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15 Tips for Using an iPhone 5s Camera for More than Taking Pictures



Since iPhone 5s owners carry their camera with them everywhere, they can always take nice pictures or shoot video to record memories. However, here’s 15 great ways to use the iPhone 5s camera for more than taking snapshots or family movies. Use these tips to remember who borrowed something, where you parked the car or to keep things readily available for future use. A couple of these tips will help you recover loss, keep people from cheating you, or even help keep you healthy. No one will or should post these to Facebook or Flickr, but use them with services like Dropbox or Evernote to keep the pictures handy.

Scan Pictures and Documents

While sitting in a meeting, the facilitator hands out a couple of documents that everyone needs to keep and refer to at a later meeting. Paper haters can use the iPhone 5s camera as a scanner. Evernote includes optical character recognition, so snap the pictures using the app’s scanning feature as follows:

  1. Open up the app
  2. Choose Camera from the Create New section of the app’s menu. Three options will show up at the bottom of the screen as seen below.

evenote camera scanning fucntion

  • Post-it Note – use Evernote branded Post-it notes to scan into previously assigned documents
  • Photo – takes a picture for saving an image
  • Document – used to scan documents
  • Business Cards – sends the image of the card to a predefined contacts notebook

For documents, use the third option. The camera puts an overlay on the screen. Make the paper fit into the rectangle and shoot the image by tapping the camera button. It saves it to the Camera roll and the user can either tap the check mark in the lower right or take a photo of a second document. Take pictures of all the pages in the document before tapping the check mark. When finished the document shows up on top of the recent notes list. Tap it to annotate it, save it to a new notebook and add tags. Users can also scan Photos this way or take pictures of objects, useful for the tips below.


There’s a tool called StandScan that helps the user scan a lot of documents or photos. It’s a small document sized white box with LED lights and a hole on top for the iPhone 5s camera.

Remember Where You Parked the Car

Have you ever gone to a shopping mall downtown or an office building with a large parking garage? For people with a terrible memory, the iPhone 5s camera can help remember where you parked the car.

Take a picture of the markers on the walls or concrete columns. For example, a nearby hospital I often visit to see my church members marks the garage section using colors and letters, like green floor and section D. If that’s not enough, take a picture of the elevator buttons lit up to remember which button to hit to find the floor of the garage.

Remember Who Borrowed a Book or DVD

take a picture of borrowers and the item

Over the years I’ve lost plenty of books, movies or CDs in the old days, because I forgot who borrowed them and they forgot to return them.

Set up an Evernote notebook and take a photo of the person holding the item. If that feels weird, take a photo of the loaned item and label it with the name of the item and person who borrowed it. Put the person’s phone number or email address for easily asking for it back.

Document Personal Belongings for Insurance

Recently a friend lost almost everything when her house burned to the ground. Fortunately, they found a family scrapbook with photos taken of the living room and other rooms. The insurance adjuster used the photos to document items hanging on the walls and sitting on shelves. This helped them recoup some of their losses.

Use a digital scrapbook to do the same thing. Take photos of valuables with serial numbers for electronic items. Store them in a folder in DropBox or an Evernote notebook and share that with the insurance adjuster.

Remember People’s Names

A great way to remember someone’s name is to snap a photo and put that with their contact information in the phone’s address book. In situations where people are wearing name tags, make sure the photo includes the name tag so you can take the picture quickly and add the name later.

Record Eating Habits for a Diet

instagram meals

Lots of people post images of their meals on Instagram and Twitter. Why not do the same? Not to brag about eating lobster, but to keep a record your diet. It’s quicker than entering text into a weight loss or fitness app. At the end of the day or after a few days, record the meals based on the photos.

Record Mileage for Work

record mileage with iphone 5s camera

People who drive for work usually turn in a mileage report each month or keep record for tax purposes at the end of the year. Don’t write down the starting and stopping mileage. Instead, press the trip meter reset button on most cars today and at the end of the tip take a photo of the trip and car mileage numbers.Use Dropbox’s automatic upload feature, which stores all pictures taken in the Camera Uploads folder and saves them with the date and time on the photo name. At the end of the month, record the date/time and the ending mileage. Subtract the miles driven to get the beginning mileage. It’s the easiest way to record trip miles for work.

Teachers Can Keep a Record of Assignments

My wife teaches elementary school and keeps parents apprised of assignments by tweeting the assignment list on her smartboard so parents can know what their child’s homework is. She plans to post to a Facebook page this fall, since more parents use Facebook than Twitter. She can post pictures of …

  • The year’s supply list so they can buy the right things
  • Books she’s reading to the class so they can read at home
  • Craft ideas and needed supplies so they can donate them

Remember Where Things Belong

iphone 5s camera remember where things belong

When people use the church sanctuary at my church, they often move the furniture. For those who don’t regularly attend our Sunday service, remembering where things belong gets easier if they snap a photo first. The crew of a high school play, people who borrow a classroom at their local school or someone who rents a beach house or mountain cabin from a private party can use this tip to leave things the way they’re supposed to be left as well. Take pictures upon arrival and look them over to make sure everything’s back in place before leaving. This way the owner won’t mind loaning out the room or cabin again.

Scavenger Hunt

Church youth groups or scouting troops love scavenger hunts, but they don’t like the trouble kids can get into for stealing items to bring back at the end of the night. Instead take group photos at fun places like the big clock in the heart of our town. Then, when they all get back, enjoy the slideshow by hooking the phone up to an Apple TV and projector.

Keep Cheaters at Bay in Game of Risk or Monopoly

Ever play a long board game and have to leave it to go to class, work or to finish it the next day? Take a picture and give it to all the players so no one cheats.

Remember Medications

A new doctor always asks what medications a person takes. Snap a photo of the bottles and save the picture on DropBox or Evernote for quick access. This records the name of the medication, the doctor’s name, the pharmacy RX number and usually the pharmacy’s phone number and/or address, all in one picture. If the meds change, delete them and take new ones.

Record a Child’s Belongings for Overnight Trips

People sending their kids on an overnight trip can take photos of the child’s belongings and keep the pictures in the suitcase or email them to the chaperon. This helps the child and the chaperon get all of that child’s belongings back home.

Remember Settings on Electrical Equipment

use iphone 5s camera to remember electronic equipment settings

The soundboard in the auditorium of my church isn’t under lock and key. Sometimes people play with it. A photo helps our multimedia team quickly return the settings to their default position.  This also works with apps on a phone with complicated settings. Take a screenshot by holding down the power and home button simultaneously. Use this tip for anything that has physical or digital settings that you need to remember.

Keep a Shopping List of Things that Run Out

use iphone 5s camera to make a shopping list

When the milk runs out, snap a picture of the carton and save it to a shopping list on Dropbox or Evernote.


1 Comment

1 Comment

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