Turn your iPad into a scanner, copier, and fax with Scanner Pro

Turn your iPad into a scanner, copier, and fax with Scanner Pro

Summary: This inexpensive app turns the iPad (iPhone too) into a full-featured scanner that connects to the cloud. It prints to make copies and can fax documents cheaply over the web.

TOPICS: Apps, Hardware, iPad, Mobility

Freelancers and others who work from home sometimes need standard business tools such as scanners, copiers, and fax machines. These can be expensive, especially since most aren't needed very often. A cheap app for the iPad can turn it into all of those office tools.

Scanner Pro ($6.99) uses the iPad (or iPhone) camera to snap high-resolution images from documents. I prefer the iPad with Scanner Pro as the larger display makes it easier to manipulate the recorded document.

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Once a document is snapped using the app, it can be sent to the cloud (Evernote, DropBox, Google Docs) for storage. The scanned document can be printed to any printer that supports Air Print, turning the iPad into a simple copier.

Documents can also be sent directly to any computer over the local Wi-Fi network. This is an easy way to get PDFs into the computer using just the iPad.

Scanned documents can also be faxed over the web for $0.99 handled as an in-app purchase. The fax recipient can be manually entered or picked from the user's contact list. The faxes are sent in just a few seconds once paid for in the app.

When a document is snapped by the app (multiple pages are supported), the app automatically determines the document borders before saving. They are clearly marked on the document image and can be easily moved by touch. This is important as it provides a great way to limit a copy/ fax to only a portion of a scanned page if desired.

Scanner Pro can save scanned documents as either JPEG images or PDF documents. It is possible to open the scanned image in an appropriate app for handling the selected document type from within Scanner Pro. This allows further manipulation of the resultant file when necessary.

The iPad with Scanner Pro has been serving me as a capable scanner, copier, and fax machine for a while. I don't need any of these functions often, but when I do this method works quite well and for a low cost. Just as importantly it takes almost no desk space, unlike the equipment it has replaced.

See also:

Topics: Apps, Hardware, iPad, Mobility

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  • Hand scanning with the iPhone

    When you have as bad a case of Essential Tremor as I do, taking pictures with the iPhone is difficult enough. Holding it steady enough to get a high-res, non-blurry scan would pose a serious problem for me.
    • Thanks for sharing

      That's like an amputee complaining he can't work the clutch in a car. So you are correct, for the one in a thousand, making copies with an iPhone is not practical.

      Consider it noted.
      • That was harsh

        I haven't been diagnosed with any kind of tremor but I too found it difficult to take non-blurry pictures of receipts, especially if there was any small, faded print on them. And when I turned on the flash to reduce exposure time (which would reduce bluriness from a shaking camera) I found that if the receipt was glossy, the flash would cause glare making portions of the receipt unreadable.

        Thanks for posting thetwonkey. While your medical condition probably makes this type of solution even more difficult for you, you bring up an excellent point that is relevant to the population as a whole. Ignore the criticism, that was uncalled for.
      • More Like

        one in 500,000
      • Don't call us...

        Your application to join the human race has been received. Your attitude to existing members has been observed. Consider it noted.
        Graham Ellison
    • Possible solution

      When no rostrum camera was available in the old days we used to suspend the camera between two piles of books - pointing downwards. You could try the same trick with an iPad. Then, with the iPad steady, all you have to consider is the document.
      Graham Ellison
      • Don't take this the wrong way

        There are several solutions that would work but now we are talking about piling up books on your desk. Remember, one of the advantages of this type of solution is that you don't have to have a lot of desk space available for a regular scanner. If we need desk space available to pile up books, we might as well use a scanner which actually works far better.

        The other problem I've found is one of lighting. If you position your camera directly above what you are trying to scan, you block a lot of light from reaching the page. I've never used an iPad for this, always my iPhone, but iPad, being so much bigger, would be even worse. The best solution I found is to take the picture at an angle. Sure, you could start directing desk lamps from the side but now we are talking about enough desk space for piles of books AND a desk lamp when the original purpose was to free up the desk. Sure, you could use the flash (if your iDevice has one) but as I said below, I personally found the flash to be a poor solution if the receipt was glossy since it would cause glare on portions of the receipt making it unreadable.

