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Transform a photo of data into an Excel spreadsheet with your phone



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Excel inserts data from picture in action.


Angela Lang / CNET

Get off the keyboard and pick up your phone. A Microsoft Tool for Android Phones and iPhones ($ 1

,000 on Amazon) Converts words and numbers on a sheet of paper into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet in seconds. The Insert Data from Image Excel tool lets you take a photo of data in rows and columns on a sheet of paper. The Excel app for iOS and Android automatically converts the image into editable spreadsheet data.

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The spreadsheet conversion tool sends the image to Excel's online image recognition engine to process the words and numbers and convert it to a spreadsheet. And it can convert almost two dozen languages. During the import, Excel allows you to fix any issues before they are converted.

Excel for Android and iPhone is part of the Microsoft Collection of Office Apps for mobile devices that include Word and PowerPoint. The free versions of mobile productivity apps provide basic editing tools. With a Microsoft Office subscription, you can unlock additional features, such as: For example, the opportunity to work with colleagues.

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An Excel spreadsheet converted from a printed page.


Screenshot of Clifford / CNET

How to Convert Mobile Phone Photos to Excel Spreadsheet Data:

1. Tap the New button in the Excel app at the top of the app to create a new file. You can create a blank workbook or use one of the templates provided with the app.

2. At the bottom of the app, tap the Data from image button (this is the 3×3 grid with a camera). If you are using the tool for the first time, tap Allow to grant Microsoft permission to convert the image to data using the Microsoft Online Service.

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Correct a printed fantasy football cheatsheet before creating an Excel spreadsheet


Screenshot by Clifford Colby / CNET

. 3 Position the red rectangle around the data you want to capture, and then tap the round Capture button. The app is a bit fussy in terms of function and non-identification as data, so you may need a few tries to capture what you want.

4. When you're satisfied with the shot image, tap the red check mark to convert the data. If not, tap the X and start again.

5. In a preview of the captured data, tap a cell highlighted in red, and then tap Edit to enter missing information. Touch Done after each change. You can also tap unmarked cells to make corrections or changes.

6. When you are satisfied with the data, tap Insert at the top to paste the data into your workbook.

The collected and converted data can be numbers and words and contain lists and recipe ingredients. And while the app was amazingly accurate at converting data from a piece of paper, we were also able to capture data from a laptop screen. However, there were problems with our handwritten data.

The Insert Data from Image tool for Android and iOS can be run in 21 languages, including French, German, and Spanish. Microsoft said.

Sending spreadsheet data to Microsoft for processing may raise privacy concerns. "The protection and security of Microsoft's customer data is paramount to the business," said a Microsoft spokesperson. "Intelligence features in Office apps strictly adhere to the privileges granted to a user and do not share information with people who have not been granted access."

Originally published on May 23rd. Update, June 3, at 7:34 am PT : More details added.

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