Editable PDF and Whiteboard Notes with Office Lens

Post in News by TerryVannoy on 6th May 2020

EditablePDFOfficeLensHow do students and teachers capture document pages and whiteboard notes on their mobile devices? By taking a picture or scan of it, right? But once you get the picture of the notes and send it to yourself or someone else, can you edit it? Can you make changes or update it?

The typical process is to take a picture with your phone/iPad/tablet, then email the image to yourself. Then you insert that image into your presentation or lesson. However, if the notes you’ve captured need to be updated or are no longer relevant, do you have to recreate the notes from scratch? No, not with a great tool called Office Lens.

With Office Lens, users can capture an image but then place it in a Word document or PowerPoint presentation, and it will be editable! Lens uses an OCR capability (Optical Character Recognition) to read images and understand text so that it can be formatted into other applications. Once put in Word or PowerPoint, for example, we can update the content and use it for our current lessons. Think: do you have any paper documents, posters or PDFs that you reuse every year? Do you need to change the dates or times or the content every year or semester? Use Office Lens.

Here is how the process works

1. Download Lens to your mobile device:

2. Open the app and select the proper capture mode. On the right side edge, these are your choices:

  • Whiteboard: Captures whiteboard notes as an editable image
  • Document: Captures any document (even PDF) and is editable
  • Business Card: Captures a business card and can be saved into your Photo Library or as a Contact file in MS One Note.
  • Photo: Take a new picture or find one in your Photo Library. Export it and make it an editable document.

You can explore these choices on your own, but let’s look in depth at taking a PDF document and making it editable through Office Lens.

3. Choose Document and take the picture after giving it a few seconds to auto-focus.

4. Grab the four corner cropping tools to identify which part of this document you want to work with. Tap on “Done” in the bottom right corner.

5. If you want to scan another page and add it to this current document, use the “Add New” feature in the lower left. When finished, select the orange “Done” button in the lower right. Now you are ready to export your image.

6. There are lots of choices on this list, so keep in mind why you wanted to capture this image.

  • Just an image for your library? Choose Photo Library
  • Store in your “cloud”? Choose OneDrive
  • Make it an editable document; make changes? Choose Word, PowerPoint or OneNote
  • Share it with students so they can practice their reading? Choose Immersive Reader
  • Share it with other teachers? Choose PDF, Outlook or Mail

7. Let’s make it an editable document, so I’ll export it into Word. Note, this is Word in Office 365, the cloud version.

8. This document is now in your Files collection, and Lens gives you access to all of your stored files here. Tap on your new document (did you rename it?).

9. This is a .docx file and now uses the typical online Word toolbar, including text formatting, Inserting more content, Draw tools and more! Here is an image of me editing my new document, getting it ready for more current content.

10. Keep in mind that this Word document has an OCR version of your picture at the top, editable with Word tools, AND the imported image below. You can do a comparison of the text and picture versions, then delete the image part later. This is a nice feature that helps us make sure that everything was properly scanned.

Text Version:

Image Version:

11. To see your collection of scanned images and documents later, from the home screen of Office Lens, tap the “More” button and go to “My Files”.

Have fun with MS Office Lens! Share your other ideas with us, and be sure to check out the Teq Talk blog for other great tools and technologies to enhance leanring.


In light of the COVID-19 pandemic impacting our schools and learning, Teq is making all of our PD courses on OTIS for educators FREE to help schools and districts implement distance learning and online professional development.

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