Data entry is a painful chore. If only there was a way to automate the process of taking data from one location and adding it to a spreadsheet. Now there is, with the mobile version of Microsoft Excel.
You can now take a picture of a chart with the app (iOS, Android) and convert it into editable text.
First, sign into (or create) a Microsoft Account; otherwise you won’t be able to create new spreadsheets or edit any data.
Then, create a new workbook by tapping the icon in the upper-right corner of the app and selecting the kind of document you want to open.
If you’re looking to import data from a picture, you can snap a photo from the Excel app. Tap the Data from Picture icon on the bottom toolbar to open your camera. Focus on the chart you wish to enter into a spreadsheet, and you will see an orange rectangle appear as the app attempts to read the data. Snap the picture and it will be available for review.
After you take the photo, the app gives you a chance to look over the image and determine whether or not you want to continue working with it. Tap the checkmark on the screen to move to the next step, or tap the X button to try again. You can also crop and rotate the image from this screen.
From here you can edit the preview. Excel will show you the image captured next to its best approximation of the data in it. The app will flag the cells it feels may feature questionable results, which are highlighted in red. Tap Review to see each item individually and select Ignore to accept or Edit to make changes. You can also double-tap on a cell to edit. Tap Done to save any changes.
Once you have reviewed everything, tap the Insert button to add the chart to your spreadsheet. The app then lets you share the final product by emailing it as an attachment or sending a link.
While this process works with both images taken off paper and from a screen, I found that the former works much better than the latter. An image taken from a piece of paper just needs some grammatical cleanup, while a picture of a computer screen may need significant reformatting due to distortions.
Much like popular text translation apps, spelling and formatting can become a little wonky, but it sure beats trying to recreate a chart from scratch.