When you’re faced with a long boring list of data, or a document filled with a mind-numbing amount of facts and figures, one of the best ways to make this information easily digestible is to create a table or spreadsheet. Although incredibly useful, identifying and transferring all of this data can be a bit of a task. I have long dreamt of an app that could scan a document, identify the key bits of information and then automatically create a relevant spreadsheet or table. Unfortunately, that app doesn’t yet exist, but a new app called Image to Excel Converter does have the potential to save you loads of time if your work or research requires you to work with hard copy spreadsheets, or protected PDFs.
OCR with a cool trick up its sleeve
Image to Excel Converter, is essentially an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) app with a cool trick up its sleeve. Rather than just capturing the text and characters in photos, images or screen grabs, and turning them into editable text you can use in a word processor. Image to Excel Converter can take the text within the image of a spreadsheet, and the spreadsheet itself, and create a functioning Microsoft Excel file. This could be hugely useful if you need to re-use tables found within handouts, infographics, books or inaccessible PDFs.
How it works
To convert an image to Excel simply open the app on your phone, take a picture or screen grab of the table you want to convert and watch as Image to Excel Converter creates an excel file. You can then view the file within the app or share it with yourself or others in the usual ways.
The basic version of Image to Excel Converter is free to download and there is an in-app purchase of £9.99 which buys you speedier functionality.
I tried out both the free and paid-for versions of the app with various sizes of tables to see how it handled increasingly complicated tables.
The first was a simple 3X3 grid which it got pretty much spot on. There was just one error where for some reason a comma had been added after the number 170.
Next, I tried a slightly more complicated 5X5 grid.
This time all of the information had been converted correctly, but the data had been shifted across one column. So, the Math column had no data and there was a column to the right of the table which had no heading. There was also an extra row between Tom and Dean.
Finally, I decided to go ‘wild’ and rustle up an 8 X 10 table!
Once again, the app had captured and converted all of the data correctly, all the numerals were correctly positioned but the positioning of the text left a lot to be desired. In some places text from different rows had been merged into single cells, and information from different columns had been split into adjacent cells.
This was not ideal as I then needed to go through and make amendments. Overall, even with the time needed to make amendments, I would say using the app was a much quicker way of creating a perfect editable copy of my excel spreadsheets than doing it manually.
I tried both the paid-for and free versions of the app and they both performed to a similar standard and had pretty much the same functionality. So, what’s the point of shelling out £9.99? Well here’s the rub, the free version takes over an hour to convert your images into editable files, which for many in toady’s fast paced world just won’t cut it. With the upgrade, thankfully conversions took just a matter of seconds.
In a world where you are most likely to receive spreadsheets as digital files, this may not be an app for the masses. But if you find yourself in a situation, where you regularly manually recreate hard copies of spreadsheets or tables, this could be a major time saver.
Have you tried this app? Let us know your experience in the comments below.
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