Copying Text from an Image Using OneNote

imageI’ve never really seen any use for OneNote. I know lots of people who absolutely love it, and I’ve tried to “get” it, but I just don’t. That’s one of the things that makes life interesting: something which is indispensible for one person just isn’t for another.

Today I may have found something which will make me use OneNote, at least from time to time. It’s a little feature that may not even be used by all of those OneNote zealots all that often, but it’s really useful.

I had a screenshot from a client’s computer which showed a message they were getting:


I needed to try to track down why this message was popping up and what it meant. Usually, I’d just type the message into Bing to do some searching, which is exactly what I did. I didn’t find anything that was really all that useful, so I decided to post a question on SharePoint Overflow about it.

Since I wanted to ask a clear question, one which would not only get me a good answer, but also be useful to others down the road – asking good *questions* is often what gets you good *answers* (see my post Getting Good Answers to Your SharePoint Questions) – I wanted to provide the full text of the message.

imageWell, obviously I could have done what I usually do: simply retype the message in full. But something nagged at me this time. Surely SnagIt would help me with this? If you don’t know SnagIt, there’s a tool *I* find indispensible. Take a look at it if you haven’t seen it before.

It turns out that SnagIt doesn’t do any sort of OCR. After a little Binging, I found a video from TechSmith which explains how to hook up SnagIt with Microsoft Office Document Imaging (MODI). Perfect! Oh, no it wasn’t. Apparently, Microsoft removed MODI from Office 2010. Dang it. If you have Office 2003 or 2007, though, watch the video and you may be all set.

Back to Bing. I finally found a Microsoft support article which had what I needed:

Optical character recognition

MODI also enables you to perform optical character recognition (OCR). By performing OCR, you can then copy text from a scanned image or from a fax into another location. To implement the functionality of this feature, use Microsoft OneNote 2010. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. In OneNote 2010, on the Insert tab, click Picture.
  2. Locate and then open the scanned file. The file is inserted into OneNote 2010 as a picture.
  3. Right-click the picture, click Copy Text from Picture, and then paste the information to another location.

imageVery cool! A real use for OneNote! But that wasn’t really the point. The point wa that I was able to insert my image into OneNote and get the text from the message so that I could post it to SharePoint Overflow. I still don’t quite know exactly what issue my client is having (if you have any input, please post to the thread), but at least I learned a little trick which is going to save me time over and over again. I used it twice today already!

<UPDATE dateTime=”2011-05-13 07:33″>
Dan Antion (@DAntion) was kind enough to point out politely that you can also insert a screen clipping directly into OneNote, a fact that I missed.