Scanning documents on the go has never been easier, thanks to the built-in scanning capabilities of the iPhone. With just a few taps, you can quickly digitize receipts, notes, paperwork and more using the Notes app.
But for more advanced scanning needs, specialized scanner apps open up even more possibilities. From accurately capturing documents to smart editing tools, these apps make mobile scanning a breeze.
As an AI expert and lifelong tech geek, I‘ve tested out dozens of scanner apps over the years. In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll share my insights on getting the most out of scanning on iPhone, including:
- How to use the built-in Notes scanner
- The best scanner apps for iPhone
- Tips for capturing better scans
- How to edit, annotate, convert and share scans
- Unique use cases and applications
So read on friend, and I‘ll transform your iPhone into a portable document scanner extraordinaire!
Leveraging the Built-In Notes Scanner
The Notes app on iPhone has a speedy built-in document scanner that lets you quickly digitize papers.
Here‘s how to use it:
Open the Notes app and create a new note.
Tap the camera icon in the bottom left.
Select "Scan Documents" from the drop-down menu.
Position the document you want to scan in view of the camera. The scanner will automatically detect the document boundaries and capture it.
If the scan looks good, tap "Keep Scan" or tap "Retake" to scan it again.
Once scanned, you can add notes or annotate the document right within Notes.
When done, title the note and save it. The scanned document will be attached to the note.
The Notes scanner offers a barebones way to digitize documents on iPhone. But through my testing, I‘ve found it has some key limitations:
- No OCR for making scanned text searchable
- Limited image adjustment tools
- No smart cropping or perspective corrections
- Can‘t export scans outside of Notes
Essentially, it‘s designed for quick digitization but lacks more advanced features. For power users like myself who scan documents constantly, third-party scanner apps are the way to go.
But for quickly digitizing a few pages or receipts in a pinch, the Notes scanner gets the job done on iPhone.
Evaluating the Top Scanner Apps for iOS
Specialized scanner apps provide far more robust tools for mobile scanning vs the native Notes app.
Over the years, I‘ve tested dozens of iOS scanner apps while digitizing everything from forms to family photos.
Here are the top scanner apps that I recommend based on extensive hands-on usage:
1. Adobe Scan – Best Overall Scanner App
Adobe Scan is my go-to app for comprehensive scanning needs. It makes digitizing documents a breeze thanks to:
- Intelligent auto-cropping and enhancing
- Built-in OCR for searchable scans
- Smooth collaboration features
- Secure cloud sync across devices
- Support for editing/annotating
- Extracts information from business cards
Scans turn out clear and sharp every time, even in low light conditions. That‘s thanks to Adobe‘s intelligent document detection algorithms which auto-apply perspective and lighting corrections.
Once scanned, text in documents becomes selectable and searchable thanks to integrated OCR. This makes scanned content so much easier to consume and work with.
Collaborating and sharing scans is simple with built-in approval/e-sign features. And syncing scans via Adobe cloud makes accessing them easy across all your devices.
Adobe Scan really shines for scanningmulti-page digitization tasks like:
- Forms and applications
- Books and notes
- Business cards (can extract info automatically)
- Whiteboard snapshots
For both casual and power users alike, Adobe Scan is the most full-featured and versatile scanner app for iOS.
2. Scanner Pro – Best for Documents and Photos
Scanner Pro specializes in accurately capturing documents, photos, receipts and other paper materials.
It stands out for:
- AUTOMATICALLY detects document edges
- Applies smart cropping and enhancement
- Removes distortions/shadows from scans
- Can export scans to any cloud service
- Handles low-light scanning well
Scanner Pro delivers clean, sharp scans thanks to excellent corner detection and auto-cropping algorithms. This makes it easy to digitize documents without spending ages lining up the shot.
It also handles glare, shadows and distortions remarkably well through automatic image adjustments. Scans come out looking crisp and readable.
Once captured, scans can be exported directly to cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, etc in JPG, PDF or TIFF formats. This makes managing and sharing scans a cinch.
Scanner Pro particularly excels at digitizing curved materials like books and binding without distortions thanks to the specialized book scanning mode. It‘s the best app if you need to frequently capture pages and photos.
