Transforming Images into Editable Excel Data
Have you ever found yourself wishing you could just snap a picture of some data, and magically have it inserted into an Excel spreadsheet? Maybe you've got an old grant budget that only lives in a three-ring binder, or perhaps you've stumbled across a fascinating table of data on a website that you'd love to analyze further. Well, guess what? Your life just became easier. The "Data from Picture" feature in Excel makes this possible. This feature, which is available on Windows, Web, MacOS, iOS, and Android versions of Excel, allows you to insert data from a screen capture on your clipboard or an image file from your device into an Excel spreadsheet.
How Does It Work?
The process is pretty simple. The first step is to capture your data from an image, and there are multiple methods you can use:
Use an existing picture file: Go to Excel and click on Data > From Picture > Picture From File. A couple of tips for this method: make sure the image only depicts the data you want to import. If necessary, crop the image. Also, avoid images that depict data from an angle - the perspective should be head-on and focused.
Take a screenshot: Snap a screenshot of the table, then go to Excel and click on Data > From Picture > Picture From Clipboard. A key tip for this method: make sure your screenshot only includes the data you want to import.
Take a pic with your phone: Snap a pic and e-mail it to yourself or use the mobile version of Excel and select Data > From Picture > Picture From File.
After selecting the picture, the "Data from Picture" dialog box will show Excel's progress as it analyzes the image for data. Once it's done, review the results, make any necessary data corrections, and then click "Insert Data". Voila! Your image data is now editable in Excel1.
The process might seem straightforward, but what happens if you have data in a foreign language? As of now, the "Data from Picture" feature only supports a limited number of character sets: English, Bosnian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. However, Microsoft continues to expand its capabilities, and more languages might be supported in the future1.
Import data from a sample image file: Right-click an image with table data, save it as a local copy, then follow the steps outlined above to convert the picture to data.
Screen capture a table from a website: If you've ever tried to copy and paste data from a website, you've likely noticed that the formatting often changes after you've pasted it. To get around this, capture a screen clipping of the table and then use the "Data from Picture" feature to import it into Excel.
Take a picture of some printed data: This is perfect for those old tax forms we mentioned earlier. Just take a picture of each one, transfer the pictures to your computer, and then use the "Data from Picture" feature to convert the picture to data.
So, next time you're faced with a table full of data you wish you could transfer to Excel with a snap, remember the "Data from Picture" feature. It's a powerful tool that can save you heaps of time and make your data analysis efforts even more productive.
Michelle Crim, CFRE
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