Import Data from a Picture Image
Microsoft recently announced the ability to import data from a picture in Excel for Windows … yay! Let’s say you have an image that contains text or numbers. Perhaps the image is a file (like PNG, GIF or JPG). Or, perhaps you copied it to the clipboard or took a picture with your phone. You’d like Excel to look at the image, extract any text or numbers, and then save these values to the worksheet. Well, now you can using the Data > From Picture command. It may not interpret all text and numbers perfectly, but it is certainly faster than manually typing 🙂
Before we get into the details, let’s just confirm out objective. We have an image that contains some text and numbers that we would like to get into Excel:
Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PHWC_Statement_of_Operation,_2021.jpg
Before this feature was available, we’d essentially need to type this data into Excel manually.
Now, we can import the data from the image, and after some light manual editing … bam:
So, with our objective clear, let’s get into the details.
Once we have the image, either in a file or on the clipboard, we can import the data from the picture into Excel data using these steps:
- Data > From Picture
Note: Per the Microsoft website, the Data from Picture feature is rolling out to Office Insiders running Beta Channel Version 2207 (Build 15402.20002) or later.
Let’s get to it!
Data > From Picture
First, we click Data > From Picture:
It will expand to reveal two options: Picture From File and Picture From Clipboard. Picture From Clipboard will be enabled if you have copied an image to the clipboard.
Select the appropriate option, and Excel will begin the import process. It will display a panel like this
Once complete, it is time to review the results.
In my experience, this feature does not capture all text and data perfectly. After all, we are asking a computer to look at an image, try to detect words and numbers, handle numerous font styles, sizes, colors, and layouts. It is impressive to me that it works as well as it does.
Since character recognition errors are expected, Microsoft built a handy Review process. It attempts to locate characters that it isn’t very confident about (ie, potential errors). And, it provides an easy way to review and correct such potential errors.
For example, let’s say it encounters a number it isn’t sure about. It will highlight that number in the image and also display what it thinks that number is:
You can then accept it as is or correct it and move to the next potential error.
If it isn’t sure about a specific character, it will identify that as well:
After the review process is complete, you can click Insert Data to load the values into your worksheet.
After you Insert Data, you’ll likely need to perform some editing especially as it relates to cell positions, cell formatting, new lines, extra columns, and overall layout.
Here is the raw import:
It didn’t take much time to correct new lines, remove excess columns, perform some light editing, and update cell formats:
And I’m sure it would have taken far longer to key all of this in manually 🙂
If your version of Excel includes this feature, here is the sample image file in case you’d like to give it a try:
Here is additional information on the Microsoft blog:
Disclosures and Notes
- This is a sponsored post for The CFO Project. All opinions are my own. The CFO Project is not affiliated with nor endorses any other products or services mentioned.
- 100% of sponsor proceeds fund the Excel University scholarship and financial aid programs … thank you!
- If you’d like information on becoming a sponsor, please check out our sponsorship opportunities page.
Excel is not what it used to be.
You need the Excel Proficiency Roadmap now. Includes 6 steps for a successful journey, 3 things to avoid, and weekly Excel tips.
Want to learn Excel?
Access all Undergrad and Masters lessons with a Campus Pass or CPE Pass. Includes on-demand training plus live office hours.