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How to use Microsoft OneNote to organize your receipts

The next Brain Candy productivity tip video has made its way onto the Microsoft Lumia channel, and this one is timely. With tax season upon us, I'm sure many of you (like me) are thinking about how you can easily keep more organized throughout the year so when it comes time to pay Uncle Sam you're not sifting through a shoe box full of crumpled receipts. The tip shown here is for Microsoft OneNote to be a potential solution. Within the native OneNote app, you can simply create a new note, take a photo of the receipt and even add additional information, such as an audionote for added context. It's a straight forward tip, that likely a lot of smartphone consumers out there are not necessarily aware of. Be sure to watch the video and share it, and we'll bring you the next Brain Candy video when it hits.

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Source: Youtube, CrowdCentric

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

103 Comments
  • I use OneNote for receipts and such, very handy! Hope more people may be aware of this. Good tip!
  • I do not use onenote or any other similar personal i formation gathering tool MS is hoping we will use. The "cloud" is good for 2 things only. Music and video streaming. Otherwise get your snooping out of my personal life..
  • please do NOT confuse Microsoft with Google. everything you just said and a lot more is all done by Google which is an advertising company. 
  • Why did Microsoft lock down my onedrive account than for "alleged problematic material" for no reasons.. yes. because they dont analyse the data right.
  • Dude, MS doesn't give a f*** about your receipts, and even if they do, all it would be for is to compile data about what consumers are buying. They aren't attaching it to some secret profile of you to keep track of everything you do, they don't care. Get your head out of those tinfoil clouds.
  • how about you grow up and watch the news ..
  • Next you'll be on about chemtrails and vaccines causing autism...
  • Haha right, like you do? Give me some links to evidence than Microsoft is looking at our onedrive pictures. No? Oh maybe theres some evidence that the gov is looking at them... What? No evidence of that either? Wow They must be covering it up by pretending they don't care!
  • If you are that worried about your privacy, you wouldnt even be using the Internet.  
  • Really awesome tip!
  • I would use OfficeLens and "document scan" for this. It auto crops to just leave the receipt (not the table in the picture) and it also makes perspective adjustments and performs magickery like dials up the contrast and emphasises text. And you can save it straight into OneNote. 
  • Even better tip.  Thanks hwangeruk.
  • Tax season is done and gone. Hope you filed an extension because you are late! LOL
  • Although, I up voted you because of extension comment.
    WP is used in more countries then US ;)
  • Not in Canada. We got till May 5th.
  • In Germany until May 31st. And if you're not a business owner and don't have any additional income besides your normal labor wage, you even don't have to do it all, if you don't want. Because your employer normally already deducts your tax from your monthly paycheck automatically.
  • Aussies had until October 31 2014 to file for last year (Financial year ends June 30 2014)
  • or use Office Lens.
  • Seconded. Office Lens can import your scan directly into a new quick note in OneNote.
  • Yep, as a *.pdf even.
  • Yup.  Office Lens is the best.  Take a picture, done!
  • I agree. Office Lens is probably the best way to import receipts (and other docs) into OneNote, since it actually adjusts a document to make it easier to read.
  • yup i prefer Office Lens too, work better and the pic make the documents more readable !!
  • Office Lens is the way to do it. Especially with OneNote integration.
  • Agreed. OfficeLens.
  • I've been doing this for a while now. The ONE issue is that I've found on my phone is that if the reciept is really long, when I go back into OneNote on my phone it can't display the image (some error code). Open the same page in OneNote on a PC, or from the web version, no problem. Just on the phone.
  • Office Lens needs to be made available for Windows - not just WP. I use OneNote all the time on my W8 tablet, but it's a PITA not having Office Lens.
  • where is this damn app? its not available in the store
  • Not for W10
  • Have you tried store beta?
  • It come with WP installed.
  • Open your camera app and click the lens icon (looks like a little bubble).  Click the Find More Lenses link at the botton and Office Lens should appear in the list.  
  • Thanks for the tip....
  • Even easier, just pin the app to your start screen. 
  • Really dude?
  • I do this with my office 365 business account. Create a list and put info about the purchase and attach photo. I can export the list to excel and do waht i want with it. Starting this year for next year.
  • I use Office Lens in conjunction with OneNote to do this. Office Lens has a receipt function that will automatically crop the photos and then you can send them to OneNote.
  • I don't see a receipt function in Office Lens. Where do you see this? There is only Photo, Document or Whiteboard from what I can see.
