Scanning documents is a part of most people's lives these days. Whether you're scanning receipts for expense reports, or just scanning passport or other ID details to keep them safe, scanning and saving documents online is a secure and easy way to keep track of them. If you frequently have to scan lots of pages, you'll probably want to invest in a dedicated scanner. However, if you just need to scan now and again, you can use your phone to do the job. There are some great mobile scanning apps available, so here's all you need to know.
The Best Free Android Option
If you're an Android user then the good news is that you already have a scanner on board, and it's a pretty good one too. Google Drive has its own scan function built in, and it's one of the best scanning options around.
Using Google Drive scan is easy. Put your document down flat on a flat surface (ideally a table with overhead lighting). Now open up Google Drive on your phone (it should already be there if you're on Android, but if not just head to the Play Store and download a free copy). Once the app is open hit the blue plus button at the bottom right, and then hit “scan” on the menu that pops up. The app might ask you for permission to use your device's camera, so agree if it does.
Position your phone so that the document fills as much of the screen as possible, then hit “capture.” If you're not getting enough light then hit the flash icon at the top corner and try again. Now you should have a decent enough photo of the document in question. But it's probably not perfect, you've got some edges that could use a little clearing up, and you want a scan to be just the document, not the table or bed or wherever else you laid down that paper.
A preview of your scan will appear on screen (and will probably look like most of the document has been cut off, don't worry about that). Hit the crop icon at the top right (it looks like two right angles on top of each other). Now click and drag the blue dots until you've covered just the document you need and cut off all those edges, then hit the tick mark and you're done (you can also hit the plus sign to add more pages to your document or the circle icon to re-do the scan). Easy, right? Your scans will be saved into your Google Drive account.
The Best Free iOS Option
If you're an iPhone user then the bad news is that even though there is a Google Drive app available on iOS, it's missing the scan function. However, the native iPhone Notes app does have a built in scanner. So open up Notes and then hit the “new note” icon in the bottom right corner (the piece of paper with a pencil). Hit the plus icon, then hit “scan document” on the pop up menu that appears.
A yellow frame will appear on screen, so move your phone around until the document you want to scan is completely enclosed in the yellow frame, and the camera will then automatically capture the image (if you prefer to do things manually just hit “auto” at the top right). Click save at the bottom when you're done, and that's pretty much it.
As you can see, the native iPhone scan option isn't quite as feature laden as the Android version, though it should be fine for the occasional user. If you're looking for something better, something that allows editing, for example, then unfortunately there isn't a brilliant free app available. If you're willing to pay a few pounds then the best iPhone scan app around is going to be Scanner Pro.
Other Scanning Options
If the above scanning apps don't really cut it for you, then there are plenty of other options available, some free, some not. Many of these other apps have special functions that might appeal to you if you only scan certain kinds of documents, so they're definitely worth a look at depending on your needs.
Office Lens is a Microsoft product and works as a regular scanning app. The big selling points here are two fold. Office Lens recognises handwriting, meaning you can scan letters, whiteboards and the like and still be able to search the text. Secondly, if you're a student or just someone who needs to easily capture whiteboard notes then Office Lens has a specific whiteboard setting that decreases glare and lets you get all those important notes down fast and simple.
CamScanner is another scanning app that's remarkably good at reading and recognising handwriting, though it does lack that specific whiteboard setting. But CamScanner's main advantage is its great editing suite that lets you clean up your scans and makes even handwriting easier to read, as well as the fact that it lets you easily share your documents in tons of different ways.
Adobe Scan manages to combine all the great features of both Office Lens and CamScanner. It can recognise handwriting, has a specific whiteboard setting, and decent document sharing abilities. With Adobe Scan you can also easily convert your scans into Microsoft Office formats so that you can edit them as you wish.
Finally, Genius Scan is a fairly basic (though free) option that has one main selling point: it has a bulk scan feature. If you need to scan multiple pages then Genius Scan is the fastest and easiest way to do this. The editing features here are pretty simplistic, but you can crop documents, and sharing is easy too.
Unless you're a scan fiend and regularly scan entire books there's really no need to buy a dedicated scanner. Using your phone should be more than good enough for most needs, and you probably won't need to pay a penny!