You might have a flatbed scanner at home or maybe one of those “all-in-one” printers/scanners/copiers, but did you know that your smartphone camera can also be used as a scanner? flat ?
Not only is it quick and convenient to scan something when you’re away from your computer, but the quality is surprisingly good, thanks to much better camera sensors and smarter software.
Your iPhone or Android device is also ideal for scanning old photos (in photo frames, albums or hanging on the wall), documents (menus, contracts, proof of vaccinations), notes, business cards, whiteboards and receipts (great for expense tracking or reimbursement) – then store those images when you need them or send them to someone else, if you want, via email or text.
Obviously, a “scan” really means taking a “picture” of what you’re pointing the camera at, but the technology can go beyond that.
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In addition to adding color and lighting correction to photos, today’s phones also have “OCR” technology, which stands for “Optical Character Recognition”, which can translate typed words (and even manuscripts) in editable and searchable text.
Without OCR, when you scan, say, a newspaper article, it saves it as an image file on your phone, but you won’t be able to search for a keyword or send specific phrases to a friend from there. ‘article.
Here’s how to get started.
For iPhone users
Here’s how to use the Notes app to scan documents, photos, and even add a handwritten signature with your fingertip.
- Open the Notes app and create a new note (or select an existing one)
- Tap the Camera button at the bottom of the screen and select Scan Documents (yes, even if it’s a photo).
- Place everything you scan in your document in view of the camera. If your device is in Auto mode, your document will be automatically scanned. If you need to manually capture a scan, press the shutter button to scan (or one of the volume buttons).
- Drag the corners to fit the scan to the page, then tap Keep Scan.
If you scanned a photo, you will also see some editing options at the bottom of your iPhone screen, such as cropping, adjusting color and lighting, adding a filter ( such as black and white) and more. Tap Done, then Save.
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(But be aware that this will stay in your Notes folder. If you’re scanning a paper photo, it’s probably best to open the camera and take the photo and you’ll have a lot more editing and sharing options.)
How to sign a form with your iPhone
If the document you scanned needs to be signed, such as a waiver to swim in a public pool, follow these additional steps:
- Open the Notes app, then tap the document in the note.
- Tap the Share button, which is in the top right of your screen and looks like a square with an arrow pointing up. Tap the Tagging icon.
- Use your finger (or a stylus) to sign anywhere you need. You can use your fingers to zoom in and out of the document, before signing. There are various pen and marker options to select from at the bottom of the screen, if desired.
- When you’re done, tap Done.
If you want to see this in action, I created a short video on Twitter showing how to do this.
Use iPhone to scan text
One of my favorite iPhone tricks is to use the camera to immediately (and accurately) import text, as I demonstrate here.
For example, let’s say you’re flipping through a cookbook and see something you want to make for dinner. Rather than manually typing in the ingredients you need to buy from the supermarket, hovering your iPhone camera over the recipe will immediately import the text into your Notes app.
- Open the Notes app, tap to start a new note.
- Tap the Camera icon above the virtual keyboard and select Scan text.
- Hover your iPhone camera over the text you want to capture (see the actual cookbook on the bottom third of the screen) and watch the words appear in the Notes app (top two thirds of the screen) .
- When you’re done, tap Done.
How to scan text with android phone
Android users, meanwhile, can use the phone’s built-in Google Drive app to scan documents, but use the Camera app to scan text with OCR (see below).
If you don’t see the Google Drive icon on your home screen, which looks like a colored triangle, just search for the word “drive” and it will appear.
How to use Android for regular documents:
- Open the Google Drive app and at the bottom right, tap Add (the big plus sign).
- Tap the Scan icon.
- Now take a picture of the document you want to scan.
- To adjust the scan area, tap Crop (lower right icon) and move the blue dots where you want them (for example, crop the top of a desk behind the document you’re scanning).
- If it’s a multi-page document you’re scanning and you want them all to be part of a single PDF document, tap the Add (‘+’) symbol again to scan more pages or tap the check mark to upload the document to Google Drive. (Each Google account starts with 15 gigabytes of free storage — shared between Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos — but you can always pay more or choose to download and save your scans to your phone’s memory, if you prefer.)
- To save the completed document, tap Done.
How to Scan Text Using Android Phone
- Open your Camera app and point the phone at a document.
- Doing so will cause the phone to recognize it’s a document – like a contract or business card – and add yellow highlighted borders, as well as a “Scan” icon to the right side of the screen. .
- Select the words Tap to Scan and you will be prompted to draw the corners of the image to crop it. Tap the Save option.
If you don’t see this option, open the Camera app settings and choose Scene Optimizer to make sure “Scan Documents” is enabled.
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