Office Lens – A scanner and image corrector for your phone

Guest post by Matthew O'Brien, secondary school educator at Brisbane Boys' College

I think I may have been living under a rock, but at the E2 conference in Seattle in May I saw the Office Lens app demonstrated by one of the presenters. Simply, this is an app for iOS, Windows 8, or Android phones that turns your phone into a nifty document, screen and whiteboard scanner – with the smarts to both crop the extra “rubbish” out of the background, as well as correct the image for any angle the image is taken at, producing a rectangular, cropped image ready to insert into the document of your choice.


Once the app is started, the preview shows the screen or document that is detected with a white boarder, as well as greying out the rest of the screen. In the image above, I am using my work iOS phone to photograph my windows 8 machine screen. Notice I have “whiteboard” selected – that doesn’t matter, as I just corrected this after the photo was taken changing it to “document”.


Once taken, the image is automatically cropped and transformed. If somehow the detection is wrong, pressing the “crop” icon at the top right, allows you to choose the four corners of the document or screen in the original photo, and then the image will be reprocessed using these as the crop and transform points.


When you select “Done” the file is then exported to wherever you need – I typically save it straight to OneDrive, then it is available to insert wherever I need it.  This is the resulting cropped and transformed image. Quite slick!


It also has “whiteboard” mode – here is an original photo of a whiteboard:


And the cropped and transformed image – notice the whiteboard is “white” and the colours more vibrant. You can also see just how dirty the whiteboard is!


Finally a true document. The original photo:


And the resulting cropped and transformed image:


There is more good news – you don’t even have to take the photo in the app – you can import photos you have on your camera roll, and apply the process – this is great for any photos you take of PowerPoint slides at conferences.

So, if you too have been living under a rock, I encourage you to check out the Office Lens app for your smart phone – it really does help in digitising documents in your world, and lets face it, once they are digitised they are usable, searchable and digitally annotatable!

Windows phone –

iOS –

Android –

Comments (1)

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  1. Zach says:

    I think I have seen this app before. My brother had to use it for tax season to be able to submit a couple of his forms. I think it is great that we have apps like these because it saves time and you can literally use any photo scanner. I know that more printers and scanners are having the capability to connect with phones and allow printing or scanning to work for anything. That could save you a lot of time if you don't have a computer or scanner.–film-negative–slide-scanning.html

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