It's Pretty Easy, Actually

How to Turn Your iPhone into a Great Scanner

June 27, 2017 Tech : Apps By

Prior to the smartphone revolution, documents were digitized using all-in-one printer/scanner/copier machines. They were huge. Plus they were plagued with clunky, frustrating software. Fortunately, today’s smartphones can digitize printed documents with ease. All you need to know is which app to use.

Adobe Scan

Adobe Scan is ideal for both business and personal applications. The app uses optical character recognition (OCR) to let users edit text after a document is captured. Other scanner apps for your phone will do a good job of creating a detailed file, but Adobe takes things one step further by creating “Smart PDFs.” Since the text is part of the file, users can search, highlight and comment on phrases or paragraphs. The app does require users to pay for an Adobe Document Cloud subscription (which starts at $13/month), but if you’re a document-scanning power user it might be worth your dollars.

Note: the Adobe Scan app is free to download, but requires a paid subscription to be used.


ScanBot is a good alternative to Adobe Scan since its free version offers many useful features. The app captures documents cleanly and accurately, thanks to fast edge detection, continuous mode (automatically snapping a photo when leafing through a muli-page document), and onscreen feedback to easily achieve a useable shot. The free version of the app works well, and for $6, users unlock OCR (optical character recognition, like Adobe). ScanBot is a reliable choice that will turn your documents digital for a fraction of the price of Adobe’s services — since it doesn’t require a subscription.

Scanner Pro

The runner-up to ScanBot is Scanner Pro ($3 on iOS). With the fastest edge detection of the three and built in OCR support, it’s the most affordable option since it’s a one-time app purchase (no subscription necessary, like Adobe). Scanner Pro has a handy tool called Scan Radar which automatically goes through your camera roll and identifies documents. If you need to snap a shot of a lunch receipt quickly, use your normal camera app (easily accessible from the lock screen). You can then edit those documents that have been automatically been pulled into the app. Scanner Pro might be the weakest in terms of performance of the three apps, but still, it performs its basic functions well — and like anything in life, you get what you pay for.

It’s important to note that Google Drive and Dropbox both have built-in scanners within their respective apps. They’re not very advanced and don’t feature the benefits of the aforementioned choices, but if you’re a regular user of the services and don’t need anything fancy, know that it’s baked right in.
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