Monday, July 27, 2020

Free iPhone Scanning App

I know I've heard about scanning apps for mobile devices before but I always preferred to use a full sized flatbed scanner for when I need to scan something in to save for genealogy sources. The problem is that there are times when I didn't anticipate needing my scanner so I didn't bring it and my only option is to take a photograph of the document or photo or miss saving it completely. Overall, taking a photo works okay but you always end up having it at a slight angle or saving things only as image files. I found an app today that has been around for a long time. In fact, it's been on the iPhone for as long as I've had one.

I had decided to try out a scanning app for my iPhone but when it immediately came up asking me to buy it, I just deleted it. When it comes to apps, I'm cheap. I really don't like to spend money on apps for my phone. So I just never bothered with any scanning app. Then today, someone on a Facebook genealogy page pointed out that the "Notes" app that comes loaded on your iPhone will scan documents for free. I don't know how long this feature has been available in Notes but it has to be since at least January of this year because I found an article talking about this when I researched it.

I immediately tried it out and "Holy Cow!" That's quick and easy! On top of that, it will automatically stretch your image, based on how you mark it, so that it's squared up when you view it and not skewed at an angle.

Pick up your iPhone and launch the "Notes" app.
Once it's open, start a new note and click the camera icon. You may have to first hit "Done" in the upper right corner to see the camera icon.
Select "Scan Documents"
Point your phone at the document you want to scan and take a photo. For my example, I pulled out my copy of Nathan Dillon Goodwin's latest Morton Farrier, Forensic Genealogist book, "The Sterling Affair". These are great books, by the way. I highly recommend them! For my example, I intentionally took the photo at an odd angle to demonstrate the straightening of the scan.
Once you take the photo, touch "Use Photo".

Next, drag the circles showing at each corner onto the corners of your document.
Once you have all four lined up the best you can, click "Keep Scan". And voila!
Your document is lined up as if you perfectly aligned it while taking the photo. You can then click the share icon, which is the square with the arrow pointing up, which is in the upper right hand corner, and send it however you'd like. I like to email it to myself as a pdf. Then I log in to my email from my laptop and save it to my genealogy folders.

What handy tech hacks do you use that most people might not know about? This one seems so obvious yet I did not know about it when I woke up this morning. I'd bet there are a lot of others out there waiting to be shared!



  1. Thanks ever so much for sharing!

  2. If you turn on the camera grid on an iPhone (Settings > Camera > Grid), then when you take a regular photo pointing down at a document/book on a table, then two crosshairs will appear. Line them up to have the photo taken exactly straight down.

  3. Thank You! This is the only way I learn new technology. I really don’t like technology (I do but don’t) because I feel old and uneducated, them panic at thought of any change, all the time, even though I know it’s necessary.