How to Do OneNote OCR on Image or PDF(Mac, Windows, iPad)

2018-08-28 21:27:19 / Posted by Connie Wisley to PDF Follow @ Connie

Microsoft OneNote is a free cross-platform office program to take and organize notes, allowing users to input text, create tables, even insert pictures, so that the notes can be shared with other authorized OneNote users. 

An impressive feature of OneNote is its built-in capability to do OneNote OCR. Here we are going to introduce OneNote OCR, demonstrate how to OCR image or PDF with OneNote, together with the solution if OneNote OCR not working, no matter you are using OneNote on Mac, Windows PC or iPad.

About OneNote OCR

Before going to detailed steps of doing OneNote OCR, the basic knowledge about OneNote OCR will be necessary.

What is OneNote OCR?

OCR, the full name is Optical Character Recognition, it means electronically turn typed, handwritten or printed text into machine-encoded text. Or put it simple, it means recognize the text from non-editable/non-writable/non-searchable files. Microsoft OneNote OCR refers to the OCR feature Microsoft added to OneNote, enabling users to recognize text from pictures, captures and PDF printouts. You just need to select the picture or a page, copy the text, then paste to OneNote or other text processor tool.

Is OneNote OCR Available on All Platforms?

As we know, OneNote is available on all platforms, including MacOS, Windows, iOS Android, even online free. Though many users choose to utilize online OneNote, online OneNote doesn’t support OCR. If you want to utilize OneNote OCR, go to its desktop or mobile versions.

onenote online


How to Do OneNote OCR on Image or PDF (Mac and Windows)?

To perform OneNote OCR on an image or PDF, the steps on a Mac are quite similar to that on a Windows PC. And here we take OneNote for Mac as the example to demonstrate how to do OneNote OCR PDF or images.

OneNote OCR Image

  1. Run Microsoft OneNote for Mac.
  2. Go to Insert>Picture, choose an image to import to onenote ocr on mac
  3. Perform OneNote OCR by right clicking on the picture and choose “Copy Text from Picture”.onenote ocr on mac 03
  4. Press “Command+V” to paste the image text to OneNote or other text processors, then edit as needed.


  1. Run OneNote.
  2. Go to Insert>PDF Printout, import the PDF file to OneNote.
  3. Right click on the PDF file, choose to copy from this page or all the pages, also you can choose a paste option according to your needs.onenote ocr pdf
  4. Paste the text to OneNote or other text processors.


How to Do OneNote OCR on iPad?

For the reason that OneNote for iPad allows users to upload pictures directly taken by the iPad camera, many users prefer to do OneNote OCR on iPad, and following are the steps:

  1. Launch OneNote for iPad on your iPad.
  2. Tap Insert>Pictures (Camera/ PDF Printout), find the image or PDF you want to perform OneNote OCR.onenote ocr 01
  3. Tap on the image, choose “Copy Text”.onenote ipad 02
  4. Paste the text to OneNote or other text app for further editing.


What if OneNote OCR Not Working?

Admittedly, OneNote is great for people who have to deal with papers on regular basis, however, the OneNote OCR is not working properly all the time. Following are 3 most-frequently asked questions about OneNote OCR:

  • OneNote OCR for Mac.
    I am a Mac user (MacOS 10.13), I tried to download the program in Mac App Store, the package size is about 430MB and it took some time for me to install this program. And the biggest problem is, I have no way to run this program, though I have tried many times, nothing runs except the error reports.onenote mac errorI tried to find solutions for this problem, and noticed I am not alone, most of users are recommended to reboot or remove specific folder (~/Library/Containers/, but neither work for me, so I gave up on OneNote for Mac, and turn to my Windows PC. Of course, you can try the best alternative to OneNote OCR Mac---PDF Converter OCR.
  • OneNote OCR Not Allow Copy Text.
    Sometimes, OneNote doesn't allow to copy text from the picture or PDF, in this case, you need to re-insert the image. 
  • OneNote OCR Errors.
    Case 1: OneNote OCR is not recognizing text from image-based files accurately. In this case, first make sure the imported file is clear and clean, straight and flat, then recheck the OCR results and manually adjust if errors repeat.
    Case 2: OneNote OCR Formatting. Choose the an adequate paste option before pasting the text

Admittedly, these fixes are feasible sometimes, but sometimes, you cannot fix the problem of “OneNote OCR Not Working”.  And I guess that why many users are looking for OneNote OCR alternatives to shoot these troubles once for all. To fix those OneNote OCR problems, you will need the help of a professional OCR software for Mac or Windows.

OneNote OCR Alternative Mac---Cisdem PDF Converter OCR

Cisdem PDF OCR Converter, is a dedicated mac ocr converter to convert native and scanned PDF, even images to about 16 formats, including but not limited to Word, Excel, ePub, Text, PPTX, HTML… with original file quality retained. It supports batch OCR and approx. 200 languages.

What's more, this mac program enables users to create PDF files from other documents, such as Microsoft Office, HTML, CHM, ePub, Image, etc. Also, you are allowed to customize the PDF files, such as adding security, adjust size and quality easily.

Free Download

  1. Import PDFs or the image files you exported as PDF to Cisdem.
    Go to the interface "Converter", drag or drop PDF files into the program, or click “+” to add PDF files for onenote ocr cisdem 01
  2. Prepare for OCR.
    Turn the OCR button on, select language and page range. Choose the output format before onenote ocr cisdem 02For more accurate OCR results, you can click the "Settings" icon beside the language menu. A new interface will appear, with each part of the OCR applied zone marked as Texts, Images or Tables in different colorful boxes. You can check if all the contents are marked correctly, if not, manually adjust. For example, if you want a part recognized as Table, remove the defaulted mark box, click on "Mark Tables" under OCR Applied Zone toolbars, then drag a mark box to select the contents you want to recognize as Tables. You can resize the mark box by dragging the borders of the box.mark ocr
  3. Process OCR with OneNote OCR Alternative.
    Click “Convert” to make selected PDF files to be editable. 
  4. Copy text from image-based files.
    Open the OCR-ed file and copy, or edit as you want to.

OneNote OCR Alternative Windows---Readiris 16 for Windows

As a leading OCR software developer to offer OCR solutions, Readiris enjoys a large popularity among OCR users, for the reason of accurate OCR results and extended features to convert PDFs.

  1. Open PDFs or images with Readiris.onenote ocr alternative windows 01
  2. Once the file is imported, choose the output as Word, or other supported formats to start the OCR automatically.onenote ocr alternative windows 02
  3. Open the OCR-ed file in output folder and copy or edit the text as you want to.


We do hope Microsoft OneNote will contribute further efforts to shoot the existing OneNote OCR problems, since it indeed brings us good and free service to manage notes. But before solutions are offered, we can try these above-mentioned OneNote OCR alternatives for our convenience.

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