Office Lens review

Joshua Rotter

Office Lens captures and enhances business cards, receipts, sticky notes, whiteboards, and more.

Pros

Dynamic intro: Launch Office Lens and you'll see a dynamic description of what this app can do for you, from scanning to editing docs in Word and whiteboards in PowerPoint. Then the app will ask you to allow access to your camera so it can take photos.

Minimal interface: Office Lens' drop-down menu button includes Camera, Import (which requires access to your photos), Recent Uploads, Settings, and Send Feedback, in case you wish to share your improvement ideas with Microsoft.

Easy functionality: Shoot and frame your picture in Photo (default), Document, or Whiteboard mode. You can also switch modes after the photo is taken. Whiteboard mode crops and removes glare and shadows, while Document mode crops and color-corrects your image. If you take your picture at an angle, but would prefer to see it head on, the app flattens it for you in Document or Whiteboard mode. If you dislike the photo's framing, crop it manually and, when you're satisfied, click Done to export.

Optical character recognition: Supported by OCR technology, Office Lens automatically recognizes text, which enables you to later search for specific scans and edit them.

Plenty of saving and sharing options: Save images on OneNote or OneDrive; convert them to Word, PowerPoint, or a PDF for further manipulation; or share them over email or to your Photo Library.

Cons

Microsoft account required: To take full advantage of Office Lens' many saving and sharing options -- anything other than saving to Photos or emailing your pictures -- you must first set up a Microsoft account and download free-to-use OneNote and OneDrive. Word and PowerPoint are also advisable for more sophisticated editing and document creation. But a costly Office 365 account is required to edit in those apps.

No multipage documents: Office Lens won't capture multipage documents.

Navigation issue: To share feedback with Microsoft, you are taken out of the app, without the ability to easily return to it when you're done.

Bottom Line

Office Lens is an easy-to-use, feature-rich, and highly useful pocket scanner. But you need to create a Microsoft account; download OneNote, OneDrive, Word, and PowerPoint; and subscribe to pricey Office 365 to get the most benefit from it.

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