Scan Documents Using Your Phone | iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone

A scanner is an essential equipment in an office if scanning documents is part of the daily work. Although for personal use, a scanner may not be practical especially when it is just used occasionally.

But if you don’t have a scanner, what would you use when the need arises?

Although a scanner is the go-to tool when you need to produce a digital copy of a document, it is not your only choice. You can scan documents using your phone, and by using document-scanning apps to produce an image of your document quickly and easily.

Three Ways to Scan Documents Using Your Phone

1. Scan documents with Google Drive.

Google Drive is a useful office and productivity tool by Google. Aside from using it as a cloud storage for all kinds of files you want to store, it also has a word processor (Docs), spreadsheet (Sheets), and a presentation program (Slides) among other Google-integrated apps.

To complete the holistic offering of Google Drive, you can even scan documents using your phone and upload them directly to the cloud. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Launch the Google Drive app.
  2. Tap the large Plus sign at the bottom-right corner of the screen.
  3. Tap Scan.
  4. Take a photo of the document.
  5. Select Crop to adjust the document size.
  6. Tap Add if you have other pages to scan.
  7. Tap Done after you have completed scanning.

Note: This feature of Google drive only works for Android devices.

If you want to convert the scanned images to text, you may again use Google Drive, but this time on a computer browser.

  1. Log in to your Google account and go to Drive.
  2. Find the image of the document that you previously scanned.
  3. Right-click on the image and then select Open with > Google Docs.
  4. The image will be automatically converted to an editable document.


  1. The image-to-text converter of Google Docs does not transfer all formatting – it is likely to miss lists, tables, columns, but it should detect bold, italics, and fonts.
  2. The accuracy of the conversion depends on the quality of the image, and the document itself. If the document is hand-written, there is no guarantee that the conversion will be 100% accurate.

2. Scan with Apple Notes.

Apple Notes is a note-taking app developed by Apple. It comes pre-installed on their iOS and MacOS devices. Follow the instructions below to scan documents using Apple Notes.

  1. Launch Notes.
  2. At the bottom-right of the screen, tap the new note icon (looks like a paper and pencil).
  3. Notes will immediately bring up the keyboard. Simply tap Done at the top right of the screen and reveal the bottom control panel.
  4. At the bottom part of the screen, tap the camera icon.
  5. Tap Scan Documents.
  6. Take a clear image of the document.
  7. Adjust the size of the scan by dragging around the corners of the highlighted crop area.
  8. After the scan is done, tap Keep scan.
  9. Repeat steps 6-9 to make more scans if needed.
  10. Tap Save when you are done.

Note: Unlike Google Drive, Notes does not have Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and therefore cannot convert image documents to text. You will have to use third-party apps for this.

3. Scan documents using a document-scanning app.

There are numerous document-scanning apps available for all operating systems so you can scan documents using your phone regardless of its make. They work in the same way as Google Drive and Apple Notes, but you will need to install or purchase them. Here are some of these apps:

  1. Scanner Pro (iOS) – scanning, OCR, facilitated sharing, password protection, and more.
  2. Adobe Scan (iOSAndroid) – scanning, OCR, fix imperfections and more.
  3. PaperScan (Windows) – more advanced features including OCR, richer image enhancement tools, more annotations, and more formats.

How to Scan Documents Properly for Best Results?

  1. Hold the phone steadily to capture a clear, crisp image.
  2. Position your phone facing parallel to the document.
  3. Use a phone with a high-quality camera.
  4. Scan documents on a well-lit surface.

Is it Possible for Scanning Apps and Smartphones to Replace Scanners?

Using your phone to scan documents gives you practicality and convenience. And with the continuously improving cameras of smartphones nowadays, there’s little to no reason why one should buy an expensive and bulky scanner if it will only be rarely used.

Indeed, our smartphones have become portable document scanners.

You might be interested: How to Open, Edit and Create a PDF File; Why You Should Use a UPS?; Benefits of Using a Network-Attached Storage (NAS)

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