Ultimate Guide to Scanning Documents with Your iPhone and iPad

This guide will provide you with a comprehensive walkthrough of how to utilize your iPhone or iPad to scan documents effectively, ensuring you make the most out of this powerful feature.

Using the Notes App

  1. Open the Notes App: Locate the Notes app on your device and open it.
  2. Create a New Note or Open an Existing One: Tap the icon to create a new note or select an existing note where you want to add the scanned document.
  3. Access the Document Scanner: Tap the camera icon  Camera button located above the keyboard (or at the bottom of the screen on some iOS versions). From the pop-up menu, select "Scan Documents"  Scan Documents

Position the Document

  1. Prepare Your Document: Place the document on a flat surface with good lighting to avoid shadows and reflections.
  2. Position the Camera: Hold your device so that the camera is directly above the document. The Notes app will automatically detect the edges of the paper. If the lighting is adequate, the app will use a yellow overlay to highlight the document.

Capture the Scan

  1. Capture the Document: If your device is in Auto mode, simply hold the camera steady, and the app will automatically capture the document. For manual capture, tap the shutter button when you’re ready. You can also use the volume up button to trigger the scan.

Adjust the Scan

  1. Adjust the Edges: If the automatic edge detection isn’t perfect, drag the circles on each corner to adjust the scan area manually.
    how to scan documents on iPhone
  2. Apply Filters and Adjust Colors: Select from grayscale, black & white, or color scanning options to enhance the clarity of your scan.

Save and Share the Document

  1. Review and Save: Tap "Keep Scan" after each page is captured if you’re scanning multiple pages. Once all pages are scanned, tap "Save" to add the pages to your note.
  2. Share the Document: Once saved, tap on the scanned document in your note to bring up sharing options. You can share via email, message, save to Files, or any other apps that support document sharing.

Using the Files App

The Files app on your iPhone or iPad also includes a handy feature that lets you scan documents directly into your chosen location within the Files system. This integration not only streamlines the scanning process but also simplifies document organization. Here’s how to use the document scanner in the Files app:

Access the Scanner

  1. Open the Files App: Locate and open the Files app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Navigate to the Folder: Choose the folder where you want to save the scanned document. If you haven’t decided on a folder yet, you can start in the "On My iPhone" or "iCloud Drive" section for easy access.
  3. Initiate the Scan: Tap the three dots in the top-right corner of the screen to open the menu, then select "Scan Documents."

Position and Capture the Document

  1. Prepare Your Document: Place the document on a flat, well-lit surface to avoid any shadows or glares that might distort the scan.
  2. Capture the Scan: Hold your device over the document. The Files app will automatically try to detect the document’s edges and capture it. If the app is set to manual capture, tap the shutter button when you are ready.

Adjust and Review the Scan

  1. Adjust the Edges: After the scan is captured, you can adjust the corners if the automatic edge detection didn’t accurately capture the document's edges.
  2. Choose the Filter: You can select from color, grayscale, or black & white filters to enhance the scan.
  3. Review and Save: Once the document looks good, tap "Keep Scan" if you’re scanning additional pages, or tap "Save" to finish.

Organize and Share the Scanned Document

  1. Automatic File Saving: The scanned document will automatically save in the folder you started from. You can rename the file by tapping on its name.
  2. Organize Documents: Move the scanned document to other folders within the Files app by dragging it or using the "Move" option in the file’s options menu.
  3. Share the Document: Tap on the file to open it, then use the share icon to send it via email, upload it to cloud services, or use other sharing options available.

Using Third-Party Apps

Adobe Scan


  • Text Recognition: Adobe Scan excels in optical character recognition (OCR), allowing you to turn your scans into editable, searchable PDFs.
  • Advanced Scanning: It automatically detects the type of document being scanned (receipts, forms, business cards, etc.) and enhances the scan with its auto-capture and color correction capabilities.
  • Integration: Seamlessly connects with Adobe Document Cloud, making file access and sharing easy across devices.

Scanner Pro


  • Workflow Integration: Scanner Pro offers extensive workflow integrations, allowing users to upload documents directly to cloud services like Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive without leaving the app.
  • OCR Functionality: Converts your scans into text, which can be edited and searched.
  • Multi-Page Scans: Easily scan multiple pages into a single PDF file.

Microsoft Office Lens


  • Office Integration: Perfect for those who use Microsoft Office, as it integrates well with OneNote and OneDrive, allowing for direct uploads.
  • Whiteboard Mode: It can capture notes from whiteboards or blackboards clearly and straighten images of documents and notes.
  • Document Editing: Offers basic editing tools for annotating and editing documents directly within the app.



  • High-Quality Scans: Known for producing high-resolution scans.
  • Advanced Document Management: Offers smart cropping and auto-enhancing features for text and graphics, ensuring that scans are clear and readable.
  • Secure Sharing: Allows for setting passcodes for viewing important documents, and the ability to send document links with protection.

Advanced Features and Tricks

Taking your document scanning capabilities to the next level involves leveraging some advanced features and tricks available on your iPhone or iPad. These can enhance your productivity and make your document management process more efficient.

Batch Scanning

  • Multiple Documents at Once: Many third-party apps allow you to scan multiple documents in one session. This feature is especially useful when you need to digitize large volumes of paperwork, such as during archiving projects or when organizing business expenses.
  • How to Use: Typically, you'll continue to scan pages without needing to save each one individually. The app compiles all scans into a single file, which can then be edited or organized.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

  • Editable Text from Scans: OCR technology converts scanned images into editable and searchable text. This is invaluable for editing documents post-scan and for searching through large volumes of scanned data.
  • Integration: Apps like Adobe Scan and Microsoft Office Lens provide robust OCR capabilities that integrate seamlessly with productivity tools, allowing you to export text to formats compatible with Word or Excel.

Document Annotation and Markup

  • Extensive Editing Tools: Beyond basic annotations, some apps offer extensive editing tools, including the ability to insert images, links, and even videos into your scanned documents.
  • Collaboration: Tools like PDF Expert and Adobe Scan allow for real-time collaboration, letting multiple users annotate and edit documents simultaneously.

Automated File Organization

  • Smart Filing: Use apps that feature smart organizational tools, which can automatically categorize scanned documents based on their content, date, or other metadata.
  • Custom Folders and Tags: Implementing a tagging system or custom folders within your scanning app can help manage documents more efficiently, making retrieval quick and straightforward.

Syncing Across Devices

  • Cloud Integration: Ensure your scanning app is integrated with cloud services like iCloud, Dropbox, or Google Drive. This allows you to access your documents from any device, ensuring you have all your important files at your fingertips wherever you go.
  • Automated Backup: Set up automated backups for your scanned documents. This not only protects them from accidental loss but also keeps them updated across all devices.

Using Shortcuts for Automation

  • iOS Shortcuts: Utilize the Shortcuts app on iOS to automate scanning tasks. For example, you can create a shortcut that automatically opens your preferred scanning app, performs a scan, and then saves the document to a specified cloud folder.
  • Custom Workflow: Advanced users can set up workflows that combine multiple actions, such as scanning a document, converting it to PDF, and emailing it to a predetermined recipient—all with a single tap.

Accessibility Enhancements

  • Voice Control and Siri Commands: Use voice commands to control scanning functions, which is particularly useful for users with mobility or vision impairments.
  • Text Size and Contrast Adjustments: Adjust text size and screen contrasts to improve readability of scanned documents, an often-overlooked aspect that can significantly enhance the scanning experience for those with visual impairments.
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