Turn your iPhone or Android phone into a portable document scanner to go paperless
By Enrique Serrano.
Underlying the effort to go paperless is a desire to clear out the clutter. At Lawyer Tech Review, we have already introduced some useful ideas to help in the articles replacing your legal pad by an iPad and using Evernote as an alternative to printing.
If you’re on the go and need to capture a document or quickly sketched pen-and-paper annotation, consider using CamScanner, an app for the iPhone and Android.
The CamScanner App
CamScanner is an iPhone and Android app that turns your smartphone into a portable document scanning device. It uses the camera on your smartphone to take a snapshot of a document and then provides additional options like:
- Image adjustments.
- Multi-page PDF conversion.
- Document sharing options.
- Cloud storage integration.
The creators of CamScanner suggest using the app to capture a lot of diverse documents: interesting newspaper articles, agreements, whiteboard sketches, book excerpts, business cards, tickets, coupons, and so on. But let’s take a closer look at how CamScanner works.
Mobile Document Scanning Made Easy
To scan a document, the first step is to take a snapshot of your document. For this example, I scanned a hand-written note in a dim-light environment. I used only automated capture settings (automatic flash, automatic image trimming and high enhance mode) so the whole scanning process was as fast as taking a picture of the note. With automatic flash mode, the app will use the smartphone’s built-in flash to achieve the proper lighting level. CamScanner detects edges in an automated way but also provides manual fine-tuning with zoom functions and a crosshair cursor.
Once you have scanned an image, you can rename and tag the scan to quickly find it in the future, export it to PDF format, or combine it with other scans to create a multi-page PDF document.
The next image shows how this sample scan looks after being converted to PDF. The image enhancement features produce a PDF with crisp text and a clean white background in which most paper wrinkles have been removed. The file size advantages are obvious. The original picture would weigh more than 1 MB while the scanned, trimmed image converted into a PDF weighs a tenth of its JPEG counterpart.
With CamScanner, your scanned contents are accessible from many locations. You can select images and tap the share button to send them via email, Bluetooth, save them as Evernote notes, or even to print them. And you can integrate CamScanner with your own cloud storage services like Box.net, Google Docs and Dropbox.
Why CamScanner is Better than a Photo
CamScanner offers many advantages over standard smartphone photos of documents:
- Useful photography tools control the phone camera’s flash and a digital leveling tool helps identify whether the phone is perpendicular, flat above the scanned document.
- Scanned images are already edited and require no further process. Built-in tools trim, rotate and enhance the scan to deliver a ready-to-use image.
- The scanned document image quality is surprisingly good. The automated smartphone flash plus the contrast enhancements applied to the captured image retain high readability even in challenging conditions.
- Scanned documents can be converted into multi-page PDFs, which are easier to browse than a set of independent images.
- You save space on the memory card of your smartphone since trimmed PDFs occupy much less space than high-resolution pictures.
- Scanned documents are organized and tagged when captured, making them much easier to locate and manage.
- CamScanner offers direct integration with cloud storage services like DropBox, Google Docs or Box.net.
- CamScanner users can password protect the scanned documents to add an additional layer of protection.
CamScanner comes in two versions (affiliate links:)
- The free CamScanner version (for iPhone and for Android.)
- The paid CamScanner Pro version (for iPhone and for Android.)
Here’s a comparison table of the features in both CamScanner versions:
|CamScanner Feature Comparison|
|CamScanner Free||CamScanner Pro|
|Watermarked PDFs||Yes (line of text in the bottom-right corner)||No|
|Maximum Document Number||50||Unlimited|
|Maximum Pages per Document||10||Unlimited|
|Maximum Batch Mode Scans||3 at a time||Unlimited|
Conclusions about CamScanner
CamScanner proved being a very useful application, and a much better way to quickly scan and keep texts than using the raw functions of your phone camera.
For your own personal use, to ocassionally save interesting documents on the go, or to scan fast sketches no matter where you are, the free CamScanner version will come in handy. And if you find yourself using the app often, batch scan lots of pages or share scanned documents at work then the inexpensive CamScanner Pro version will be a valuable addition to your app toolbox in the process of becoming paperless.