If you’ve used us for your home financing, you probably know that our handy mortgage app (on iOS and Android) allows you to scan and submit your mortgage documents right from your phone. But your mobile devices can scan so much more! With your phone or tablet camera and a scanner app, it’s easy to digitize your important and not-so-important paper documents so they’re securely backed up, accessible anywhere and easily searchable. Here’s how you can turn your mobile device into a powerful scanning tool.
iOS (iPhone or iPad)
The latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 11, includes a new scanning feature in the Notes app. To make use of it, make sure your Apple device has been updated to iOS 11.
Here’s how to scan a document using an iOS device and the Notes app:
- Open the Notes app.
- Tap the square and pencil icon to create a new note.
- Tap the + icon (it may appear above your keyboard).
- Choose Scan Documents.
- Aim your device’s camera at the document you want to scan. Notes will automatically capture the scan, or you can manually scan by pressing the shutter button on the screen.
- Once the scan has been captured, you can drag the corners of the box that appears to adjust the cropping of the document, then choose to either Keep Scan or Retake.
- Once you’ve scanned all the pages, tap Save.
- Next, you can review your scanned documents in Notes. To make any corrections, such as cropping or rotating an image, tap the image of the page you want to adjust to access the editing options.
- When you are finished with any corrections, tap Done in the upper left corner.
- When you’re ready to save the scan as a PDF, tap the Upload icon (box with an up arrow) in the upper right corner of the screen and choose the desired file export options.
- Tap Create PDF, and the PDF of your document will open in Notes.
- Tap Done.
- Notes will present the options to Save File To. Select where you would like to save your file, then Tap Add. Your PDF will be saved to the location you select.
If you have trouble finding your scanned document, look in the Files folder (also a new feature in iOS 11). You can also use the Search option to locate a file faster by file name. Once you find your file, you can select it and email or share it as desired.
Google’s official solution to scanning with an Android phone is included in the Google Drive app. If the app isn’t already installed on your device, it’s available for free from the Google Play store.
Here’s how to scan a document using an Android device and Google Drive:
- Open the Google Drive app.
- Tap the + icon in the bottom right.
- Tap Scan (the camera icon).
- Aim your device’s camera at the document you want to scan, and tap the blue shutter button to capture the scan.
- A copy of your scan will appear. The icons on the top right of the screen allow you to crop, rotate, rename and adjust color. When you’re finished with any adjustments, tap the + icon to scan a new page or tap the checkmark to finish.
- The document will be uploaded to your Drive account as a PDF. Depending on your settings, this may require a WiFi connection. If so, you can also click the refresh icon (a circular arrow) on the document to perform the upload via your cellular connection.
From Google Drive, either in the app or online at drive.google.com, you can select your file for options to email or share it as desired.
Are the apps above not supported on your devices, or would you prefer to try another one? Other popular free mobile scanning apps include Adobe Scanner, Tiny Scanner, CamScanner, Genius Scan, TurboScan and Microsoft Office Lens (search for them on your app store of choice). Give them a try if you’re looking for another mobile scanning solution. Adobe Scanner is a particularly good choice if you want an OCR (optical character recognition) feature – the ability to copy and paste or search the text within your scans. Please note that these apps may have optional paid versions, subscriptions or in-app purchases.
To ensure your scans turn out great, follow these tips when scanning:
- Smooth out any creases on your documents and place them on a flat surface
- Ensure there is good lighting, and if possible, light the document from an angle or multiple sides to avoid shadows
- Position your device directly over the document at a perpendicular angle when taking the scan
As convenient as it is to scan with your mobile device, dedicated scanners still produce the best quality output. If you’d prefer to go that route for your scans, consider a scanner such as one of these.
Securing Your Scans
If your scans contain personal, sensitive or important information, it’s essential to keep them secure. For better security, consider setting a strong password or PIN code on the devices that can access your scans. If you upload your scans to online storage services, make sure those accounts also have strong passwords and 2-factor authentication if available. Be careful when emailing or sharing sensitive scans as this puts your files a greater risk. If your scans will be your only copies of important documents, consider backing them up on a separate device, such as by using a data backup service.
Managing paper files is a chore, but once you’re handy with a scanner, you can cut down on the hassle, space and liability your hard copies create.