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What is Office Lens?

Office Lens is a Microsoft app available on Android and iOs devices that turns your camera, tablet or other mobile device into a scanner.

If you have a task (for example for an assessment exercise) that requires a drawn or handwritten answer, you can make your sketch, diagram, chart or handwritten text by hand, scan it and save it for use in a document or uploading as an image or PDF. Example tasks:

  • a tree diagram
  • a valency diagram
  • an equation
  • sketching a graph of a function

You take a picture of it with your mobile device and save in a convenient digital format for further use, including inserting into an Office document (Word, PowerPoint, Excel for example).

Step 1: Download Office Lens

  1. Download the app from the following app stores.

The Office Lens App.

Figure 1. The Office Lens App Icon

Step 2: Open Office Lens

Once you have installed it, you simply open the app and point it at your image. The app has auto-focus (this may be dependent on your device) and edge recognition so that it will try to isolate rectangular regions of the image.

The main screen pre capture.

Figure 2. The main screen pre capture

You will need to practise focussing your device camera to get a good image in the correct orientation.

Step 3: Choose the mode

Office Lens has different modes suitable for different tasks. They will not all be suitable for your assessment tasks.

For anything handwritten, the Whiteboard mode is probably the best option.

Whiteboard

Whiteboard mode is suitable for taking a snap of a sketch, hand-drawn diagram, equation etc. Lens will adjust images so that backgrounds are not too bright and you can focus so as to make writing readable. This works well on both paper and whiteboards.

Document

This mode is designed to read machine-produced text. If the text is good enough quality you can use optical character recognition once it is captured.

Photo

This is for capturing photorealistic images of objects, people, scenes and so on.

Business Card

It is unlikely this mode will be useful to you. It is designed to capture contact information and store it in a Microsoft contacts database.


A Capture with camera button and mode choices.

Figure 3. A Capture with camera button and mode choices

Step 4: Take the picture

You can use flash if you need to. Line the image frame boundary up with the region of the field that you want to capture and then use the camera button (soft or your devices) to capture.

As you move the camera to focus, Lens will try to frame objects it detects. It is best to use the camera above the object lying on a flat surface. When you have the region you want in focus you capture your image.

If you don’t want to keep the image at this stage you can trash it immediately and capture it again.

Crop

There is a crop icon that will allow you to trim anything you don’t want from your image. Since the editing features are limited and not easy to use on a small device, you will benefit from having carefully selected the correct region before capture.

Filter

You can now apply a filter to your image to improve the image or to remove colour if you only need a monochrome image. Filters can be useful in adjusting contrast. You can preview and select filters by swiping left/right and then tapping to select.

A capture previewing the effect of different filters

Figure 4. A capture previewing the effect of different filters

Step 5: Save the capture

Depending on the type of image captured you now have different save options.

Save your capture as an image file to your OneDrive. Login to your OneDrive on your computer to access the file.

OR

Save to your device’s Gallery. To transfer the file to your computer, use your phone charging cable to connect your phone to your computer and follow the prompts. Find the images and save them onto your computer. Alternatively, you could choose to email the images to your self from your phone but depending on the size of the images, this may take a while. 

If the capture is of text, you can create a Word document, a PowerPoint document or a PDF on OneDrive, (but note, handwritten text will not always capture well). 

Previewing a capture with add more and save buttons.

Figure 5. Previewing a capture with add more and save buttons

Saving a capture to multiple targets including Word and OneDrive.

Figure 6. Saving a capture to multiple targets including Word and OneDrive

Step 6: Insert image(s) into a Word document

Use the Insert option to insert the images into a Word document. Office applications have an Insert tab with a pictures icon. Many other applications have means of reading an image file, but the method will vary by application.

Insert one image per page and resize if necessary.





 


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