        It is only $6.99 so yeah, there is little lost if this solution doesn't work for you. However, I've found that James Kendrick tends to gloss over all the negatives of any solution related to an Apple product. He has done so again this time.

        Edit: Just to clarify, I almost always found that I eventually could get a decent scan, no matter what it was I was trying to scan. In my experience though, it would take several tries and creative lighting solutions. One day I realized that my "time saving" process was taking me several minutes to get a single receipt scanned. Pulling out my scanner and getting it right the first time ended up being more "time saving" than taking 5 tries with my iPhone.
  • Check out Genius Scan as well. (NT)

    • And Toddbottom3,

      As everyone here can attest to,you tend to always paint anything Apple in a negative light, due to your undying love of Microsoft. So anytime anything Apple does is good, you try to come up with the most ridiculous things to put them down.

      Must be why your single, alone, and live in a basement. I actually feel sorry for you.....
      • I acutally have to stick up for him here...

        Yes, Mr. Bottom has a long history of pro-Microsoft, anti-Google, anti-Apple rhetoric. I also will half-agree with you when applied to his slur against the author; while it was a slur, the author *did* forego any expression of having difficulty getting things to scan.

        In this case, the issue is inherent to taking pictures of stuff at close distance with sufficient resolution to read it. This issue is agnostic to the OS of the device, and I can attest to that having made many-an-attempt to use a QR barcode scanner on both Android and Windows Mobile (yes, there are QR apps for WM6.5). No operating system can get rid of shadows, or flash glare on a glossy surface. If you're piling books and directing light so you can use an app, one must necessarily question the utility of such an endeavor if one does have a flatbed scanner at their disposal.

  • I bought this app a while ago

    It probably works as well as could be expected but I went back to my scanner after a couple weeks. It took more time to place the receipt properly, get it properly lit, correct the "auto" borders, retake the pictures a few times because glare made a section of the receipt unreadable than it did to pull out my trusty scanner, plug it into USB (no power cable, it is powered through USB) and scan it properly the first time.

    Also keep in mind that while this works okay with small receipts because you can get up close, it is a total fail with large receipts if they have any small print on them. You have to get so far back to get the full receipt in the frame that you can no longer see any small print on the receipt.

    If you scan one thing a month, it is relatively small, and you don't care about quality, these camera scanners work okay. For everything else, the extra $50 spent on a cheap camera will pay for itself very quickly for anyone who values their time.

    To be fair, it is possible this app would work better with an iPhone 4S since the camera is significantly improved. I have the iPhone 4 so my comments should be taken in that context.
  • Scanner Pro

    Is there an Android version available or similar app for Android platform?
    • Yes

      Here: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=android+document+scanning+app
  • better than camera?

    I use my iPad and iPhone to snap photos of receipts and recipes and save to Evernote. It's not a great process, but it works. Is this app better than just using the camera?
  • Advantages

    I see a couple useful advantages over using just the camera. The auto edge detect, multi page document, and PDF format are nice features if you can take advantage of them. The ability to create a business expense report including receipts is one example I can think of.
    • multipage

      Ah, yes, multipaging does sound nice. Good point. 6.99 is not very costly! I'll probably give it a shot.
  • Not Practical & Sub-optimal for Real Professional Use

    All these solutions sound great in concept but are not that practical for real professional use. Hardware has limitations in functionality. Though it sounds great to have an "all-in-one" but such "jack-of-all-trades" products are "masters-of-none" products. There is a reason for a dedicated copier, scanner, fax, printer and a phone--multi-function all-in-one printers do a good job on four functions--because of sharing of same engine. A tablet is a tablet--good replacement for netbook, if one does not need a physical keyboard, and likes to read a screen looking downwards, and don't mind holding the screen in hand. But for real work, professional quality, better not to rely on this solely.
  • Expensive? 69.99 is hardly expensive to a professional

    for an all-in-one, and I can say they work better then this. And way easier, too.

    How does it make copies?
    William Farrel
    • Too limited

      I would not want to have this as my only option should I have a real need for such capabilities.
      Tim Cook
  • File Size

    I have another app that does the same thing. The one thing that I don't like about that app is the file size. For a gas receipt for example, the size is about 300k. When scanned with a "real" scanner it's about 20k. What size file does "Scanner Pro" produce. If it's somewhere below 75k or so it might be worth giving it a try. At $6.99 it's not worth the gamble not knowing before hand.