How to Scan on iPhone: Quickly Extract Text from Anything for Effortless Editing

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How to Scan on iPhone

Smartphones have become an indispensable part of our lives. We use them for everything from communication to entertainment to organizing our day. One capability that has increasingly grown more advanced is using your iPhone as a scanner.

With each new iOS update, Apple adds new features that make it easier to scan on iPhone documents and images into digital formats for organizing, editing, sharing and more. This brings many benefits over traditional desktop scanners including convenience, portability, and versatility.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about how to scan on iPhone including:

  • An overview of built-in scanning capabilities
  • Step-by-step instructions for basic image and document scans
  • Tips for optimizing scan quality
  • Advanced settings and features for power users
  • How to convert scans into editable formats
  • Security and privacy best practices
  • Top scanning apps for iOS

The Many Benefits of Scanning on Your iPhone

Here are some of the great reasons to use your iPhone as a mobile scanner:

  • Convenience – Your scanner is with you 24/7. Easily scan on iPhone receipts, documents, notes, business cards etc. whenever needed.
  • Portability – The compact size means you can scan on the go on iPhone. No need to be confined to a desktop scanner.
  • Organization – Scans are automatically imported into the Photos app with date/time stamps for easy organization.
  • Efficiency – Streamline workflows by reducing paper and digitizing documents for easy sharing and editing.
  • Accessibility – iPhone scanning aids visually impaired users via OCR and screen reader support.
  • Versatility – One device can scan on iPhone documents, books, QR codes, barcodes, whiteboards and more in high quality.
  • Cost Savings – An iPhone eliminates the need for a separate stationary document scanner.

As you can see, scanning with your iPhone has many benefits for productivity, convenience and accessible workflows. Next up, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide to get you started with basic image scanning using your iPhone.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Scan on iPhone

Scanning documents and images on your iPhone is easy once you know the basic steps. The process uses the built-in Camera and Photos apps with powerful OCR features to convert scans into editable formats.

Here is a step-by-step guide to how to scan on iPhone:


  • Update to the latest iOS version for full access to scanning capabilities
  • Enable OCR languages in Settings to detect text accurately

Launch the Camera App

  • Open the Camera app on your iPhone. For best results use the rear camera.

Position the Document

  • Place the document or object you want to scan on a flat surface with adequate lighting.

Take the Photo

  • Frame the document properly in the viewfinder and take a clear photo by tapping the shutter button.

Open the Photos App

  • After taking the photo, you’ll automatically be switched to the Photos app.

Crop the Scan (Optional)

  • You can crop or make adjustments to optimize the scanned image.

Tap the Scan Document Button

  • This uses OCR to detect document boundaries and perspective.

Name and Save the Scan

  • Give the scan a name and tap “Save” to complete the process.

Find Scans in the Photos App

  • All your scans are automatically saved to the Recents album for quick access.

Share and Use the Scan

  • Tap the share icon to email, message or export your scan in various formats.

And that’s it! By following these simple steps you can quickly scan on your iPhone in just a few taps. Next we’ll go over some pro tips for improving quality…

Optimizing Your Scans on iPhone

Following the basic steps will allow you to scan documents on your iPhone, but there are some tips you can use to really optimize quality:


Proper lighting is essential for scanning. Overhead lighting works much better than side lighting to avoid shadows. For best results, stand facing a window on an overcast day or position a lamp overhead. Avoid fluorescent lights which can cause glare or discoloration.

Document Positioning

Place the document on a solid, contrasting background before scanning. Dark colors like black or blue work best. Make sure the entire document lays flat – flatten any curled edges or folds. You may need to use a book or paperweight to properly flatten documents without holding them.

Reducing Glare

Turn off the flash on your iPhone camera. The flash can create unwanted glare and reflections, reducing legibility. Also, avoid scanning glossy documents like magazines or brochures which are prone to glare. If possible, convert documents to a matte paper finish before scanning.


Before capturing the photo, tap the viewfinder to adjust the focus until the document content is sharp and clear. The auto-focus doesn’t always focus properly on documents, so manual adjustment helps.


If you need to capture very fine details and small text accurately, increase the resolution. In the Camera app settings, go to Formats > High Efficiency and select the maximum megapixels available (usually 12MP on newer iPhones).


