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How to Use OneNote OCR for Scanned PDF or Image? (The Detailed Guide)

We usually use OneNote from Microsoft to take text notes, but sometimes, our notes need to include a scanned PDF document or an image for the sake of information. While that is good for viewing, you may not be able to select or edit the text inside that image or scanned PDF. So, in this OneNote OCR guide, we will teach you how you can get text from those uneditable formats while staying within the OneNote application.

Part 1. Does OneNote Have OCR?

Yes, Microsoft has added the OCR feature to its OneNote application. Now, users can utilize this feature to extract text from images and scanned PDF documents within their notes. Moreover, this OCR technology supports extracting text from handwritten notes and currently supports 21 languages.

The process is extremely easy, but you may face content formatting and integrity issues while using this OCR. The good part is that you can use this feature on Windows and Mac PC platforms and iOS and Android smartphone platforms.

Part 2. How to Use OneNote to OCR PDF? (Scanned Documents)

You can use the OneNote application on your smartphone or PC to OCR your scanned PDF documents. The process goes by first adding the PDF documents in OneNote notebooks as printouts and then performing the OCR to copy text from those printouts. Below is a detailed guide on how OneNote can help you perform OCR on scanned documents.

1. Open the PDF as a printout in OneNote.

Open your OneNote application and open a Notebook in it. Now, you need to open PDF in OneNote, and for that, click "Insert" and "File Printout." It will take you to the browse window, where you need to select a PDF by clicking it and clicking "Open." Wait as the PDF Printout is processed and displayed in the OneNote notebook.

onenote ocr file printout

2. Right-click on the image and select the copy text option.

Once the PDF Printout displays, you need to right-click on it and select the option to copy text. In documents with multiple pages, you will get the following options:

  • "Copy text from this page of the printout."
  • "Copy text from all the pages of the printout."

You can select either one depending on the content that you want to copy.

onenote ocr copy text

3. Paste text from the PDF.

Now click anywhere else in the same document and press "Ctrl + V." It will paste all the copied text in editable text form. Similarly, you may paste it into any other file, document, or application for editing and reusing purposes.

onenote ocr paste text

Part 3. How to Use OneNote to OCR Image?

OneNote can be used with picture files in addition to scanned PDFs. You should be aware, nevertheless, that the performance here may be affected by the size and quality of the photographs. A thorough tutorial on how to utilize the OneNote OCR feature on your devices can be found below.

1. Open the image in OneNote.

After opening the notebook in the OneNote application, click "Insert" > "Pictures" > "From File" to get the browse window. Here, you need to locate the image with text in it and click "Open." The image will be instantly opened in the OneNote application.

onenote ocr picture open

2. Right-click on the image and select the copy text option.

You now need to right-click on the image, and this time, there will be only one option: "Copy text from the picture." Click this option, and all the text in this image will be copied to your device's clipboard.

onenote ocr copy text form the picture

3. Paste text from the image.

Again, click anywhere in the notebook and press "Ctrl + V" to paste the copied text. If you want to paste that text into another application or file, you can use the same command in that application, too.

onenote ocr paste text

Part 4. How to OCR PDF with OneNote Alternative – UPDF

While OneNote brings you the OCR feature, it is basically a note-taking application and not built for OCR purposes. So, the user experience is not that great here. Furthermore, it brings multiple problems during OCR conversion, like the scanned PDF file not being opened as a scanned PDF, content formatting issues when copying text, content integrity issues after pasting the text, and more.

UPDF brings the perfect solution to all these problems. It easily opens all types of PDF documents in its native PDF viewer for PC. The OCR processing is up to 99% accurate and does not impact the content for formatting. On top of everything, it supports multiple languages with the same accuracy.

UPDF brings many other features as compared to OneNote OCR features, and we have conducted a thorough comparison in the table below. If UPDF is found to offer better features in this comparison, you can download it on your PC and try the tool yourself.

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OCR Scanned PDFs
OCR Images
Convert Scanned Documents into Editable Formats
Languages Supported3821
Customize OCR Settings
Edit OCRED PDF and Images
Translate Scanned Documents

With this table, UPDF offers a better experience considering only its OCR capabilities. If we take into consideration the other PDF features that UPDF brings, OneNote will be of no competition to it. In fact, the process of performing OCR with UPDF is much simpler and quicker with the steps discussed below:

1. Open UPDF and open Scanned PDF in it

First, open the UPDF app on the PC by double-clicking the icon on the desktop. Secondly, you need to open the scanned document in UPDF by using the "Open File" option on top of the home page. As your scanned PDF opens, it will be displayed in the reader's view.

onenote ocr open file updf

2. Click OCR from the top right and click Perform OCR.

Move the cursor to the top right and click "OCR" > "Perform OCR," then follow through with the file-saving steps. Now, UPDF will automatically process the scanned documents and save the OCR file in the selected location. Moreover, this file will open in the UPDF app as well, where you can copy text, edit it, and convert the document into other editable file formats.

onenote ocr updf

The best part about using UPDF is that you don't need to worry about mistakes in content after performing OCR. The steps are simple: the original file stays untouched, and most importantly, you can convert it to other file formats for use in other apps and tools. Now, you can enjoy all these features along with many others by downloading UPDF for free. In free trial version, you can only experience the OCR features and cannot copy, edit, and convert the OCRED PDFs, you can unlock the premium UPDF Pro features by purchasing them.

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Part 5. FAQS About OneNote OCR

Q1. How to Use OCR in OneNote on Android?

Open the OneNote Android application and create a new note by clicking the "+ Notebook" button. Next, you need to tap "Insert" from the top and insert the image or PDF (as a printout) in OneNote. Now tap on the image, and from the options, select "Copy Text." You can now paste that copied text anywhere.

Q2. How to Use OCR in OneNote on iPad/iPhone?

Open the iOS OneNote application and open a new OneNote note by tapping the "+ Notebook" button. Here, you need to go to a page, tap "Insert" from the top, and select "Picture" to add an image or "PDF Printout" to add a scanned PDF. Once the media loads, tap on the image, tap "Copy Text," and wait as OneNote processes your text. Once processing finishes, you may paste the text in the same Note or another application.

Q3. How to Fix OCR OneNote Not Working?

Sometimes OneNote OCR feature may not work for you, and to fix it, you need to restart the OneNote application, reupload the image or scanned document to the OneNote application and try using the OCR feature again. However, if it still does not work, you need a reliable solution, and that is using UPDF OCR.

Final Thoughts

The OneNote OCR feature now allows you to extract text from images, handwritten notes and even scanned PDF documents. While it may get the job done, it is not the best in class if we consider the OCR feature. So, you must go for a better OCR tool, and UPDF is a strong contender here. With high accuracy, UPDF AI, and wide language support, UPDF can make your life much easier if you download it and use the OCR features along with its other PDF editing features.

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