Scanning documents isn't fun, but we all have to do it sometimes. Thankfully, using your Android device, you can quickly scan documents without any special equipment.
Next time you need to digitize a receipt for reimbursement, scan a government form so you can email it, or want to save business cards to your computer, here's a simple guide covering how to scan documents on Android.
The Simple Android Scanner Method: Google Drive
Android doesn't offer a built-in way to scan documents, so the easiest option is using the Google Drive app. Since it's installed on almost every Android device out of the box, it's as good as a default method.
Scanning with Google Drive also offers several benefits. As it uploads your scan to your Drive account, you don't have to remember to back up your documents manually. It's also easy to share your scans with family or colleagues by sending them a Drive link.
How to Scan Documents Using the Google Drive App
If you don't have the app already, install Google Drive from the Play Store, open the app, and sign into your Google account. On any of the app's tabs, tap the Plus button at the bottom-right of the screen to show the Create new panel. Choose Scan once this appears.
If this is your first time using Google Drive, you'll have to grant permission for the app to use your camera. Once you've done so, the camera will launch and allow you to snap a photo of the document you want to scan. Use the camera interface as normal to take this picture. Common options like zoom and a timer are available, if needed.
You'll see a preview of your photo; tap the redo button to try again, or the Check button if you're satisfied. After hitting the Check button, you'll have the option to make several edits to your scan.
Editing Your Scan in Google Drive
Google Drive offers four icons at the bottom of your scan page. From left to right, these are:
- Redo: Tap the arrow to scan the document again, which is useful if it came out blurry or similar.
- Color: The palette icon lets you choose between four color enhancement options. Black & White and Color are the most common, depending on whether your document has color. But you can try the other two to see if they improve the scan quality.
- Rotate: Use this to rotate the scan in 90-degree increments.
- Crop: Google Drive's scanner should automatically crop the scan to what it detects as the edges of your document. But in case it didn't get this right, use the Crop tool to adjust the edges yourself.
If you want to add additional scans, tap the Plus icon in the bottom-left corner to scan another document. Finally, there are a few options accessible using the three-dot menu at the top-right. Use Rename scan to change the generic name that uses the date and time.
There are a few options under Settings worth looking at, too. Image enhancement lets you set the default color enhancement. Paper Size lets you change the size of document the final PDF uses, while Paper Orientation can be Landscape or Portrait if you don't like the Automatic option.
Finally, change the Image Quality if you want higher-quality scans, or to drop the quality for smaller file sizes.
Viewing and Saving Scanned Documents in Google Drive
When you're all done, tap the Save button back on the main scan page. Here, you'll have a chance to change the document title if you haven't already, as well as pick which Google Drive account the file goes to (if you have multiple). Pick a Folder, and it will upload to Drive when you tap Save.
You can view the PDF in your Google Drive anytime. If you want to access it even without a network connection, tap the three-dot button on the file and choose Make available offline. You can also choose Download to save a local copy anywhere on your phone's storage.
How to Scan Documents on Android Using Microsoft Lens
While scanning documents on Android with Google Drive is easy, you might not like the app for whatever reason. Maybe you don't want to use a Google account, or perhaps you don't like the idea of every scan you make uploading to the cloud.
In that case, there are tons of mobile document scanner apps worth using. We'll highlight one of the best: Microsoft Lens. It's a simple Android document scanner that lets you easily save your scans as local files, which fixes the biggest hangup with Google Drive.
Install Microsoft Lens, then open it to start. During the brief intro, you'll see some basic info about the app and will be asked to grant permission to your photos and camera. Once you've done this, Lens lets you jump right into scanning.
Microsoft Lens Scanning Modes
Unlike Google Drive, Lens provides modes for scanning different types of media. Along the bottom, you can switch to Whiteboard, Document, Actions, Business Card, or Photo. Most of these are self-explanatory, except for Actions, which houses several tools.
Inside Actions, you can use the sub-menu to choose from the following OCR tools:
- Text: Extract the text from a picture so you can copy or share it.
- Table: Grabs a printed table from an image.
- Read: Speaks text in your image out loud.
- Contact: Grabs the info from a business card and saves it to a contact on your phone.
- QR Code: Scan a QR code with your phone to open the information it holds. This isn't OCR, but it's grouped into the same menu.
Capturing and Editing Using Microsoft Lens
No matter which mode you're using, scanning the document is the same: just point your camera at it and snap a picture as usual. For best results, use a background that contrasts with the document you're scanning, and hold your phone right above the media for the cleanest capture.
After capturing with Lens, you can adjust the borders in case the app doesn't detect them properly. Once you hit Confirm, you'll see a page with all sort of options.
Add opens the scanner so you can add more images to the document. Use Filters to modify the look of the image, then Crop and Rotate if it doesn't look right.
Under More, you can select Ink to draw on the document, Text to overlay typed text, or Reorder to rearrange the items in a scan. When you're happy, tap Done to move on.
Saving and Uploading With Lens
Now, you can choose where to save your scanned file. Adjust the Title at the top, then check the box for every location you want to save the file to. Your Gallery is selected by default, which saves the scan as an image.
But you can also save the scan to a PDF in your OneDrive, an OCR document in Word, or other Microsoft apps like OneNote and PowerPoint. These aren't necessary, but if you already use Microsoft Office products, they'll make your workflow more efficient.
Tap Save when done, and your Android scan is complete. You'll find it in the Office Lens folder on your phone, which should appear in your Gallery app.
Scanning Documents Made Easy With Android
You have a handy PDF scanner right on your Android phone. Next time you have to scan something, save the trip to the library or getting a home scanner. It's easy to use these two Android document scanner apps to capture and modify documents.
This isn't the only kind of scanning your phone can do, though. Did you know your phone can scan barcodes to learn more about them?