This review is part of the Smartphone Scanner Review series, where I compare the top-rated smartphone scanner apps for Android. Many of these apps also have Apple iPhone versions which may have slightly different operation or features.
Here’s a 60-second video demonstrating the most common use of the app. In this video, I scan two pages and attach them to an email as a PDF file.
Full Review Notes
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The app is free to download and use, and does not contain advertising. There is no “Pro” version of the app, this is the full version. It does nag you to leave a review online.
While capturing you have a few options:
- Flash on, off or auto
- Load document from your existing photo gallery
- Camera capture in a choice of four modes:
- Business card
Camera capture displays a live preview of the anticipated cropping using an orange outline. If the capture guesses wrong, you can re-crop the image while editing.
All the modes worked well in my tests. You can also select from a large number of camera resolutions. The higher resolutions will obviously increase the file size, but may be needed if you are capturing a large whiteboard in a lecture hall or other public setting.
After capture, you are directed to a document edit screen featuring options to:
- Add a new page
- Rotate the current page
- Re-crop the image
- Select a different mode (same choices as before, Business card, Document, Whiteboard, Photo)
Re-cropping is somewhat annoying because there is no zoomed preview when you are dragging from a corner or side. Your finger blocks your view, so it’s a little difficult to accurately re-crop the image. If you try to cheat by placing your finger a bit away from the corner selector, the upper-left corner moves regardless of which corner you are trying to edit.
Saving & Sharing
On the Save screen, you can rename the file and save to a local PDF, JPG, Microsoft OneNote, OneDrive, Word or PowerPoint.
Once you’ve saved a document, you are directed to a sharing screen with options to share to apps installed on your phone such as Twitter, Facebook, email, texting apps, etc. If you have cloud storage such as Google Drive or Dropbox, you’ll be able to share the document to those systems through this screen also.
The app is very streamlined, but this comes at a small price if you need to deviate from the normal workflow. If you want to share a previously created PDF, you are forced to capture a new one in order to reach the sharing screen. When you launch the app it takes you directly to the live capture screen, and you cannot leave and move to the sharing screen unless you capture a throwaway page. It’s a little weird, but it does save you a click most of the time.
Office Lens is a very streamlined, focused app. It’s fast and does one thing really well: capture physical documents and bring them into the Microsoft ecosystem. And, that’s all it was ever designed to do. As a general-purpose document scanner it’s missing a few features you might want, but it’s hard to argue with the ease of use and speed to capture documents quickly. It’s in my top three recommended apps.