Scan Documents on iPhone and iPad, no app needed!

A very Note-worthy tip

by: - Last updated on: February 16th, 2021

Key Takeaways

  • Scanning documents and papers has become a greater part of our lives with a lot of us needing to share information while working from home.
  • There are a wide array of apps out there that enable you to use your iPhone/iPad as a document scanner. But you actually do not need any of them.
  • Your iPhone and iPad camera can function as a scanner app without a third-party app. All you need to do is use the Notes app, which comes preinstalled on all iOS devices.

In this era of all things digital (and working from home – thank you, COVID-19), scanning documents is more or less like a daily chore than a ‘once in a blue moon kind’ of occurrence. So much so that if you are anything like us, you would have a third-party app (or two) downloaded on your iPhone to help you with this errand – be it Microsoft Office Lens or Adobe Scan or Scanner Pro or something else. You too, unlock your iPhone, look for the app, open it, scan the document, share it (if needed) and then go about your day.

scan documents on iPhone

Well, if this is true, there probably will be one less app on your iPhone after reading this article because your iPhone actually comes with an in-built document scanner. And, so does your iPad, but for the sake of simplicity, we are going to use the term “iPhone” here.

Yes, you heard that right. You do not need third-party apps or other elaborate measures to scan a document. All you need is an iPhone/iPad that runs iOS 11 or above and to follow these simple steps:

How to Scan Documents on iPhone and iPad without using a third-party app?

Step1: Open the Notes app

On your iPhone, find the Notes app. It is a stock app which means you do not have to go to the App Store to download it. It comes preinstalled on your device. It is as easy as looking for it and opening it. If you have added Notes to your Control Center (click that link to know how to do that), you might not even need to unlock your iPhone and can directly open a new note from your Lock Screen.

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Step 2: Create a new note

Once you have opened the Notes app, tap on the ‘tiny note and pencil’ icon on the bottom right side of your screen. This will create a new note for you to work on.

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Step 3: Tap on the little Camera

After you have the new note open in front of you, you will have a line of five different options right above your keyboard. If you cannot see these options, you will have a tiny “+” icon above the keyboard, you will have to press it to get these options. Amongst these options, you will find a ‘camera’ icon. You have to tap on that.

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Step 4: Pick “Scan document”

Tapping on the camera icon will bring up three options— “choose Photo to Video”, “Take Photo or Video” and “Scan Documents”. We do not think we need to tell you which one to pick here, do we?

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Step 5: Scan away

Once you have selected the third option, the app will open up the camera on your iPhone. You can now take the picture of the document you would like to scan, resize it as you like and then press the “Keep Scan” option on the bottom right side of your display. If you are not happy with the result, you can select “Retake” and take another photograph. You also have the option to use flash, different filters, and auto shutter to help you scan these documents. While using auto shutter you just have to point your camera at your document long enough for it to get a grasp of the edges and then it will take a picture which will then be scanned.

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Step 6: Save that scan

After you have decided to keep the scan, the app will go back to the camera, allowing you to scan other documents, if required. If you have multiple documents to scan together, you can click “Keep scan” each time and save them all into a single PDF at the end. Once you have finished, click on Save on the right corner on the base of your display and the PDF will be saved in the very note you opened first.

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Step 7: Share (if needed)

If you wish to share this scanned document, you can do so by simply opening the Note, tapping on the scanned document, and then hitting the arrow in the top right corner. Select the app you want to share it with and the person you want to send it to and voilà! Your document’s PDF copy is now available to you and your friend.

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Of course, it needs to be remembered that this is not a solution that will give you as many editing and layout options as some third-party document scanner apps do. But then, most of us just need a scanner that works swiftly, and the iPhone’s Notes app more than suffices for that use case. They say there is an app for everything but in a world and smartphones full of apps, we could always do with one less, as long as the functionality is not compromised. And this tiny trick will bring you one step closer to that goal.

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