The Photos app has an auto-enhance button which can automatically improve image factors like exposure, contrast, saturation and red eye. This can help correct issues from improper lighting, shadows or glare.


Use the crop tool in Photos to remove any unwanted borders or edges around your scans. You can fine-tune the cropping to include only the desired document content.

File Format

When possible, save or export scans in PDF format rather than just photos. PDF maintains the text accuracy and document formatting better across devices.

By keeping these handy iPhone scanning optimization tips in mind, you can greatly improve the legibility, clarity and quality of your scans. Now let’s go over some advanced features…

Advanced Scanning Features on iPhone

Once you have the basics down, there are some more advanced features and settings to take your iPhone scanning to the next level:

Automating Scans

The Smart Scan feature in the Apple Notes app provides a quick way to automatically scan documents with one tap. It uses AI to detect edges, straighten, crop, and enhance the image without having to manually adjust anything. It’s great for quick scanning needs.

Customizing Scan Settings

When scanning using the Camera app, you can customize the scan output settings like resolution, file type, color filters and more. In the Scan Document screen, tap the Settings icon to adjust options like saving scans as PDFs, JPEGs, or other formats in different quality levels.

Photo Editing Tools

The Photos app has a powerful built-in image editor with tools to fine tune scans. You can adjust lighting with exposure, brilliance, and highlights options. Color can be corrected using white balance, saturation, or black point. You can also straighten crooked scans using the rotation tool.

Document Feeders

While you can scan one page at a time, document feeder accessories can make digitizing multi-page documents much easier. Feeders allow you to continuously feed pages through the scanner without having to position each one individually. This enables batch scanning of many documents efficiently.

Third-Party Scanning Apps

Apps like Scanner Pro provide advanced automation, editing, organization and sharing options for documents. Features include folder management, cloud storage integration, bulk exporting, and enhanced OCR for converting scans into editable formats.

Assistive Technologies

Apple’s built-in accessibility features like VoiceOver, Speak Screen, Switch Control, Touch Accommodations, and more can enhance iPhone scanning capabilities for users with disabilities. VoiceControl even allows scanning using just your voice.


To keep your scans secure, enable passcode locks on your iPhone, disable auto-backups to iCloud, and limit Photos access for other apps. You can also permanently delete sensitive scans when no longer needed.

There are many ways to optimize and tailor the iPhone scanning experience for your individual use cases and needs. Next let’s look at how to export and share scans…

Converting Scans into Editable Formats

A huge benefit of scanning on iPhone is the built-in ability to convert document images into a variety of editable digital formats:

  • OCR (Optical Character Recognition) – This technology detects text in your scans and converts it into editable word processing formats like Word docs, Pages files, and searchable multi-page PDFs. The text can then be copied, edited, formatted, and searched.
  • Native Photos Integration – Scans taken on iPhone are automatically imported directly into your device’s Photos library for quick access and organization. The Photos app makes basic edits, cropping, and annotations easy.
  • Built-in App Integrations – Apple apps like Notes, Mail, Messages, and more allow you to insert scans and work with the images seamlessly. Scanned documents can be attached to emails, annotated in Notes, or included in project documents.
  • Third-Party Applications – More advanced scanning apps provide OCR capabilities to convert your scans into Word, Excel, PowerPoint, searchable PDFs, plain text, and other document types while preserving formatting.
  • Cloud Storage Services – Scans can be uploaded and exported to cloud platforms like iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, etc for online access, sharing and collaboration.
  • AirPrint – Use AirPrint functionality to print your scans directly from iPhone to compatible wireless printers. This provides hard copies when needed.

The key benefit is that scans on your iPhone are not trapped in the camera roll as static images. With the built-in OCR capabilities and third-party apps, you can easily extract text, make edits, share, and export your scans in the most usable document formats.

