Scanning Documents With Your iPhone

Instead of using a bulky flatbed scanner you can use your iPhone's camera for most document scanning today. Apps will allow you to quickly capture pages, straighten them and organize them. You can even do optical character recognition with some apps.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Scanning Documents With Your iPhone.

Hi, this is Gary with On today's episode let's look at scanning documents using your iPhone.

Every once in a while I still get asked about scanners. What's the best document scanner or how to document scans. The thing is for a lot of people they've already moved on away from the old traditional flatbed or paper feed scanners to using simply their iPhone for scanning.

The camera in your iPhone is actually excellent quality. It takes closeup images really well and really sharply. With the help of some apps you can actually scan much quicker and easier using your iPhone than you can with a flatbed scanner. Sometimes you can do things that aren't even possible like, for instance, carrying your scanner to the library at your college may not be a possibility but your iPhone is already with you.

So I've looked at a few apps. There are dozens of apps that do scanning. Here are a few that I like mostly because the first two here, Scanbot and CamScanner, both have OCR or optical character recognition. So let's go ahead and take a look at how they work.

Scanbot is pretty popular. There's the free app and then you do in app upgrades to add features like OCR. So I'm going to scan in a new document. Once I hit the plus button, when it finds a document in camera range it will automatically snap it. Which is great because it speeds things up or I can hit the snap button manually. It also means that you can take something kind of at a perspective and you can see how, like if I couldn't hover my phone directly over the image, it's going to grab it in perspective.

Normally I would end up with an image thats got kind of a trapezoidal look to it. But instead it's actually going to automatically correct it and adjust it so it looks like I took the picture flat. I'm going to hit Save and it's going to process this. You can see it says there Processing. It's going to go to 100%.

I can select the Title there and instead of having the date and time it's going to, I tap the title at the top, and it's going to come up with all these ideas for names including using location, using things that are nearby, and using things that it finds in the document itself. So it found the word invoice, for instance, and it figured that a good name for it. Now I've got that captured in there and I can continue to go to other documents.

I can also add pages to this current document. That's how most of the scanning software works.

So let's do it again. I'm going to do a receipt this time. You can see that it automatically took that picture and snapped it. It's pretty good quality. There are adjustments I can make to it. I can save it here. It will add it to my Library. I can organize it in a lot of different ways. Let's look at closer here. Tap on the Title there and it's going to give me some things. If I was actually at one of these places that it thinks are nearby I could easily have tapped that and then tap the word receipt without ever having to type I entered in the name. So it's really useful. I can go back and see that receipt that I added. I can also go back and see that invoice I did earlier in the day.

Notice I can select the text in it and copy it because it has actually scanned the text in and converted it using OCR. So that's really useful as well. So you can do all this stuff with most of the scanning apps. The ones that support OCR.

So let's go and take a look at another one now. Let's look at CamScanner. Another popular scanning app. This one has a free version that shows you how OCR works but you need the paid version to actually use OCR to get the text out. So I'm going to scan in the back of my last book here. It will take that. I'll hit the checkmark there. It will bring it in and I can hit the OCR button at the bottom and it will actually copy the text. You can see that it pastes it in there. I need the Premium version to go further with it. You see lots of options there. You can organize with this one as well.

Of course if you just want to take pictures of things and save them you don't need any apps for that. You can use the camera to do that as well. What these scanning apps bring to it is the ability to very easily add pages to a single document. To save them as pdf's and to also straighten out pages if you're not taking a perfect straight down shot.

Some other apps have scanning abilities in them. For instance the Dropbox app. If you're a Dropbox user you can add Scan and it will do the same thing as you've seen in some of these other apps here. So I can scan in the back of my book and it will add it. There's OCR available also for Dropbox users but the cost is being a business level user of Dropbox.

There's a ton of other ones. You can search in the App Store for scanners, for scanning, for OCR and come up with all sorts of useful apps whether you need to just quickly snap things like receipts and invoices or scan passages in books that you're doing research for in libraries and things like that. I once used one of these scanning apps, one call GeniusScan, to scan an entire family photo album that was available. I was quickly able to go through the pages and scan about fifty pages of a family photo album that I only had a few minutes of access to and I didn't have the ability to carefully scan each photo.

So check those out and try to think a little differently about scanning now using your iPhone.

Links to apps:

Comments: 6 Responses to “Scanning Documents With Your iPhone”

    Jerry Sundberg
    3 years ago

    For $3.99, Scanner Pro by Readdle allows you many of the features that are extra with ScanBot. I’ve been using this iphone scanner now for a long time and its capabilities actually exceed ScanBot’s. The images are sharper, takes color/black-white, auto snap, as well as OCR and a few other features. I definitely recommend this one above ScanBot. You pay less and have a superior scanner.

    Douglas Brace
    3 years ago

    I am looking forward to the iOS version of “CTRL F”, which was recently released for Android. It allows you to take a picture of a document, uses OCR to the picture to text, and then lets you search the text using a “find” command.

    Lars Kjeldsen
    3 years ago

    Can’t find ScanBot in Apple Appstore. What is the search word?

    Lars Kjeldsen
    3 years ago

    …. Which was because I was searching via my MacBook Air – offcause! I have now installed ScanBot om my iPhone.

    3 years ago

    What app do you recommend for scanning photos? I’d like to post them to a Facebook page, not store on a website that I don’t use.

    3 years ago

    Scanning photos? That’s tough. You are never going to get a very good resolution copy by taking a picture of a picture. Just use the Camera app if you really must — but only for “just for fun” social media postings, not for archival purposes.

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