The best document scanning apps make it simple and easy to archive paper files as digital PDFs, using nothing more than a mobile device.
In this day and age, only rarely is physical paperwork a necessity. The best document scanning apps can help you transition to a paperless office, converting paperwork into PDFs for digital or online document storage (opens in new tab).
However, for document scanning you don't need to invest in OCR software (opens in new tab) and hardware but can instead simply use apps that are readily available for mobile devices.
This means being able to scan anything from work invoices to receipts, and the beauty of scanning apps is that they don't just create a PDF copy, but also allow you to edit the file as required before saving - that way you really do have only a copy of your documents and the information you need from them.
Some apps offer additional services, often for a small fee, in order to allow you to do even more with your scanned files. This might include document editing and management (opens in new tab) and/or cloud storage (opens in new tab) to help you better manage your digital archives.
Here we'll look at a range of the best document scanning apps currently available.
Archive documents online with cloud storage (opens in new tab)
IDrive, the cloud backup veteran, delivers tons of storage online for an incredibly small outlay. 10TB for $3.98 for the first year is unmatched till now and so is the support for unlimited devices and the extensive file versioning system available.
Archive your documents online with this cloud storage solution (opens in new tab)
IDrive (opens in new tab), the cloud storage veteran, delivers tons of storage online for an incredibly small outlay. 10TB for $3.98 for the first year is unmatched till now and so is the support for unlimited devices and the extensive file versioning system available.
We've also featured the best document management software.
The best document scanning apps of 2023 in full:
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When it comes to scanning documents for digital file storage, chances are you are going to want to save in a portable document format-a PDF file. Adobe Scan is a dedicated scanning app from Adobe, the creators of the PDF file, so expectations are high that this should deliver on most user needs.
Adobe Scan runs as an app on your mobile device, whether it is running Android or iOS and uses your camera to catch a copy of a document to convert into a PDF file. There is a preview option to optimize the file dimensions, and you can rotate, crop, and edit the color as required.
The biggest advantage of using Adobe Scan is probably its close integration with Adobe's other apps, not least Adobe Acrobat, and Adobe Fill & Sign. This means you can not only scan into PDF document format, but also edit, annotate, sign and work collaboratively with the documents that you do scan.
Even better, Adobe Scan is a free app to download and use, though there is an in-app subscription available if you want additional features.
If you’re looking for something a little more advanced, it’s worth checking out Abbyy’s FineReader PDF. The software uses optical character recognition to scan text in 193 languages.
Compatible with Android and iOS, the app lets you scan both printed and handwritten text with your mobile device. FineReader works with 12 file formats, including DOCX, PDF and TXT. The great thing about the app is that it preserves the original document formatting.
What’s more, you can access a set of easy-to-use annotation tools to add signatures and notes to text. And the iOS version of the software sports a feature called BookScan, which lets you digitize books with ease. It turns facing book pages into separate images, removing any defects.
Once you’ve conducted a scan, you can share it with anyone over email or save it to cloud storage lockers such as Dropbox, Evernote and iCloud Drive. Currently, FineReader is free to download on Android and iOS devices, but it offers in-app purchases if you’d like to get more storage and capabilities.
Genius Scan is yet another popular mobile scanning app, with its developers claiming that the software has digitized more than half a billion documents to date. Described as a “scanner in your pocket”, it lets you turn paper-based documents into JPG and PDF files.
Headline features include smart page detection, perspective correction and image enhancement. And with patch scanning, you can create digital copies of dozens of pages within seconds. The app also enhances the legibility of documents, ensuring they’re readable, and you can keep your files organized with titles, tags and a search function.
Just like FineScanner, you can upload scanned documents to a range of cloud storage platforms, including Dropbox, Evernote, Expensify, Facebook, Google Drive, OneDrive (and OneDrive for Business), OneNote, FTP, SugarSync and WebDAV.
If you’re scanning sensitive documents, you can protect them with built-in encryption and passwords (or Touch ID on iOS). It’s free to download on Android and iOS, but offers in-app purchases.
