Pick up your iPhone or iPad the next time you’re asked to search a text and you’ll be fine.
Being asked to sign, copy, and email a paper if you don’t have one of those cool all-in-one printers with a scanner may seem unlikely. Not to mention a ten-year-old mission. However, you may already have a scanner in your pocket: your iPhone or iPad.
I don’t say take a shot of a text and then cropping it; that’s more hassle than it’s worth. It’s preferable to use the iPhone’s Notes app’s text scanner. The functionality was introduced in iOS 11 in 2017, but since you use Apple’s Notes app, you may not be aware of its existence.
I’ll show you where to find the scanner, how to use it, and some general tips for making the most of the secret feature in the sections below.
How to Scanning a Text on an iPhone or iPad?
Place the document(s) in a well-lit area on a flat surface. Create a new note or open one that already exists in the Notes app. I built a folder called Scanned Documents in which I can store and locate some scanned documents.
Tap the camera button, then Scan Documents, while a note is open.
The camera on your iPhone or iPad will unlock, with a shutter button at the bottom of the screen. Don’t press it just yet; instead, obey the on-screen instructions. Hold the laptop directly above the paper for the best performance.
As the camera starts searching and looking for the paper, a yellow box may appear. When your system searches for the edges and corners of the paper, you’ll see suggestions like “get closer.” It will immediately capture a scan until it has identified the whole text. You should click the shutter button if your iPhone is having trouble finding the paper.
In the bottom-left corner, a tiny thumbnail of each page will appear, and the scanner will stay open to scan several pages. Save when you’re done.
Make modifications to get the best scan possible.
You can make changes after scanning the paper, such as marking the corners if the scan isn’t quite correct, changing the colour scheme, rotating the document, or adding more pages.
To open the text, tap it, and all of the editing tools will appear at the bottom of the page. If you don’t want the detail used, use the crop tool to fix the corners or take out a part of the paper.
The simplest way to use the crop product, in my experience, is to position your finger near the tiny circle on each corner of the paper, which doubles as a magnifying glass. Instead of hiding the modifications, this would allow you to see them more clearly.
Your scanned paper can be signed, shared, or saved.
You have a few choices now that you’ve scanned and tweaked a folder. You can either store it in your Notes app for potential reference or sign and post it.
When opening a text, press the sharing button in the top-right corner of the screen to pull up the share sheet. Scroll below the app shortcuts and tap Markup to add your signature. The markup method includes options for drawing, writing, and adding text, as well as adding your signature. To see all of the tool choices, tap the “+” sign.
You can email the document, save it to the Files app, or handle it like any other document on your iPhone or iPad until you’ve signed or annotated it.
Check out more secret features we discovered in iOS 14 now that you know about Apple’s hidden scanner functionality. Here’s how to scan a document on your iPhone and email it directly to your Mac if you’d rather work on a scanned document on your Mac. Check out this page for more general yet always-useful iOS 14 tips.
How to scan documents on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you can use the Notes app to search documents and add signatures.
How to search a record in Notes on an iPhone
- Scanning a file
- Pick a note or make a new one in Notes.
- Press and hold the Camera remote. To begin scanning a document in Notes, tap the Camera button, then tap the Search Documents Scan document key.
- In front of the camera, place your book.
- Your text will be scanned automatically if your computer is set to Default mode. Tap the Shutter button if you need to manually catch a scan. To scan, press the
- Shutter button or one of the Volume keys. After that, drag the corners of the scan to make it match the page, then tap Keep Scan.
- Save the folder or add further scans to it.
Many banking, medical, and legal records are available in digital form—but not all—and very few people buy standalone scanners these days because they deal with paper documents, images, or photographic negatives. That’s especially true if you have school-aged children who are constantly filling out variants of the same form by hand and mailing them as paper.
For a few releases, Apple has included a scanner in Notes, allowing you to grab pages or images as documents, edit them directly (via the embedded Markup tool), or export them as PDF to fill out forms or create other changes.
Based on reader emails and online forum queries, it seems that few people are aware of the secret force. Apple’s steady updates, like most iOS/iPadOS applications, do not erase people’s memory of what didn’t work or what was omitted in previous versions.
If you need more advanced functionality than those provided by Notes, you can upgrade to a third-party app, which will allow you to access text digitised through optical character recognition (OCR), as well as better editing and assembly of finished documents.
Scan with Notes
Notes has a text scanner that is both powerful and feature-rich:
- Notes on the Launch.
- Create a new note or choose one from the list.
- Select Scan Documents from the camera button.
- Try to make the paper as level and square as possible when it’s under the camera.
- Notes captures a page anytime it identifies a record if the Auto setting is activated (the word Auto appears in the upper-right corner). Through switching out pages under the camera or pointing the camera at a sequence of pages, you can auto-scan. In Auto mode, you can tap the shutter button, or tap Auto to convert to Manual mode, after which you must tap the shutter button to capture a record.
- Documents are captured and keystone correction is performed in Auto mode. You should change the corners of a document in Manual mode, then tap Retake or Keep Scan. (Keystoning occurs where a rectangle is not captured—or projected as in a slide projector—exactly squarely.)
- Continue scanning until you’ve captured all of the pages.
- Save the file. Notes tries to remove any text from the document’s top to serve as the title.
You can also select a flash mode and change the colours captured
IDG Notes detects where a record lies against a contrasting backdrop automatically (left). Color and other parameters can be tweaked after a scan is completed (right).
After you’ve saved a folder, you can tap it in the notice to add more pages, change the cropping and colours, rotate it, and trash it.
You can also share it using Markup, which allows you to use an existing signature or build a new one by clicking the + sign in the lower-right corner and then Signature. When you’re out, tap Done to save the updated folder tab to Notes.
Adobe scan correctionIDG
You should look for text in the document that you remember (left). Make a signature (right).
To export a text, first pick it in Notes, then tap the Share button and choose any available alternative. It’s still saved as a PDF file. If you have iCloud sync available for Notes, you can also open the same note in Notes for macOS, where you can display and change it as well as export it as a PDF.
Scanned records’ contents are digitised, allowing you to browse Notes for legible material. However, in my research on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS, there is no way to pick the text or export a PDF with the text inserted. This necessitates the use of a third-party app.
Scanning with additional tools
Many iPhone and iPad scanning applications have all of Notes’ basic features as well as some extras. (Some scanning apps even provide faxing, which is helpful on rare occasions, but even among well-reviewed apps, I couldn’t find a combination scan-and-fax app that specifically disclosed fax pricing.)
Similar controls are available in Adobe’s scanning app, but refinement and export are more advanced.
Adobe Scan is the most widely used and comprehensive of these applications. Its free edition allows you to search pages and export them in a format that also allows you to copy text from the PDF, similar to how the Preview software and other PDF-reading applications do.
Additional tools for exporting in formats like Word, bundling pages into papers, and more advanced features are available for an in-app purchasing price of $9.99 a month ($89.99 per year) or as part of a Creative Cloud subscription. These options are only necessary if you work with a large number of documents or if you’re scanning pages from a book or scholarly journal and want more power over the final paper and text extraction for easier reading.
Microsoft Office Lens is a free alternative that is independent of Microsoft Office but integrates with the company’s software and storage facility. There’s also SmileOnMyMac’s PDFPen, which I’ve used for years because of its simplicity and user-friendly interface—and it’s just $6.99.