Scan paper-based documents on the iPhone and store them in the Apple Notes app. Carry your documents in your pocket.

Do you have an app on your iPhone to scan in documents? You no longer need it because the Apple Notes app can scan and save paper documents in Notes. Here's how to scan with Notes on the iPhone.

It wasn’t so long ago that turning your phone into a scanner using the camera to take photos of paper-based documents was an amazing feat. It was such a clever way to use the high resolution camera on the iPhone and we no longer needed a bulky scanner attached to the computer.

Now scanning has become so commonplace that even Apple has included it in the Notes app. Just create a new note, tap a button and scan away. You can add single or multiple page documents in colour or black and white.

There may still be advantages in using other apps, such as OCR (optical character recognition), which turns scans into editable documents, but if you just want to store copies of documents, then Notes is fine.

Create a new note

Open the Notes app on the iPhone and tap the button to create a new note. Press the plus button in the toolbar and then press Scan Documents in the menu that is displayed.

 Create a new note in the Notes app on the iPhone Insert an item into a note using the Notes app on the iPhone

Scan the document

The iPhone’s camera is activated and it begins looking for documents in the image. It can automatically detect the edge of documents if there is sufficient contrast between the paper and the background and a rectangle is overlaid on the screen over the document. It will capture the scan automatically.

There are a few controls at the top, such as an auto capture or manual capture mode, flash mode and colour. The big button at the bottom is to take a photo. Multiple pages of a document can be scanned one after the other.

In my test document there is a dark area in the bottom right corner and this confused it. However, after taking a photo you can manually drag the handles at the corners to crop the background out, leaving just the document.

 Scan a document using the Notes app iPhone Notes app scanning a document

Edit the note and document

The scanned document appears in the note and you can write above or below it as you normally would. It is just like an image in the note.

Tap the scanned document and it is opened for editing. A crop tool enables you to trim unnecessary parts of the scan. Press the colour button in the middle to show an extra row of icons at the bottom. There is a choice of colour scan, grayscale scan, black and white scan or a photo.

The scan can be rotated or deleted from the note.

 Type into a note in the iPhone Notes app Tools for editing a scanned document in the iPhone Notes app

Long press on a scanned document and there are options to copy it, cut it or share it.

Use Notes to scan in documents and the app’s features can be used to organise them. For example, notes can be organised into folders, important ones can be pinned and so on.

This is a useful feature in the Notes app and your notes, plus scans, are synced across devices and computers. This makes them available on the Apple Mac for example, and there is no need to mess around with syncing or online storage.