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Grow Your Business Technology

Office Lens App Helps You Go Paperless

Office Lens App Helps You Go Paperless
You can "scan" just about anything using Office Lens. / Credit: Microsoft

One of the best reasons to buy a Windows Phone is the platform's tight integration with Microsoft Office. Now, Office Lens— a new app from Microsoft — makes it a bit easier to scan and save receipts, notes and other documents into your Office cloud account using your smartphone. Photos you snap with the app are automatically synced with OneNote, a note-taking app that's part of Microsoft Office.

You can "scan" just about anything using Office Lens — receipts, business cards and notes on paper or a whiteboard are a few examples. The app automatically flattens and straightens out photos that are taken at odd angles, and cleans up stray shadows to make your notes more readable. Once an image has been indexed in OneNote, Office Lens' character-recognition functionality can help you find it by searching for words within the image. You can even copy and paste text from an image and paste it into other apps, including email and documents. All notes are automatically synced with OneDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage platform, so they're accessible from any Internet-connected device.

Apps like Office Lens are valuable for small business owners because they can help you go paperless. That not only helps you save on printing costs, but also eliminates the need to sort through stacks of paper to find the document or receipt you're looking for. Having all your receipts and expense reports in a single computerized repository could really come in handy during tax season.

If you don't already use OneNote, you can download a free version of the application for PC or Mac. The free version, also released this week, doesn't include some features found in the paid version, such as SharePoint support, version history and Outlook email integration.

Brett Nuckles

A former Ohio newspaper man, Brett Nuckles fled the Midwest in 2013. He now lives in Seattle, where he spends his days tinkering with smartphones, tablets and computers. He loves to think about the intersection of technology and productivity, and how to get the most out of new gadgets and apps. He's also a big fan of vegetarian food and digital painting. In his off hours he spends most of his time drawing and painting sci-fi/fantasy scenes on his PC with his trusty Wacom stylus in hand.