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How To Scan A Document With Your iPhone


Jack is a volunteer at the CCNY Archives. Before retiring, he worked at IBM for over 28 years. His articles have over 120,000 views.



Recently, I found some old paper documents that I want to include in my memoir. I needed an easy way to capture the information and post them onto HubPages. I did a little research and found a few methods which I would like to share. Perhaps, others could use my experience.

-Dec. 2015

A Few Options

There are several options depending what you are trying to achieve. All you need is an iPhone or iPad and some free apps. There are some optional accessories that will make the process easier but will cost a bit.

Option 1: Scan a document as an image (jpg format)

Option 2: Scan a document to a PDF file (PDF image)

Option 3: Scan a text document to a Word file (.docx format) includes OCR

Option 1 Scan to JPG Image

Tool: iPhone and Camera App.

Document content: text and image

Pro: Image file is easy to work with, color is preserved.

Con: Resolution may be poor and text hard to read and contrast may be off.

How to do it:

Place document on a flat surface in ambient light. Use the camera app and capture the page. Touch the screen on a few spots to check the focus and brightness. Capture the document. Next, email the image as an attachment (choose the large resolution size) and send. You may need to rotate the image using the edit function before sending. On the Mac, receive the file and the attachment as an image file to a local folder.

In HubPages, create a photo module, and choose the file to embed.

Sample Document from Option 1


Option 2 PDF Format

Tool: iPhone, Tiny Scanner Apps. and Preview app on the Mac.

Pro: Scan and clean image (clear background) and choice of contrast.

Con: Black and White only.

How to do it:

Use the Tiny Scanner app on the iPhone. It is free to install from the Apps Store. Capture the document, select the contrast. Email the PDF file to your email account. On the Mac, save the file to a folder. Use the Preview app on the Mac and open the PDF file, then export to convert to JPG format. Embed to HubPages photo module. Notice the improved contrast.

Sample Document from Option 2


Option 3 Word Format (OCR)

Tools: iPhone, Office Lens app (free from Microsoft), OneDrive.

Pro: Free OCR convert to Word format. (.docx)

Con: Require account with Microsoft Office (must sign in to use) and slower processing time and lost of formatting of original.

How to do it:

Use the Office Lens app to capture the document. Save the output file to OneDrive. Email file as attachment to email account. Save the file to a folder on the Mac. Open the file with Microsoft Word. You can edit the text and use copy and paste into a HubPages text module. Notice only the text is captured (no graphics, images or signature).

Sample Option 3 Word Format (text)


January 28, 1999

Dear Jack,

Congratulations on celebrating 25 years with IBM.

Your many years of dedicated service, and the wisdom which you have developed, have been of enormous value to IBM and to the Research Division. I want you to know how much I appreciate your contributions.

Please accept my best wishes for the future.



Some Accessories

A Scan Jig will cost about $40 but will make the process easier and faster. If you have a large number of pages to convert, this is definitely the way to go. I like the ScanJig model as shown because it is portable and it is adjustable.

There is also an app called Cam Scanner that is great for capture documents into PDF format. It does cost $4.99 per month for the upgrade in order to take advantage of the OCR feature.




I found the iPhone to be a great substitution for a tabletop scanner. In most cases, the quality will suffice and it is much easier to work with. It is also a great time saver. I hate to re-type old documents when I can just scan it and OCR to text. Let me know if this was helpful.

  • Portable Scan Stand For Mobile Devices
    ScanJig Pro - Scan documents with iPhone, iPad, Android Devices - Get High Quality Images - Accurate Text Recognition OCR - Great Tool for the Visually Impaired

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Jack Lee

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