The camera on the iPhone takes great pictures, but some people don’t realize that it makes a great document or image scanner as well. Make use of that iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus or the new iPhone SE camera and become more productive at the same time.
The next time you’re in a meeting, pull out your iPhone and snap shots of the paperwork that floods the table or grab a shot of the whiteboard notes taken. As a coworker or new friend hands you a business card, snap a shot of it and the card back so she can use it for someone else.
These 5 iPhone scanner apps will help you go paperless and save time entering contact info in your Contacts app. They’ll also clear up the clutter in your computer bag, backpack and/or trashcan.
Evernote’s iPhone Scanner Apps
Evernote is a great service for gathering, organizing and storing information. It’s also one of the best iPhone scanner apps.
The Evernote app (Free) lets users snap images and organize them. It also puts a shortcut in the Today section of the pull down iOS Notification Center.
Open the app and tap on the PHOTOS button in the toolbar near the top. Or, if you’ve already created a note, then tap on the camera button at the bottom of the note screen.
The Evernote app will also place a shortcut in the Today section of the Notification area. If you haven’t already set it up, open the Notification area by swiping down from the top of the screen. Scroll down to the Edit button. Tap it and you’ll see a list of available Today shortcuts. You may need to scroll down if you have a lot of them already installed. Tap the green Plus icon next to Evernote. Use the handle (three horizontal lines to the right of the app name/icon) and drag it up or down to place it where you want it. I keep it near the top for quick access.
Now you can open the Notification area and tap on Today. Tap on the PHOTOS button to take a new shot of a document. It will automatically find the document and snap a photo if it’s on a high contrasting background. If the camera doesn’t find a document, then snap it yourself with the white circle. The app shoots the photo and waits for the user to either take another photo (for multi-sheet documents) or to hit the Save button to create the note.
Evernote also produces one of the simplest iPhone scanner apps called Scannable (Free). It’s simpler and better for scanning documents to use later.
Open the app and the camera is already on, waiting for a document to show up on a high contrasting background. Tap on the menu button (three dots inside a circle on the left above the scanned image in the first screen shot above) and open Settings to configure things the way you like on the blue menu screen (center screen shot above).
I like the Capture feature set to manual instead of Auto. The Auto capture will often capture things before I’m ready. However, Auto works best for scanning a bunch of pages one after the other. Users can also turn the flash on or off and find the link to their recent scans. That brings up earlier scans (right screen shot above).
Which App Should You Use?
Use the Evernote app if you’re planning to scan a document and immediately work with it in Evernote. Use Scannable if you want to just scan a bunch of pages or quickly import one item like a business card, notes on a napkin or white board, or a photo.
Many people use Microsoft Office and OneNote instead of Evernote. The OneNote app for iPhone doesn’t handle scanning and image import very well. However, they make an app called Office Lens (Free) which works great and even handles scanning into other services and apps through the iOS share function. That makes it one of our favorite iPhone scanner apps.
Like Scannable above, open Office Lens and the camera is ready to scan. Across the bottom it shows options for scanning Documents (selected by default when you first launch Office Lens), Whiteboard, Photo, and Business Card. Select the one you’re scanning and point the camera at it. Tap the red circle to take the photo. Hit Done to start sharing. Share using the built-in menu (middle screen shot above) or use the iOS share button in the lower right corner (left screen shot above).
After taking the photo of the item, you can still select between Business Card, Photo, Document or Whiteboard. Swipe along the bottom to do so. Each kind of scan handles the image differently. Documents will let you export the scanned document to any Office Mobile app installed or as a PDF, to Mail or to the iOS Photo Library.
On the top left corner there’s a menu button. Tap it or swipe in from the left side to see the menu. It lets users select between importing the image from the Camera or from the phone’s Photos. You can also select Recent Uploads to start to work with recently scanned images.
Scanner Pro 7
Readdle makes some of the best productivity tools and Scanner Pro 7 ($3.99) fits into that realm of quality and usefulness.
Point the iPhone camera at a document, business card, image or white board and tap the red plus button in the bottom right corner of the app (left screen shot above). This brings up the camera. The camera will automatically find the edges of the document as long as it’s resting on a high contrasting background (center screen shot above). Once Scanner Pro 7 takes the image, it loads a preview. The user can add more pages (see the left most button on the right screen shot above). This opens the camera again. Users can share the scan using the middle button or edit it with the right most button.
If the user scans multiple copies of a document, they can tap on the grid view to see them all at once (see left screen shot above). When editing the document users can change between color, black and white, grayscale or switch from document to photo mode (see right screen shot above). Editing the document brings up options to crop, rotate or change contrast and brightness (center screen shot above).
Scanner Pro 7’s probably the most powerful of our roundup of iPhone scanner apps. Users can share scans to the other apps installed on the phone or upload them to supported cloud storage services. You can also create a workflow shortcut that quickly scans the image or document and quickly uploads it to one of the cloud storage services. I created one for Evernote seen in the middle screen shot above.
Adobe Fill & Sign
Do you fill out forms sent to you in email or in paper form? Adobe Fill & Sign (Free) does a great job of handling these. Scan the document or import it from the phone’s image gallery and sign it using your finger or a stylus. You can also share PDF forms to the app using the iOS share feature. Sign the form and/or fill it out on the phone and send it out.
Adobe Fill & Sign works with an Adobe Create Cloud subscription, which then syncs with documents you’ve created using Adobe Acrobat Document Cloud service.
If a someone sends a PDF in email, you can open it in Adobe Fill & Sign. Fill it in and sign it. Then email it back. No tree needs to die in this kind of transaction.
The auto fill feature lets the user enter their personal information to make it quick and easy to fill out digital forms. Tap on the little person icon (left screen shot above on bottom left of screen) to bring up the personal information screen. Enter personal details here so they’re available the next time a form comes in email. If needed, add custom fields using the button at the bottom of the personal information entry screen. When finished, tap on Close.
When a form comes in via email or scanner, tap on an entry box (see screen shot on right above) and tap on the person icon again. Tap on the corresponding personal information item, like first name in the screen shot on the right above, and then tap on Close. The app puts a text box on the document. You can change the size of the text using the pop-up toolbar. Hit the More button (three dots in screen shot on right above in pop-up toolbar) for more options.
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