Choosing a Mac Scanner: Everything Apple Fans Need to Know

Compatibility is just as important as scanning speeds and document management when purchasing a Mac scanner.

Anyone shopping for a brand-new document scanner should feel comfortable expecting a best-in-class model to work on modern desktop PCs. Unfortunately, this process is more complicated for the 15% of desktop users who work on Mac computers. Third-party devices aren't always compatible with Apple's closed ecosystem, and those that are have different installation requirements. The good news is a growing number of scanners are built with Macs in mind — including the ScanSnap series. Let's explore what Apple customers can expect when shopping for a Mac scanner.

Need help picking the right scanner for your needs? Check out our guide, How to Choose the Right Scanner for Your Computer

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What is a Mac scanner?

A Mac scanner is a desktop scanner that is compatible with Apple's desktop computers. As long-time macOS customers know, Apple products are designed for a closed ecosystem. Apple's first-party devices connect with each other seamlessly, but compatibility is not guaranteed for third-party devices. However, as Mac adoption grows, manufacturers are incentivized to make their hardware compatible by publishing authorized macOS drivers and software. This development grants Apple users far more leeway in choosing devices that meet all personal and professional needs — including document scanners.

Verifying macOS compatibility

Before buying a document scanner, you should confirm that it is compatible with your macOS. For a third-party device, that means checking the product listing or contacting the manufacturer. This step is crucial because Apple frequently updates its operating system, which may render third-party scanners incompatible with Mac computers. While manufacturers typically update the drivers of actively supported models, consumers buying older or discount scanners will want to be sure there is support for your macOS.

Did You Know? The entire ScanSnap family of scanners is compatible with MacOS! Click here to learn more.

Preferred features of Mac scanners

Fast scanning speeds

It doesn't matter whether you're using a Mac scanner from home or the office; it should do its job quickly and efficiently — especially when scanning a high volume of documents. The industry standard for measuring scanner speed is pages per minute (PPM). So, for example, 30 to 40 PPM is considered a good benchmark for home office scanners, while professional models can handle 80 PPM or higher.

Wireless capabilities

Modern workplaces and home offices have fully embraced the flexibility of wireless technology. Wireless scanners, in particular, are easy to install, deliver electronic documents to a high number of devices, and can be placed anywhere within range of a Wi-Fi network. Most importantly, they can process the same documents as traditional wired scanners, including contracts, mail, notes, receipts, and photographs.

Document management tools

Scanning a document into macOS is just the first step — you'll also need to upload and manage the digital file that's created. A Mac scanner can help by automatically converting scanned documents into preferred file types, such as PDFs, JPEGs, or even editable spreadsheets. Depending on the scanner's features, operators may even be able to upload documents directly to cloud services like Box, Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive.

Automatic document feeding

A scanner's document feeder determines the type of documents you can digitize and how many it can scan at one time. An automated document feeder (ADF), for example, can process dozens of documents into a single file with minimal input from its operator. Alternatively, an ADF may be able to scan thick documents such as business cards, insurance cards, IDs and credit cards. When choosing between scanners for Mac computers, note whether it has an ADF, how much paper it holds, and whether it can process double-sided documents.

Did You Know? PCMagazine described the ScanSnap iX1600 as "...easy to use, fast, accurate, well built, and quiet." Click here to read the full review and learn why it earned an "outstanding" 4.5 out of 5 rating.

Our recommendation: 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.

While the entire ScanSnap line is compatible with Mac computers, we recommend the ScanSnap iX1600 for a best-in-class experience. The iX1600 supports Wi-Fi connectivity, cloud uploads, and high-speed scanning of 40 double-sided pages per minute. In addition, this model includes scanning profiles for PCs, Macs, and mobile devices to meet the document management needs of every customer. Click here to learn more and shop the full line of ScanSnap scanners.