If you’re like us, then you know “scanning” documents and photos with your phone or tablet is a mixed bag. Thankfully, there are ways to scan documents that gives reliably good results, and best of all, they’re really easy.
More and more people are using the camera on their phone or tablet to scan documents versus dedicated scanner hardware. Don’t get us wrong, this works in a pinch, but it can be difficult to achieve the desired end. You may have to straighten and crop, or perhaps even change the contrast and brightness, to get them just right.
Maybe that’s okay if you’re just including a few receipts from a recent business trip, but if you want to send someone a nice clean scan of your favorite recipe or have a clear copy of someone’s business card, then it can be a challenge. There has to be a better way and luckily, if you use Android or iOS, there is.
The Best Way to Scan Documents on Android
On Android, one of the best ways to scan documents is with Google Drive. To scan your items w/ Google Drive, open the app and tap the “+”, then tap “Scan.”
Once you snap a photo of your document, Google Drive will automatically crop it and clean it up for you. If you want perform other fixes, you can crop it further, change the color depth, rename it, or add another scan. This last part is important because as you can see, Google Drive automatically scans documents into PDF, so that means you can scan multiple documents into the same file.
There are also several settings you can adjust by tapping the three dots in the upper-right corner and selecting “Settings.” In the settings, you can decide how images are automatically enhanced (if at all), paper size, orientation, and image quality.
It’s pretty easy and works well, plus it automatically saves your stuff to the cloud so you don’t need to awkwardly transfer documents from one device to another. We recommend using Google Drive for your Android document scanning needs, but as we explain in this article, it’s not the only option out there.
The Best Way to Scan Documents on an iPhone or iPad
If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, then the clearly fastest, easiest, and best way to get great scans is with Evernote’s Scannable app. Right now, it’s only available for iOS but when or if it gets an Android app, it could easily supplant Google Drive as our mobile scanning app of choice on that platform.
Scannable is a cinch to use. When you open the app, simply hold your device over your document against a contrasting background. The document, piece of text, business card, receipt, or whatever you’re scanning will turn blue and a white progress indicator will appear in the center. When it forms a complete circle, your document is scanned.
Scan able does this automatically, with fairly good results, and like Google Drive, it’s pretty good at knowing how to crop and fix a document so it’s clean and easy to read. That said, if you want to manually scan and fix stuff, tap “Manual” and then a shutter button will appear along the right edge of the screen. Tap the small “X” underneath to return to auto mode.
Notice along the bottom, there’s a scrollable tray with your scanned items. Press and hold an image and then swipe upward to delete one particular item or tap the trash icon to delete everything.
Tap on any image in the tray to edit it. If you tap directly on the image once more, a blue bar will rise from the bottom. From here you can crop, rotate, and delete the selected image.
Tap the image again and the blue bar will disappear. At the bottom of the screen is the name of the scan, which is by default “Scannable Document.”
If you tap on that, you can rename the scan. If you tap on the blue circle underneath, a plethora of options will appear; you can insert your document(s) into a message, email, add them to your camera roll (Photos), or send them to an Evernote workbook (it is after all an Evernote app).
If you have a meeting, you can share scans via calendar to any event participants during or after the meeting, so everyone literally is on the same page.
If you tap the “More…” button, you’ll see the familiar OS X options for sharing to social networks, printing and, of course, AirDrop.
Scannable also makes it super easy to save business card into contacts. You can either have the app automatically save business cards you scan directly into Evernote, or you can do it manually. Either way, you will need to have Evernote installed and be signed into LinkedIn, which you can do from the settings.
To access these settings, tap the small gear icon in the scan screen’s upper-left corner. From here you can now decide what format files are saved in, select which calendars the app can access, view the knowledge base (help), and more.
While Scannable’s powers are obviously benefited by its Evernote integration, we want to stress that you can (and we did) use Scan able without it. There’s little limit to it, so if you want to scan a funny bit of text and post it to Twitter or Facebook, or move some important invoices into the cloud, or quickly acquire a document and email it, you can do all that, and more. Scan able and Google Drive are excellent ways to move paper from its crinkly analog form to its more tree-friendly digital counterpart. The dream of an (almost) paperless office gets that much closer, and while we don’t think any organization will ever be 100 percent paperless, being able to scan something and then effortlessly share it with your colleagues (instead of heading to the copy machine), moves things in the right direction.
So, now we want to hear from you. What have you been using to scan documents into your phone or tablet? Do you have a method that works best from you? Our discussion forum is open for you to share your thoughts and ideas.
Note: I have not yet try this but will do and I am so slow in learning technology..