How to Scan on Android: A Quick-Start Guide

How to Scan on Android: A Quick-Start Guide

While not a replacement for a dedicated scanner, your Android phone can help if you’re in a bind.

Picture this: It’s late at night, and you suddenly realize you need to scan an important document. Perhaps you need to scan your ID for some legal forms, or send tax documents over to your accountant. While it’s not a true replacement for a dedicated scanner, your Android smartphone can help in situations like these thanks to built-in scanning features and third-party apps. Figuring out exactly how to scan on Android will largely depend on the model of your phone, but we’ve outlined the general method below.

Got something else that needs scanning? Check out our comprehensive guide, "How to Scan Just About Anything"

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Step 1: Open your camera app

This option isn’t available on all Android models, so this may not apply, but you’ll find an embedded scanning option in newer models of Samsung’s flagship Galaxy series of Android phones. Simply open up the camera app and position the document you want to scan in view; your Android phone will automatically detect the item that needs to be scanned.

Once your phone has detected the document, tap the scan prompt. In a few moments, you’ll see your scanned document highlighted on screen, and from there you can make any necessary adjustments. Just make sure the entire document is in the frame before you hit "scan," otherwise your phone may have trouble detecting it.

If you’re able to do this first step, you can move on to Step 3. Otherwise, continue on to Step 2.

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Step 2: Use Google Drive

If your camera doesn’t have built-in scanning capabilities, you still have options. Because the Android operating system is owned by the tech giant Google, Google Drive is an alternative choice if you need to scan in a pinch. Open up the Google Drive app and tap "Add" in the bottom right corner. Tap "Scan" and take a photo of the document you’d like to scan. From there, you can adjust the scan area, scan another page, or take the photo again if you weren’t satisfied with the first result.

One thing to note about Google Drive scanning is that the feature set is limited, so there’s not much room for custom editing. It’s a simple solution for impromptu scanning, but not as convenient for frequent use.

Step 3: Transfer your scanned files

After scanning, your next step will depend on which method you used for scanning. If you used your camera app, you’ll find your document in your saved files. From there, tap the Share icon to send the file via email or Messenger. If you’re using Google Drive, simply sign into your Drive from any computer or mobile device. You can also send files from your Drive or download a copy onto your computer’s hard drive.

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Do I still need a dedicated scanner?

Using your Android phone for quick scanning tasks is convenient, but it’s not a long-term solution. If you find yourself frequently in need of a scanning solution, you’ll want the quality and speed of a desktop scanner. This is especially true if you work from home and often need to scan professional documents. Dedicated scanners offer more features including optical character recognition, auto-cropping, color depth, file size, image quality and speed. They’re also better equipped to handle larger batches of documents or post scan editing.

Our recommendation: ScanSnap iX1600

We know you have no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a home document scanner. We pride ourselves on having spent the last 50+ years designing and developing some of the most beloved electronics in the world, including our line of award-winning, easy to use, one touch ScanSnap scanners.

The ScanSnap iX1600 builds upon our flagship ScanSnap series and adds more speed and more intuitive controls. The 4.3-inch touchscreen should feel familiar to anyone who has used a smartphone, and speedy scans of up to 40 pages per minute at 300dpi quality makes the iX1600 ideal for professional use. Naturally, it’s equipped with Wi-Fi to make sharing and transferring files a snap — you can upload to the cloud straight from the scanner. Click here to learn more and shop the full line of ScanSnap scanners.