Next we’ll provide some tips on maintaining privacy and security for your scans…

How to Scan on iPhone

Maintaining Scan Privacy and Security

When scanning sensitive documents and information, it’s important to take precautions to keep your data secure:

  • Set a Strong Passcode – Have an alphanumeric passcode lock enabled on your iPhone to prevent unauthorized access. Avoid weak passcodes.
  • Limit Photos Access – In iPhone settings, review and restrict which apps have access to your Photos media including scans. Disable access for apps that don’t need it.
  • Selective iCloud Backups – You can choose not to backup scans to iCloud by toggling off Camera Roll backup in iCloud settings. This prevents scans from being stored on Apple’s servers.
  • Delete Unneeded Scans – Make sure to manually delete any scans containing sensitive data from your Recently Deleted album after use. This ensures they are not recoverable.
  • Use Secure Networks – When scanning confidential documents, use a VPN connection and avoid public Wi-Fi networks to prevent data interception.
  • Encrypt Scans – For maximum security, you can encrypt scans by securing them in a password protected app or locked Notes.
  • Secure Cloud Storage – Services like iCloud offer secure encrypted cloud storage for housing scans if needed. Use caution with public cloud storage platforms.
  • Limit Metadata – Disable location data in Camera settings and remove metadata from scans when possible to protect potentially sensitive embedded information.
  • Airplane Mode – Engage airplane mode when scanning very sensitive documents to prevent any wireless transmission of data.

By being mindful of privacy risks and following security best practices you can safely scan sensitive information on your iPhone. Next we’ll go over some great options for sharing and exporting scans…

Sharing and Exporting Scans from iPhone

Once you’ve captured scans on your iPhone, there are many great options for exporting or sharing them:

  • Email – Send scans as email attachments directly from Photos. PDFs provide the most universal format.
  • Messages – Quickly share scans with contacts by texting from Photos. Useful for small documents.
  • AirDrop – Wirelessly transfer scans locally to Macs, iPads and other Apple devices on the same network.
  • Cloud Storage – Upload scans to services like iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox etc for online access and collaboration.
  • Document Management Apps – Apps like Scanner Pro allow managing, annotating and sharing scans.
  • Scan to Print – Use AirPrint functionality to print scans directly from your iPhone to compatible printers.
  • OCR Conversions – Convert scans into editable formats like Word, Pages, Excel, etc. for sharing.

With the built-in sharing features and third-party apps, getting your scans off your iPhone is seamless.

Next we’ll provide some final tips for mastering iPhone scanning…

Mastering iPhone Scanning: Final Tips and Tricks

With the fundamentals covered, here are some final pro tips and tricks for taking your iPhone scanning abilities to the next level:

Lighting Setup – Invest in proper overhead lighting and angles to optimize scan quality. Use diffused natural light near windows when possible. Avoid shadows and glare.

Backgrounds – A black or blue background provides needed contrast for scans. Tape white paper backgrounds onto surfaces for portability.

Flattening Documents – Use heavy books, paperweights, binder clips or tape folded documents completely flat before scanning for full page clarity.

Manual Focus – Tap to focus on an area of text or details you want sharp before capturing scan photos. Don’t rely on auto-focus.

Cleaning Camera Lens – Use a microfiber cloth to gently clean the iPhone camera lens regularly to avoid dirt impacting image quality.

Tripods – Use a compact tripod with an iPhone mount to allow scans with longer exposure and prevent blur from camera movement.

External Lenses – Add-on lenses like a macro lens can enable scanning of very small text and details not visible to the naked iPhone lens.

Batch Scanning – Utilize a motorized document feeder for efficiently digitizing large volumes of multi-page documents.

Scan Edges – For books or documents where edge information is important, use the panorama photo mode to capture details at the edges.

Built-in Notes Scanning – Use the integrated document scanning features in Apple’s Notes app for quick OCR capability.

Portable LED Lights – Carry small, rechargeable LED lights in bags to provide illumination when scanning on the go.

Voice Control – Use Apple’s Voice Control accessibility feature to scan hands-free using just your voice to take photos and optimize images.

Mobile Accessories – Devices like the CZUR Shine Ultra smart lamp provide an all-in-one portable scanning solution.

Linked Scanners – Connect a portable document scanner like the IRISCan Desk via USB for dedicated scanning power.

Follow these pro scanning tips and you’ll have mastered high-quality scanning in no time! Let’s recap some key takeaways…

Recommended Scanning Apps for iPhone

The native Camera and Notes apps provide great basic scanning capabilities, but third-party apps can add even more useful features:

Scanner Pro – Provides advanced editing, organization, and workflows. Great for managing documents and receipts.

