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.
However, for document scanning you don't need to invest in OCR software 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 and/or cloud storage to help you better manage your digital archives.
Here we'll look at a range of the best document scanning apps currently available.
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Best document scanning apps - at a glance
- Adobe Scan
- Abbyy FineScanner
- Genius Scan
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 colour 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. Cost for this is a monthly subscription of $9.99 per month or $89.99 a year
If you’re looking for something a little more advanced, it’s worth checking out Abbyy’s FineScanner. 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. FineScanner 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, FineScanner 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.
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 of $7.99. For unlimited cloud storage, plus synchronization and web access through Genius Cloud, there's a monthly fee of $2.99 per month.
Scanbot 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 Scanbot 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, Scanbot 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.
For the Premium Account you have the option to pay either $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year. For the business version, which provides better options for team collaboration, it costs $6.99 per user per month, or $69.99 a year.
More 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 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 unobstrusive.
TapScanner 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 $4.99 a month, or $19.99 a year.
Microsoft Office Lens is specifically targeted at taking images of whitebaords, 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 Office 365 office suite.
Tiny Scanner 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.
Fast Scan is yet another app that turns your smartphone into a document scanner, and allows files to be saved to PDF and stored in the cloud. It also includes an OCR feature as well as PDF editing. While the app is free to use, it is supported by ads, though you can purchase an upgrade to remove these.
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