Last week, TIME named Office Lens one of the Top 5 iPhones Apps for the week– and for good reason. The free app, one of the most popular Windows Phones apps and newly available on iPhone and Android, makes scanning documents, photos and even whiteboards, easy.
From the App Store description:
Office Lens trims, enhances and makes pictures of whiteboards and documents readable. Office Lens can convert images to editable Word and PowerPoint files too.
Office Lens is like having a scanner in your pocket. Like magic, it will digitalize notes on whiteboards or blackboards. Always find important documents or business cards. Sketch your ideas and snap a picture for later. Don't lose receipts or stray sticky notes again!
We’ve been using it around the PTG office and have become big fans. Here’s a few reasons why:
1. It works and works well.
Using Office Lens is pretty straight forward without a lot of bells and whistles – and that’s a good thing. If you can take a picture on your phone, you already know how to scan something in Lens.
Here’s how to use Office Lens:
- Select what you want to scan (photo, document or whiteboard): To select, you slide between the options on the camera screen.
- Scan: Scanning works basically the same way as taking a picture with your phone. Best part? You don’t have to take the image straight on. Lens will find the edges and clean up the image for you.
- Crop the image (if you need to): This is the only editing option you have in the app (and really, the only one you need). If you need to crop anything out of the image, you can do that before saving. Lens is good at finding the edges of what you scan, so you probably won’t need to unless you only want to save part of what you’re scanning.
- Save or share your scan: Your scan can be saved in multiple places and in multiple formats (more on that below).
That’s it - incredibly simple to use and the scans turn out great. Check the end of the post for some examples.
2. You can share with multiple programs, like OneDrive and OneNote.
Another reason we’re using Lens is the ability share or save our scans with programs we’re already using like OneNote, OneDrive, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint and email.
This is a huge help for saving meeting notes. I keep all my notes in OneNote so I can access them across devices. In meetings, though, I like to write with pen and paper or on a white board. With Lens, I can scan those notes then access them anywhere and export them directly to OneNote. If I need to share my notes, I can immediately share with my team with a public OneDrive or by emailing them.
The ability to export to OneDrive is a big selling point for us, too. Our team uses OneDrive in place of saving documents to our computer, so being able to export scans directly to where we’re already storing everything without having to go through a multistep process is huge.
3. It reduces the need for a physical scanner.
No, Office Lens isn’t going to be replacing your scanner if a large part of your job is scanning multipage documents. But for a lot of people, Office Lens can reduce the need for a physical scanner.
At PTG, our main scanner is connected to our office manager’s computer since most of our employees don’t need to use one on a regular basis. That meant that when an employee did need to scan a document, both of their work days were interrupted. We’re now using Office Lens. Sure, was a small pain point, but we’re fans of anything that make our work day more productive.
Here are some examples so you can see what your scans will look like. The image on the right is the angle we scanned from and the image on the left was the final results. Click the image to expand to full size.