How to Scan With an iPhone A 4-Step Guide

How to Scan With an iPhone A 4-Step Guide

In a pinch, your handy iPhone can work as a short-term scanning solution.

There’s no shortage of ways that smartphones have added conveniences to our everyday lives. Having an iPhone is like having a high-quality camera, calculator, portable speaker, notebook, and gaming console in your pocket, all at the same time. Because of this varied functionality, it comes as no surprise that iPhones have a document scanner hidden away in a first-party app. While it won’t replace a dedicated office scanner, it might come in handy in a pinch. If you ever find yourself needing to quickly scan something, be it a legal document, photo, or your nephew’s crayon artwork, here’s how to scan with an iPhone.

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

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Step 1: Open the Notes app

The good news for those finding themselves in need of a quick scanning solution is that the iPhone has baked-in scanning capabilities. Your first instinct might be to turn to your camera, but instead, open up Apple’s first-party Notes app. Create a new note and you’ll see several formatting options below the blank text field. Now it’s time to tap that camera icon.

When you do that, several options pop up: Choose Photo or Video; Take Photo or Video; Scan Documents; and Scan Text. Tap "Scan Documents" to proceed.


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Step 2: Position your document and iPhone

Next, position your document or photo within view of your iPhone camera. Ensure that the entire document is in the frame, otherwise you risk important information being cut off. Once your iPhone detects something that needs scanning, it will scan it automatically. Once the scan is complete you can continue scanning other documents or move on to the editing phase.

Step 3: Edit and Save

You may not need to tweak your scan at all, but if you do, you’ve got options. The Notes app allows users to adjust the border of the scanned item, crop the image, apply a filter, rotate the file, or mark it up.

When your file looks the way you need it to, don’t back out of the app (or hit cancel) or you’ll have to do it all over again! Tap "Save" in the lower right corner to ensure that your scans stay put in the Notes app. Once you’ve done that, you should have a new note in your list containing the file with scanned documents.

Step 4: Transfer your scanned files

Once you’ve got your scanned file in your Notes app, it’s time to send it wherever it needs to go. If you have a Mac with iCloud and automatic sync between devices turned on, simply opening up the Notes app on your computer will bring you right to the file.

If that’s not an option, the "Share" icon in the upper right corner will give you more choices. From there, you can use AirDrop to send it to another Apple device, send it as a text or email, or post it on social media. Just be careful not to publicly share any sensitive information!

The need for a dedicated scanner

Once you know how to scan with an iPhone, you might wonder if you even need a dedicated office scanner anymore. The short answer: Yes. While smartphones are great for quick jobs, particularly if the quality of the scan doesn’t need to be top-notch, they’re not nearly as reliable when it comes to document shape, optical character recognition, auto-cropping, color depth, file size, image quality and speed. If you need scans of professional documents, equipping yourself with a high-quality scanner is still the way to go.


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