How To Use SkyDrive OCR


The SkyDrive OCR feature extracts text from photographs and it does work like magic.

Microsoft introduced Optical Character Recognition or OCR of JPG files posted to SkyDrive with Windows 8.1.

SkyDrive is the cloud file storage system that is embedded in Window 8.1, RT and Windows Phone 8.

Using SkyDrive OCR takes two simple steps.

SkyDrive Camera Roll


1. Store photos you want to scan  in //SkyDrive/Pictures/Camera Roll

The OCR process is almost instant the moment you drop the files there. In my test,  each picture had 700 words. It took me less than 1 minute to see the text.

2. Viewing the files in the in Windows 8.1

Browsing through the files brings up the OCR text under Extracted Text.  Click on the edit tool and it reveals all the text and allows it to be saved.

SkyDrive OCR of a photograph of a box label. Click for a larger image

You can scan books this way, with the warning that copyright laws apply. If you are writing a story or review of a book, small excerpts should be allowable under copyright law exclusions for Fair Use / Fair Play.  I scanned two pages from Once Upon a Time: The Lives of Bob Dylan. That saved me time when covering the book in Dylan’s Desolation Row Decoded.

I found the OCR of a book very accurate. Scanning labels on wine bottles and boxes is hit and miss but a great way to get serial numbers off products.

SkyDrive OCR extracted “STARBUCKS COFFEE” from a photograph of the sign (NJN photo – S. Pate) click for larger image

You can scan PDF files if you take a screen shot of them. It’s not the most elegant way to extract text from PDF files but it works.

The Extracted Text is stored in the file meta data which is only viewable (by mere mortals) on the site.

SkyDrive OCR is designed to scan pictures taken with a Windows Phone. You can trick the system by just copying jpg files into the sub-directory on your computer.  Once you’ve gotten the extracted text, you may want to move the files from time to time since that sub-directory syncs with your phone.

Bookmark on your browser toolbar if you use the feature regularly.


Cloud storage means you can get your files anywhere you are, not just while sitting at your computer. Even within your own home or office, SkyDrive is a handy way to get files from one computer to another. 7 GB of SkyDrive storage is free with each Windows 8 license.

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network

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