Maybe you have a flatbed scanner at home or maybe one of those “all-in-one” printer / scanner / copier machines, but did you know that your smartphone’s camera can also serve as a flatbed scanner?
Not only is it quick and convenient to scan something when you’re away from your computer, but the quality is also surprisingly good thanks to much better camera sensors and smarter software.
Your iPhone or Android device is also ideal for digitizing old photos (in photo frames, albums or hanging on the wall), documents (menus, contracts, proof of vaccination), notes, business cards, boards and invoices (ideal for tracking costs or reimbursement) costs) – and then save those images when you need them or send them to someone else via email or text.
Obviously, “scanning” really means “photographing” what you’re pointing the camera at, but technology can go beyond that.
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In addition to adding color and correcting lighting to photos, today’s phones also boast “OCR” technology, which stands for “Optical Character Recognition”, which can translate typed (and even handwritten) words into editable text. search.
Without OCR, when you scan, say, a newspaper article, it saves it as an image file to your phone, but you won’t be able to search for a keyword or send a friend certain sentences within the article.
Here’s how to get started.
For iPhone users
Here’s how to use the Notes app to scan documents, photos, and even add a handwritten signature with your fingertip.
- Open the Notes application and create a new note (or select an existing one)
- Touch the Camera button at the bottom of the screen and select Scan Documents (yes, even if it’s a photo).
- Put everything you scan your document in the camera view. If your machine is in automatic mode, your document will scan automatically. If you need to record a scan manually, touch the Shutter button to scan (or one of the volume keys).
- Drag the corners to adjust the scan to fit on the page, then tap Keep Scan.
If you’ve scanned a photo, you’ll also see some editing options at the bottom of your iPhone’s screen, such as cropping, adjusting color and brightness, adding filters (such as black and white), and more. Tap Done, then Save.
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(But keep in mind that this will stay in your Notes folder. If you’re digitizing a paper photo, it’s probably better to open the camera and take a photo, and you’ll have a lot more options for editing and sharing.)
How to sign a form using your iPhone
If the document you scanned must be signed, such as a renunciation of swimming in a public pool, follow these additional steps:
- Open the Notes app, then tap the document in the note.
- Tap the Share button located in the upper right corner of the screen and it looks like a square with the arrow pointing up. Touch the highlight icon.
- Use your fingertip (or pen) to sign wherever you need. You can use your fingers to zoom in and out of the document before you sign. There are various pen and marker options to choose from at the bottom of the screen if you wish.
- When you’re done, tap Done.
If you want to see this in action, I created a short video on Twitter showing how it is done.
Use iPhone to digitize text
One of my favorite iPhone tricks is to use the camera for instant (and accurate) text import, as I show here.
For example, let’s say you’re leafing through a cookbook and see something you want to make for dinner. Instead of manually typing in the ingredients you need to buy at the supermarket, if you keep your iPhone camera above the recipe, you’ll immediately import the text into your Notes app.
- Open the Notes app, tap to start a new note.
- Tap the camera icon above the virtual keyboard and select Scan Text.
- Hover over the iPhone above the text you want to capture (see the actual cookbook in the lower third of the screen) and watch the words appear in the Notes app (upper two-thirds of the screen).
- When you’re done, tap Done.
How to Digitize Text on Android Phone
Android users, on the other hand, can use the Google Drive app built into the phone to scan documents, but use the Camera app to digitize text with OCR (see below).
If you don’t see the Google Drive icon, which looks like a colorful triangle, on the home screen, simply search for the word “drive” and it will appear.
How to use Android for regular documents:
- Open the Google Drive app and tap Add (big plus sign) in the lower right corner.
- Touch the Scan icon.
- Now take a photo of the document you want to scan.
- To customize the scan area, touch Cut (lower right icon) and move the blue dots wherever you want (such as cutting the table top behind the document you are scanning).
- If the document is multi-page that you are scanning and you want it all to be part of one PDF document, tap the Add symbol (“+” again to scan multiple pages or tap the check mark to transfer the document to Google Drive. (Each Google Account starts with 15 gigabytes of free storage – shared on Google Drive, Gmail and Google Photos – but you can always pay more or choose to download and save scanned documents to your phone’s memory if you wish.)
- To save the finished document, tap Done.
How to digitize text using an Android phone
- Open the Camera app and point the phone at the document.
- As you do this, the phone will recognize that it is a document – such as a contract or business card – and add highlighted yellow borders, along with a “Scan” icon on the right side of the screen.
- Select words Touch to scan and you will be asked to draw the corners of the image to crop it. Touch Save.
If you don’t see this option, open the Camera app settings and select Scene Optimizer to make sure Scan Documents is enabled.
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