Scanners are available for your computer, but sometimes you aren't in the office or at home and you need to save a document, receipt or other printed item. In these cases you can turn your iPhone into a scanner and save to PDF files.
There are more than a dozen apps in the iOS App Store that offer scanning facilities, so which ones are the best? The ones featured here are among the most popular and all are useful tools.
Most iPhone scanner apps are free, at least for the basic features. However, there are Pro or Premium features in all of them that can be unlocked with a payment. If your needs are straightforward and you just want to scan and save the PDF, you don't need to pay.
However, if you need advanced editing, cloud storage and other features, you need to upgrade.
Scanbot 6 - PDF Document & QR Code Scanner
Price: Free | By: doo GMBH | iOS: 9 and up | Size: 127MB
Start Scanbot and it turns on the iPhone camera and starts searching the image looking for documents to scan. A great feature of the app is that it tells you what to do, such as move closer, up a bit, down a bit and when it is just right, it automatically takes the photo. The document is automatically cropped to remove the background and straightened. It is very easy to use.
There are optional tools to adjust the colour, make it black and white, crop it some more, and rotate it. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) turns scans into text. Not all the tools are free and an in-app purchase is required for some. The basic features are free though.
The resulting scan, a PDF, can be shared in every way you can think of and here are just a few: email, Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, Photos, Reminders, Evernote, Wunderlist, Slack and many more.
This is an excellent scanner app for the iPhone.
Price: Free | By: Evernote | iOS: 8.0 and up | Size: 81MB
If you use Evernote for storing notes, Evernote Scannable is a useful companion app. It scans documents and saves them as an Evernote note. There is a share button in the app, so scans can also be sent to a printer, emailed, added to Notes, Google Keep, OneNote, Google Drive and so on. The iOS share options depend what apps you have installed on the iPhone.
The best feature of Evernote Scannable is the way it handles multi-page documents. The camera immediately starts looking for a document in the image and when it finds one and you have it just right, it takes a photo automatically. It then immediately starts looking for the next item.
It scans document after document, collecting them all together until you are done. It then saves the whole lot to Evernote. This makes it really quick and easy to scan a dozen or more documents or receipts all in one go.
There are no tools for tweaking the image ad it's only for Evernote users, but it's good.
CamScanner Free | PDF Document Scanner and OCR
Price: Free | By: INTSIG Information Co. Ltd | iOS: 8.0 and up | Size: 111MB
CamScanner requires more steps to scan documents, but the end result is good. Tap a button and the camera turns on. You then must manually position the document in the picture and press a button to take a picture. The app marks the outline of the document and if it is OK, you tap another button. You must press another button to add a page.
All this button pressing isn't hard, in fact it is easy, but it just isn't as fast or as slick as the apps that take scans automatically.
After scanning an image, a selection of filters are available to enhance the image. The app can use OCR to read the text in images, which is handy. Scans can be saved to online storage like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Evernote, OneNote and Box. They can be saved as an image, emailed or printed.
As is usual, the basic features are free and extra features can be unlocked for a fee.
Tiny Scanner - PDF scanner to scan document, receipt & fax
Price: Free | By: Appxy | iOS: 7.0 and up | Size: 58MB
Tiny Scanner is a simple and basic scanning app that does enough to get the job done competently. Like CamScanner, it is mostly manual and you press a button to turn on the camera, position the document on the screen, press a button to take a photo, confirm the crop, and save it. It takes more work, but it is still easy to use.
Some filters enable you to tweak the image quality and it can be colour, black and white and natural. The results are good and the scanned documents are clean.
The sharing options are not as extensive as Scanbot, but are good enough. Scans ca be saved to Dropox, Evernote, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, emailed, saved to the Camera Roll and a few others.
A few extras are available with an in-app purchase, such as batch mode scanning, cloud services ad AirPrint.
Scanner For Me - Free PDF Scanner & Printer App
Price: Free | By: Apalon Apps | iOS: 8.0 and up | Size: 66MB
The feature that stands out the most with Scanner For Me is the advertising. The free version of the app pops up ads with a frequency that is annoying. There is an ad-free version if you are willing to pay the fee and it is one of the cheapest apps here.
Ignore the ads if you can, it's not easy, and you get a useful tool for scanning documents with the iPhone camera. Like a couple of the other apps, it analyses the camera image and makes suggestions, like 'move closer'. It automatically detects the document edges and when the image is just right, it automatically takes a snapshot.
There are tools to enhance the image, such as colour, black and white, gray, contrast and so on. You can write on the scan, such as to sign your name and this is a useful feature. Coloured highlighter pens are available too. In fact the editing tools are among the best.
The usual iOS sharing options are available, such as saving to Photos, emailing, iCloud and whatever apps you have installed, like Google Drive, Dropox and so on.
Some features are only available if you upgrade., but this is a useful app that works well and the upgrade price is reasonable.
All these apps do a good job of scanning documents using the iPhone's camera. All are free, but some functions must be unlocked with an in-app payment. Scanbot is my favourite app, whether it is for free or the Pro version costing $7.99. The scans seemed a little bit clearer.
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Published: 01 February 2017