  • Seriously, you didn't ask this question, lol
  • He did say specifically 'receipt function' which doesn't make sense. His question makes more sense than the guy calling it a 'receipt function'
  • I agree :)
  • Use the document feature.
  • Thanks for all the comments and in depth suggestions
  • It's even easier using Office Lens.
  • On the PC side, I just recently noticed a print driver for OneNote. So now, instead of printing to PDF or XPS, I just print to OneNote which, of course, is available on all my devices. Planning a vacay and all my hotel confirms are handy on my phone!
  • ABSOLUTELY! That's one of my MUST-HAVE features in OneNote. Forget printing. Save ink and paper. Go all digital.
  • Yeah I love this feature!
  • Office Lens makes this easier and is more flexible to me but hey, use whatever works for you! Good tip for those who didn't think of using their phone for this purpose before.
  • Great tip. Keep articles like this coming!!
  • I already do this, though I use office lens to capture the image
  • Actually, I have been using WP8 ROOMS to collect receipts.  Everyone in the group can take a picture, and with only two taps, share it straight to the shared gallery.  So multiple people can provide receipts to the same account.  And the automatic OneDrive OCR functionality lets me do text searches on the receipts.  Super easy to manage. Of course, Rooms are gone in windows like, like most of the things I loved about WP7/8.  Sigh.  Might be time to move on. 
  • I thought they were turning off Rooms but it still seems to be working (messaging as well). Perhaps they paid some attention to the User Voice outcry... there's 6000 votes on there now. Crossed fingers!
  • So funny countries that make every person pay their goods and services tax once a year individually instead of just building it into the price of everything
  • That's not how it works in the US. This is the annual Settle Up event, where you figure out if you did not pay enough/overpaid your income taxes. Sales taxes are paid at the time of purchase.
  • Ok, but why the hell do you need receipts for that? And figuring out whether you paid too much/little taxes is the tax ministry's job.
  • For some people, it lets them squeeze a bit more money out of their tax return. The way taxes work over here, we actually get some of them back each year to use as we will. Complain all you want, but it also means a lot of goods wind up cheaper over here. We might pay sales tax but it still turns out to not to be as high as countries that have VAT. On the flip-side, our healthcare is atrocious.
  • You need reciepts for itemized deductions (Item costs that can be removed from your overall income tax calculations)
    E.g. Textbooks for school, daycare for your child or, if you're more nefarious, calling drinks at a bar a business expense because you doodled on the napkin.
    If the IRS wants proof you better have proof.
  • @Xavier2508 Have you never claimed a tax deduction? e.g. If you had to buy equipment or a uniform for your work then you can offset it against the tax you pay... so you will get a tax refund, or pay less tax overall
  • Well, no actually. As a student, I don't make enough to reach the taxable minimum here in Belgium, so my tax file ends in a big fat zero. And unfortunately, I'm not allowed to deduct something from nothing... It's perhaps a difference in terminology or a bit of 'lost in translation', but I'm basically getting the impression that Americans have more little things they can deduct than we do. So while you can apparently deduct textbooks I simply get a student reduction of 17% when buying them for instance.
  • I'm not American, but I'm sure it works the same way as it does here in Australia. For normal employment, tax is automatically taken out of your salary based on the calculated weekly earnings. It's possible to get overtaxed, if you suddenly work a lot of hours (overtime or whatever). Let's say you earnt $500 in one day (16 hour shift to cover another worker which I've had to do before) then you can get taxed as if you will earn $500 every day... so 5 days / week * 52 weeks = $130,000 so you'll get slapped with 30-40% tax here. But let's say at the end of the year it was actually only $18,000 then any tax paid will be refunded to you. If the total earned was a bit higher, and therefore taxable, then you might be able to claim some work-related expenses to reduce the amount of tax paid.
  • Categorizing your receipts in a finance software, such as Quicken, helps you track your expenses and make an effective household budget. When the economy fell and my company went to a furlough schedule we all lost 10% of our income. I knew exactly where to cut back and how much.
    I use to carry all my receipts in my wallet for about a week before I would suit down and enter them. Now I just scan them and enter them later, side-by-side on the computer screen. No more looking down at the receipt, then up at the screen. Up and down. Up and down. No more. And no more bulky wallet.
  • Goods & Services Tax has nothing to do with Income Tax
  • Is IFTTT available for wp?
  • LOL
  • I like how WP7.5 had built in text recognition, and QR code scanning...