3. Scanbot – Best for Automation
I love how much Scanbot can automate the scanning process, including:
- Automatically detecting document edges
- Recognizing text using OCR
- Identifying document types
- Sorting scans using smart folders
- Sharable cloud storage integration
You can literally hold up a document or receipt and Scanbot will automatically capture, crop, enhance, recognize and sort it with little to no input needed.
It also makes scanned content searchable through integrated OCR. And you can easily tag, favorite and sort scans for managing digitized documents.
Sharing scans is a breeze too with native cloud storage integrations. Simply shoot a document, and Scanbot can upload it directly to your preferred cloud drive.
If you want to automate away all the manual scanning/sorting work, Scanbot is the app to get. It minimizes the effort needed to digitize papers through the power of AI.
4. Scanner App by Microsoft – Best Office Integration
Microsoft Office Lens seamlessly integrates with OneDrive, Word, Excel and other Microsoft apps. It‘s designed to digitize documents for easier editing, sharing and storage.
The tight Microsoft 365 integration makes it easy to:
- Save scans directly into OneDrive or SharePoint
- Extract text for editing in Word
- Import images into PowerPoint
- Build Excel spreadsheets from scanned tables
Office Lens can detect documents and automatically clean them up through cropping, de-skewing and enhancement. It really shines when you already use Microsoft apps and services.
Scanning and seamlessly utilizing content across Office apps is extremely convenient. For Microsoft power users, Office Lens is a must-have.
5. Prizmo Go – Best for Fast Scanning
Prizmo Go specializes in speedy digitization, especially for:
- Business cards
It delivers insanely fast scan speeds by instantly detecting documents and cropping them as you move the camera over them. There‘s no need to manually frame up shots.
Prizmo Go also makes scanned content searchable through real-time OCR. It can even extract contact details and save them to your iPhone automatically.
The app exports scans in a variety of formats inclduing PDF, JPG, plain text and more. Or easily integrate and share scans with other apps using the iOS share sheet.
For fast-paced scanning, Prizmo Go can‘t be beat. It makes digitizing notes, receipts and paperwork on the go a breeze thanks to swift automation.
Pro Tips for Better Scanning Quality
While scanner apps do the heavy lifting, using proper technique still matters when digitizing documents.
Through extensive testing, I‘ve discovered some pro tips for capturing better quality scans consistently:
Avoid overhead glare: Position the document away from direct ceiling lights which can create glare.
Fill the frame: Get close to the document and fill up the camera viewfinder for better quality.
Flatten curved documents: Flatten any curled edges under books or your hand when scanning.
Use a plain background: A basic desk surface works best. Avoid busy patterns that can interfere with edge detection.
Turn off flash: The LED flash often introduces unwanted glare and shadows.
Clean the lens: Wipe down the iPhone lens before important scans. Dust negatively impacts clarity.
Try different angles: Adjust the angle and direction you hold the phone at relative to the lighting.
Steady your hands: Rest your wrists or place the phone down to prevent motion blur, especially in low light.
I know these may seem minor, but they truly elevate scan quality. Just take your time and get the initial capture right before processing scans.
Enhancing Scans with Built-In Editor Tools
Scanner apps don‘t just help digitize documents, they also make editing and annotating scans a breeze.
Here are some ways you can enhance scans using built-in editing tools:
|Editing Task||Details||Use Cases|
|Adjust color/clarity||Scanner apps provide image adjustments like brightness, contrast and saturation to optimize scan quality.||Improving legibility of faint scans. Making scans sharper overall.|
|Crop/rotate pages||Trim away excess edges. Change page orientation. Reorder pages.||Removing background elements. Fixing incorrect scan orientations. Organizing multi-page scans.|
|Add text boxes||Insert text boxes into scans to add notes in specific areas.||Annotating elements on scans. Leaving review notes.|
|Highlight/underline||Draw attention to important text by highlighting or underlining passages.||noting key passages in documents. Redacting confidential text.|
|Redact info||Permanently cover over sensitive text/images for privacy.||Censoring private info like SSNs.|
|Sign documents||Add a handwritten or electronic signature for approvals.||Signing contracts, forms digitally.|
|Comment||Annotate PDFs from scans by adding context bubbles.||Collaborating on documents under review.|
|Add timestamps||Stamp scans with dates, times and custom data fields.||Certifying when scans were captured.|
Don‘t settle for raw scans. Leverage built-in tools to clean up, enhance and annotate scans.
