Microsoft Office Lens Comes To The Desktop

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The mobile scanning app is now available on Windows 10 desktops, tablets and HoloLens

Microsoft has released versions of its Office Lens mobile application for desktops, tablets and HoloLens headsets running Windows 10.

The app, initially released on Windows Phone in 2014 and later on for iOS and Android devices, allows users to turn photographs containing text into editable documents.

Photo conversion


Users can take a photo of items such as a whiteboard, a business card or a restaurant menu from any angle, and the app automatically trims and enhances the pictures and makes them readable. It can save an image as a Word or OneNote file, PowerPoint presentation or PDF.

Images such as till receipts can be converted into searchable PDF files, meaning the user doesn’t have to take the paper receipt with them after purchasing an item or eating at a restaurant.

Text contained in the document is automatically made machine-readable using optical character recognition.

Photo-to-text conversion

The desktop version applies the same features to content such as scanned documents or screenshots, Microsoft said.

Office Lens has now also been better integrated with Office 365, Microsoft’s suite of cloud-based productivity and collaboration tools.

That means users can save Office Lens images to Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage system, making the text they contain searchable from Windows PCs, according to Microsoft.

The new version uses Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform (UWP) format, which was introduced with Windows 10 and is intended to provide an architecture that works across Windows desktop and mobile devices.

Last year Microsoft announced “bridge” tools intended to encourage developers to convert their millions of existing Windows desktop programs to UWP, and earlier this week the company said the first handful of such programs had appeared on the Windows Store.

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