    ®®®®®®®®®®
    That was really useful.... Why doesn't MS put this functionality back, but via Cortana❓
  • Still there.... Some smartass decided to hide it under lenses in the camera app, four actions deep rather than two as before, guess it's one of the few advantages of not having Cortana yet... But yes, giving Cortana a Bing Vision button would make more sense than burying it under the camera app.
  • You're absolutely right... SMDH. They could at least let us pin it to our start screen, and the action center.
  • We lost the translation and book recognition though. Loved those features.
  • Yeah, that's what I'm talking about... You can't have Bing vision look at a receipt, and bring the text out of it, anymore❓
  • I save them as PDF files :)
  • You probably don't get text recognized, while it is recognized in OneNote. ​
  • Good tip. I wasn't aware of this. Is this the same way as scanning a digital copy of your receipts to your computer? I wanna be able to save copies of my receipts on OneDrive.
  • Basically, just use office lens... You can PDF the document and save it to OneNote/OneDrive. I use it a lot.
  • Office lens to OneNote is better.
  • If only there was a better/more elegant solution to scan documents and receipts... cough-office lens-cough!!
  • There also Cam Scanner with it's plugin InNote, does all Office lens and more (digital annotations, OCR). Very very good, also can share the images/pdfs to OneDrive & OneNote.
  • Also works offline where officelens fails to do(save as pdf,ocr)
  • Capturing an image of the receipt is only one small step in the process of gathering data for taxes. The receipts must be summed by tax categories. If somehow OneNote could sun the receipts by categories (not necessary by official tax categories), I'd b be more than n satisfied using OneNote for this purpose. I often use Office lens to capture indies of receipts a and convert to pdf do that I can import into a tool that can read the receipt and generate reports by categories.
  • Check Handyscan app: you can create multiple "cloud folders" (each per category) and quickly select any folder to upload the captured docs.
  • Office Lens saves straight to OneNote. Its amazing
  • No it sends to cloud(OneDrive) which is showed in your onenote
  • I've been wondering for a while now why Office Lens is not in the Windows Store. Ok it's not much use for desktops or laptops but would be great for tablets.
  • No kidding...ever since Office Lens came out there has been zero talk about getting in on W8 (Surface, Encore Write, etc.). I use my tablet a lot and would really like to have Office Lens on it.
  • Do it like a pro with Handyscan, it can export to OneNote even multiple pages...
  • OfficeLens does multiple pages too.
  • The camera on my 635 is too useless for this.
    I can't get a sharp photo in much less than an atomic bomb detonation lighting the subject. Even then it will be out of focus because it takes a fortnight for it to adjust to the lighting. Would rather scrawl each reciept in my flesh with a shard of glass over dealing with my 635's camera.
  • Time to upgrade to a 640?
  • Does anyone have a clue as to why my MSN Fitness & Health app which has worked perfectly for about 50 days suddenly today keeps giving me an error note.
  • @The_Duck http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows8_1-winapps/gett...
  • Am sure gonna put that idea to use
  • Might have to start doing this. I really only use OneNote to keep up with recipes.
  • For busy execs - share your notebook with your administrative assistant to handle expense reports
  • Maybe I'm not doing things right or haven't hit that tax bracket yet (I'm thinking the latter lol), but I throw all receipts (some I keep actually), but I guess because I have never owed money I don't get to caught up in keeping receipts for stuff that isn't eligible to be written off. I'm also the guy who does his taxes way late because of that reason. Still a very good idea.
  • You'd be surprised how much you can claim... even when I was a poor student with a part-time job I would claim between $300-500 / year. It's not a huge amount, but better than nothing!
  • Outdated. Needs update.
  • Needs OCR.
  • That would be useful, but the tax department need to see the original receipt
  • Honestly, I wish Microsoft would revive MSMoney. I'm getting tired of Quicken and would like a full version and travel phone app combo.
  • Onenote for wp10 when???
  • I did a documentation once using one note the photos became so heavy that even waiting for hours i coulldnt sync it to my laptop or email or send it to onedrive too tedious . 
  • Is there a way to add to OneNote if you receive electronic receipts via email?
  • I saw the OneNote update comments on my wife's iPhone.  "Excited about the Apple Watch? So are we!"  Really makes me want to jump to iPhone.  I know W10 will be so awesome and developers will never be able to resist making apps for it sarcasm, sarcasm blah blah blah.
  • Another way with Office Lens we can snap & push it to OneNote !!