MacMost Now 872: Using Your MacBook As a Scanner

You can come up with creative solutions using combinations of apps on your Mac. For instance, to scan documents with your MacBook's camera, you can use Photo Booth to take the pictures, and then Preview to flip them and convert them to a single PDF document. This could be a good alternative to using the copy machine while doing school research.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 872: Using Your MacBook As a Scanner.

Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let me show you how to use your Mac Book as a scanner.

Today's episode is really about how to be creative when using Apps to get them to do things they were not really meant to do.

Like for instance suppose you have your Mac Book and you are at a library. You find some pages of a book or document that you want to copy so you can refer to them later while doing research. Well normally you might head over to the old xerox machine and xerox a couple pages and then add those to your notes. But if you have a Mac Book with you, you have a camera in it. So why not take a picture of those pages with your Mac Book's camera and then save them out as a PDF document.

In order to do this you either need to use an app specialized for this or use just the things on your Mac but in a creative way.

So here I am on my Mac Book and I want to use the camera to take pictures of pages a book. So first I am going to launch Photo Booth which is the preinstalled app that allows you to use the camera. Now you can see what the camera sees. I'm going to take a book here, I'll use my book as an example, and I'm going to put this in front of it and I can click here and it will give me a countdown.

But a quicker way to do it would be to do Command and Option and T which takes an instant photo. Some I'm going to do that. Command/Option/T takes a photo of it and now you can see it appear there and I can flip to the next page, take a photo of that. Notice that the image is mirrored because it is taking pictures of you not of pages in the book but we will take care of that.

Great. Now I have three pictures here of the three different pages of the book. Now if you were doing this for real you would probably take more care to hold the book nice and steady and get a good clean shot. But I am just doing this quickly as a demonstration.

So the next thing that I'm going to do is I'm going to select the images here. I can hold the shift key down and select all three of them. Then I'm going to do Edit/Copy or Command C which copies all three images to the buffer.

I'm going to move to another app. I'm going to move to Preview. Preview will then allow me to go File/New from Clipboard and actually create three documents at once. So you can see the Clipboard was actually holding all three documents and now I have three documents total.

If you don't see the Thumbnails there make sure you turn on Thumbnails. You can see one, two, three.

Now let's get rid of this mirroring here. You can see if I zoom in it is mirrored. I can easily fix that by just going to Tools/Flip Horizontal and now you can see it's the right way. So let's do that for each of these pages or I can actually select multiple ones here and flip them horizontal. So now I have them the right way for each one here.

So the next thing I want to do is select all of these Command A for all or just click and use the shift key and since these are separate documents I want them to be one PDF document. So I'm actually going to Print and I have them all selected so I'm going to do three pages here and I can decided whether I want to auto rotate or not. Let's have it auto rotate so it will do it the long way there. I can save it as a PDF here in the Print dialogue but I could also just go Open PDF in Preview to just open this as a second document here in Preview.

So now I can see what I have scanned in with my camera. It is a little blurry. I take a lot more care to get some good lighting and a good shot with the Mac Book's camera so I get a clearer image there.

This is a good example of using functionality in various apps and combining them to accomplish something like using your Mac Book as a scanner. So using Photo Booth you were able to take the pictures. Then using Copy and Paste functionality you were able to get it over to Preview. Then using Print PDF functionality you were able to combine them all together into a document.

Now of course if you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can do this using an App and create a document from some photos. So there are lot of different ways to do this. But this is one way to do it if all you have is a Mac Book.

Hope you found this useful. Until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 8 Responses to “MacMost Now 872: Using Your MacBook As a Scanner”

    jac mills
    6 years ago

    Gary: That book looks like a “How-To” book for Macs you held. Is that the case, and if so where can I buy one?Thanks jac mills

    6 years ago

    Thanks Gary. That was illuminating..

    Dave Wilma
    6 years ago

    This is a great tip Gary. I have used an IOS device for making copies at the libary and the advantage to using the camera in the Macbook Pro is that you can use TWO hands to keep the book open. You get confused images while juggling an open book and the IOS device. This makes it so much easier.

    Timothy Serra
    6 years ago

    Awesomely simple way to use my MacBook Pro . Thanks and I ‘ll try to actually to do this on my next trip to the library . Also might get ambitious and use my iPad. Thanks again, Tim

    6 years ago

    Gary, I never tought of that, you can’t imagine how I going to be using this tip, it will open new ways to send proofs.

    6 years ago

    You can flip or auto-flip directly with the Edit menu in Photo Booth.

Comments Closed.