Scanning documents and photos with your phone is easy and there are very easy ways to scan items and get reliable results. Of course, a dedicated scanner is still great if you need to scan a large number of documents frequently, but using the phone also works very well if you only have a few documents to scan from time to time. Here’s what we recommend for Android and iOS.
How to scan on mobile: Google Drive and other apps
If you’re using an Android device, the best way to scan documents is through the Google Drive app, which comes preinstalled on virtually all Android devices today. You can choose other cloud storage applications to scan as well, such as OneDrive, Dropbox, Evernote, and more. Our guide is based on Google Drive, but the procedures are similar for all other apps.
Scan by cell phone step by step
You can scan documents directly into Google Drive by tapping the “+” button in the lower right corner of the home screen. When the menu slides up, select “Scan”. You can ask permission to access the camera phone. If yes, tap “Allow”.
When you’re ready to scan your document, fill in the document as wide as you can and touch the blue capture button. You can also shed some light on the document by tapping the flash icon next to the capture button if the device has a flash. If your device does not have a flash, this option is not displayed.
After you scan the document, a preview of it appears immediately. Do not worry if it looks like most of the document is cut off. This is where the cropping tool comes into play. Touch it to make cut adjustments. Tap, hold, and drag points to change the area that has been scanned and loaded – you’ll probably just need to tap corner points for it. Once finished, touch the check mark in the lower right corner of the screen.
You have three options immediately after scanning something:
Touch the plus icon to add more pages to the document.
To redo a scan, touch the circular arrow in the middle.
Tap the check mark icon to complete and upload the document to Google Drive.
You can also make small adjustments to the scans as you go. For example, tapping the painter’s palette in the upper right corner lets you change the color selection and direct it to a specific type of document. By default, the scanner automatically selects what it thinks best.
Finally, the three dots in the upper right corner allow you to delete, rename and rotate the check if necessary. Uploaded scans are added to Google Drive as PDFs, and the names are preceded by the word “scanned,” followed by the date and time. You can move, rename, or delete any scanned document by clicking the three dots next to the file name.
You can also share your scanned documents in this menu by tapping “Share link”. This will share a link to the document in Google Drive, while “Sending a copy” will allow you to share the file via email, upload it to Dropbox, and more.
Or, if you switch to a desktop computer, you can even convert the scanned PDF into a document that you can edit or export to Microsoft Word.
Application that scans on iOS
Unfortunately, Google Drive does not have an option to scan documents in your iOS application, but the Notes application on your iPhone or iPad has built-in capability. The only downside is that it is pretty basic and does not come with many features. So if you want something a bit more robust, you need a more complete app, like Scanner Pro. Even with paid apps, they’re worth it if you need extra features like OCR (Character Recognition) and the ability to share a scanned document with several different services.
Let’s take a step-by-step based on Scanner Pro, but the procedure is similar for any other app.
After downloading and installing the app, open it and tap the plus button in the lower right corner of the screen. Fill the screen with the document you want to scan. When you do this, a blue box will highlight the document to intelligently mark the edges of the paper.
When the document is ready to be scanned, the application will scan it automatically or you may have to press the capture button at the bottom. This is based on whether you have set to Manual or Automatic, which can be accessed by tapping the relevant setting in the upper right corner of the screen.
You can also access different scanning options at the top depending on what you are scanning exactly.
In any case, after the document is scanned, touch, hold, and drag the corner points to better fit the boundaries of the scanned document. Sometimes it is not exactly correct. When done, touch “Save selection” in the lower right corner. Or tap “Resume” if you are not satisfied with the result.
After saving, you will be taken back to the verification screen, where you can scan more pages of this document if there is more. Otherwise, touch the arrow in the lower right corner to end the scanned document.
At this point, you can save the document to any number of cloud storage services or email it to someone (or yourself). Do this by tapping “Share” at the bottom.
You can also make last minute edits to the document if you’ve forgotten to do them before by tapping “Edit”, or you can click “Add” to add more pages that you forgot to include.
In the Share menu, you can select the file format to save the document as: PDF or JPEG.
Below is where you can share the document, either by emailing it, saving it in your photos, faxing it, or saving it to a variety of cloud storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox .
After doing what you need to do with the document, return to the main screen of the scanned document and save the document locally in the Scanner Pro by tapping “Save” in the upper left corner, or touch the ellipsis icon in the upper right corner to delete the document.
From this same ellipsis menu, you can also perform an OCR scan of the document and copy all the text it recognizes into a Word document if desired. You can also do this through Google Drive on the desktop, if that’s easier.
Doubts? Leave in your comments your questions and suggestions from other apps to scan documents!