Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR), OneNote for Mac can extract the text it recognizes in photos, screenshots, and scans so you can paste it elsewhere in your notes (or into another app). This offers a convenient way to capture useful and important information that you would otherwise have to manually retype (for example, text on a business card or on a printed purchase receipt).

Note:  The effectiveness of Optical Character Recognition depends on the quality of the picture you’ve captured and the legibility of the text in it. Text in photos should be sharp and clearly readable. Handwritten or highly stylized or script-like text will not work very well. After you’ve copied and pasted text from a picture, it’s a good idea to look it over to make sure that all of the text was recognized properly.

Do the following:

  1. Scan or snap a picture of the text you want to capture.

  2. Insert or paste the picture on any page in OneNote.

  3. Control-click the picture (or right-click with your mouse) and then click Copy Text from Picture.

    Tip: The OCR Text recognition process is a very complex one that uses Microsoft online services and therefore can take a few minutes for simple pictures and up to hours for complex ones before the Copy Text from Picture command is available when you Control-click the picture. Microsoft online services don’t store any of the contents of your files on its servers.

  4. In your notes (or in any other app), place the cursor where you want to paste the copied text, and then press Command-V.

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