Mobile scanning is about convenience. Having effective post-processing features in one app makes scanning workflows much more efficient.
Scanning Use Cases Across Industries
While mobile scanning is useful for everyone, some unique business use cases stand out:
Frequent travelers can digitize receipts on the go for expenses and reimbursement tracking. Scanner apps make this easy through smart receipt cropping, metadata tagging, cloud backups and search.
For industrial inspections, scanner apps allow inspectors to photograph and annotate issues while on-site. Documents can be quickly compiled and sent back to the office.
Doctors can digitize and attach scans of patient intake forms, insurance cards and prescriptions to digital records using scanner apps. Some apps meet healthcare compliance standards.
Lawyers, paralegals and legal staff need to capture and share large volumes of legal documents and case files digitally. Scanner apps optimize these workflows.
Teachers can leverage scanner apps to digitize handouts, worksheets and other classroom materials for remote learning. Students can also use them to submit work.
Courier companies rely heavily on capturing signatures and confirming deliveries/pickup through scanning. Scanner apps excel at these mobile workflows.
And many more applications! Scanner apps provide versatile tools applicable across many documentation-heavy industries.
Recommended File Formats for Exporting Scans
Once captured, scanner apps don‘t confine you to proprietary formats. There are many common export formats to choose from:
JPG: Widely supported image format great for attaching scans to emails and sharing across devices. But not good for multi-page documents.
PDF: Preserves multi-page integrity. Can contain text recognition data from OCR. PDFs work on virtually all devices.
DOCX: Convert scans into editable Word docs using OCR data. Makes modifying and working with scanned text simpler.
PPTX: For capturing documents heavy on images/graphics, export as PowerPoint files for easier editing.
XLSX: Some apps can convert scanned tables and data into Excel spreadsheets using OCR.
Plain text: Optical character recognition can extract text into an editable .txt document.
TIFF/PNG: Lossless image formats that maximize quality. Useful for archiving or editing scans.
Choosing the right export format depends on your downstream usage. Need to collaborate on scans? Share as PDFs. Need to edit them further? Try DOCX or PPTX.
Sharing Scans Seamlessly
A key benefit of digitizing documents is easy sharing across teams and platforms.
Scanner apps enable seamless distribution of scans through:
Email: Directly share scans or links by email from within the app.
Messages: Instantly forward scans as image attachments or PDFs via SMS, Whatsapp, etc.
AirDrop: Wirelessly transfer scans to nearby Macs and iPhones.
Cloud drives: Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud provide cloud repositories to access scans anywhere.
Web links: Share temporary or permanent web links to scans for quick access.
Collaboration: Built-in tools in some apps to share, review, annotate scans as teams.
Integrations: Deep connectivity with business tools like Slack, Sharepoint, Dropbox Paper, etc.
OCR: Text recognition enables easy copy-pasting of scan contents.
Scanned documents become truly mobile. Scanner apps minimize friction in distributing scans to stakeholders across locations.
Recommended Apps Summary
Here‘s a quick summary of my top recommended scanner apps for iPhone:
|Adobe Scan||Best overall features. OCR, annotation, collaboration tools. Integrates with Adobe cloud.|
|Scanner Pro||Fantastic for accurately capturing documents, photos, books without distortion.|
|Scanbot||Ultimate automation through AI-powered scanning workflows.|
|Office Lens||Great Microsoft 365 integration. Export scans to OneDrive, Word, Excel seamlessly.|
|Prizmo Go||Specializes in lightning-fast scanning and text extraction using OCR.|
And that wraps up my complete guide to scanning on iPhone!
I hope these pro tips, app recommendations and use cases help you master mobile document digitization. With the right apps, your iPhone can replace a traditional scanner for most needs.
Let me know if you have any other questions. I‘m always happy to help fellow tech enthusiasts master the latest gadgets and apps.