The app is free and comes with a lot of features. For the more advanced integrations and security and MDM settings, there's a one-time fee. For unlimited cloud storage, plus synchronization and web access through Genius Cloud, there's also a monthly fee.
SwiftScan is positioned as an easy and fast way to create high-quality scans on iPhone, iPad and Android devices. According to the developer behind the app, it is capable of making “hundreds of decisions to capture the document perfectly”.
With the software, you can scan documents, receipts, sketches, whiteboards, business cards, labels, QR codes and barcodes. Once you’ve scanned an item, you can choose from five color modes to make it look perfect. There are also tools to crop and optimize scanned documents, all of which are automatically captured in 200+ dpi.
You’re able to save documents as PDF or JPG files, and you can upload these to a range of major cloud services. The software supports iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, Amazon Drive, Slack, Todolist, OneDrive, OneNote and Box.
If you plan on using SwiftScan for business purposes, you can easily fax documents directly from your mobile device in 50 supported countries. As is the case with most of these apps, SwiftScan is free to download on Android and iOS, with the option of in-app purchases.
As the name suggests, CamScanner is an app that turns the camera of your mobile device into a document scanner. With it, you’re able to scan a range of documents, from invoices to receipts. The software turns scanned documents into PDF files, which are automatically uploaded to cloud services such as Box, Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote and OneDrive.
Targeted specifically at business users, the app lets you invite colleagues to view and comment on scans. However, they must have a user account to do so. There’s also an advanced editing feature, which lets you add annotations and watermarks to documents, making them look more professional. For improved security, you can add passcodes to documents.
The app is free to download on Android and iOS but you can upgrade to a premium plan to get 10GB of storage, send document links with password protection, batch download documents, and more besides.
For the Premium Account you have the option to pay either monthly or yearly, and the same applies for the business version, which provides better options for team collaboration.
More Android document scanning apps
In addition to the document scanning apps listed above, there are plenty of others to consider. Here we'll feature some of the best of the rest available for Android phones:
Clear Scan (opens in new tab) is a free PDF scanning app, which allows you to quickly scan any text or image into a PDF file. The app includes an edge detection feature to prevent your images looking skewed, and scanned files can be easily saved to cloud storage services such as Dropbox and Google Drive. While the app is free it does contain advertising, though this is generally unobtrusive.
TapScanner (opens in new tab) is another free PDF scanner that easily handles images and documents, with an autodetect feature to ensure that any images is properly aligned. In addition to saving as PDF or PNG files, TapScanner also contains an OCR function to covert images to text, and supports over 100 languages. Although the free version contains ads, you can remove these for a monthly or yearly fee.
Microsoft Office Lens (opens in new tab) is specifically targeted at taking images of whiteboards, notes, and documents, which can then be saved to PDF, Word, or PowerPoint files. These can then be saved to the cloud via OneNote or OneDrive. Office Lens is free to use and comes with no ads, though more properly integrates with the paid-for Microsoft 365 office suite.
Tiny Scanner (opens in new tab) turns your Android phone into a portable document scanner, allowing you to scan documents, receipts, reports, or anything else, and save the files as either a PDF or image file. Files can then be saved in DropBox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and even Evernote, and the scanned files can be directly sent to your PC via wifi. The app is free, and is supported by ads.
Which document scanning app is best for you?
When deciding which document scanning apps to download and use, first consider what your actual needs are, as sometimes free platforms may only provide basic options, so if you need to use advanced tools you may find a paid platform is much more worthwhile. Additionally, free and budget software options can sometimes prove limited when it comes to the variety of tools available, as well as scanning quality, while higher-end software can really cater for every need, so do ensure you have a good idea of which features you think you may require.
How we tested the best document scanning apps
To test for the best document scanning apps we first set up an account with the relevant software platform, whether as a download or as an online service. We then tested the service to see how the software could be used for different purposes and in different situations. The aim was to push each document scanning app to see how useful its basic tools were and also how easy it was to get to grips with any more advanced tools.
Read how we test, rate, and review products on TechRadar (opens in new tab).