Scanbot – Scans and organizes documents with optical character recognition and cloud services.

Microsoft Office Lens – Integrates directly with OneDrive, Word, Excel and PowerPoint for document workflows.

Adobe Scan – Enhanced image processing and document capture workflows powered by Adobe Sensei.

TinyScanner – Simple app great for quick everyday scanning tasks into PDFs.

Prizmo – Powerful scanning with AI-based OCR in 26 languages and iCloud integration.

Genius Scan – Intuitive app with smart cropping, document enhancements, sharing and printing.

PhotoScan by Google – Easily digitize printed photos without glare by taking a picture of a picture.

Newton Scanner – Great for scanning multi-page documents into beautifully rendered PDFs.

For best results, experiment with various top-rated scanning apps to find the right fit for your specific iPhone scanning needs.

Comparing iPhone Scanning vs Dedicated Scanners

While the iPhone provides impressive scanning power, here are some considerations when comparing to a traditional standalone document scanner:

  • Dedicated scanners are faster for high volume scanning.
  • Built-in feeders allow efficient back-to-back page scanning.
  • Larger scanning beds fit more document types.
  • Higher optical resolutions capture finer details and very small text.
  • Specialized document scanning software and workflows.

However, iPhone scanning provides significant benefits:

  • Always with you for scanning anywhere.
  • Very affordable using existing devices.
  • Compact, easy to use, and portable.
  • Ability to directly integrate scans into iOS apps and workflows.
  • Continued improvements and innovations to scanning capabilities with each OS update.

For moderate everyday scanning needs, the versatility and convenience of the iPhone makes it an excellent choice over traditional scanners. But for high volume needs, dedicated scanners still excel.

Scanning Tips for Business and Enterprise

Here are some key tips for effectively using iPhone scanning in business and enterprise environments:

  • Automate digitizing records, forms, receipts and other documents.
  • Use OCR techniques to convert scans into editable, searchable formats.
  • Develop standardized file naming conventions for organized access.
  • Build automated workflows for processing and routing scans.
  • Integrate scans into your document management system.
  • Use barcode scanning to capture additional metadata and details.
  • Develop departmental and role-based permissions for scan access.
  • Utilize scan management apps that offer user permissions, activity logs, etc.
  • Encrypt scans end-to-end and transmit over secure connections.
  • Train staff on creating quality scans for maximum legibility and accuracy.

Following best practices for digitizing business documents enables streamlined paperless workflows, improved productivity, better compliance and reduced costs.

Recommended iPhone Scanning Accessories

Certain accessories can enhance iPhone scanning capabilities:

  • Tripods – Provide stable camera positioning for crisp scans, especially in low light conditions.
  • LED lights – Portable external lighting ensures proper illumination and reduces shadows.
  • Macro lenses – Enable capturing fine details like small text and miniaturized images.
  • Page holders – Holds documents flat and in place for distortion-free scanning.
  • Document feeders – Allow efficient scanning of multi-page documents.
  • Battery packs – Provides extra juice for scanning large volumes untethered.
  • iPhone cases – Cases optimized for scanning offer angles for easier document capture.
  • Styluses – Allows precision control when cropping scans and annotating.
  • Scanning apps – Apps can unlock advanced custom workflows.

Choosing the right accessories tailored to your usage can take your iPhone scanning to the next level.


As seen throughout this guide, the humble iPhone is capable of highly impressive scan capabilities matching traditional scanners in many ways. With its ultra-portability, versatility, and continual improvements via iOS updates, the iPhone enables digital capture and digitization suited for everything from everyday needs to robust enterprise workflows.

By following the tips outlined, you can master high quality documents, photos, books and other scanning quickly from your iPhone. Imaging and OCR capabilities enable powerful post-scan editing, conversions, organization and sharing integrated with iOS apps. Just remember the basics – proper lighting, document positioning, manual focus, and resolution settings are key to optimizing the results.

So next time you need to capture and digitize printed materials, don’t run to the photocopier or bulky scanner – just reach for your iPhone. The ability to scan on iPhone provides convenience and productivity you can take anywhere.

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