lens can recognize handwritten or typed and printed text, as well as the general layout of what you capture. As a result, the text, formatting, and layout in the Word document that Office Lens creates are fully editable — just as if you authored the document yourself.
Microsoft PowerPoint can recognize handwritten lines and strokes that are transformed into drawing objects that can be re-colored, resized, moved around, and edited. You can also remove the background of drawings, which makes it easier to reuse them in other presentations.
PDF (Portable Document Format) files Office Lens extract the text information from a captured image. You can search the text contents of a PDF file and highlight or copy any part of the page with your PDF Reader app.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is supported in the following languages:
Word, PDF, OneDrive, OneNote, Immersive Reader
English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish
Business Card mode (OneNote)
English, Simplified Chinese, German, Spanish
To make it easier to work with Office Lens, you can connect a keyboard to your device with either Bluetooth or USB. In addition, iOS has Accessibility settings that can help you use Office Lens in a way that works best for you. On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > General > Accessibility to turn on features like VoiceOver. For more information, see Apple iPhone and iPad Accessibility Support.