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How to Turn Your iPad Into an Office Scanner

The office scanner, as we’ve come to know it, may be becoming a thing of the past. After all, who needs a big clunky machine taking up space when an iPad can scan documents with ease and do it better while also offering extra features?

Here’s how to turn your iPad into an office scanner.

How it Works

Document scanning is accomplished using the back-facing camera on the iPad. The scanning app cuts the document out from the rest of the picture, so you get only the page you want to scan, not the pen that happens to be sitting right next to it. Before it takes the picture, the scanner app shows you the grid it will use to cut the document out of the overall picture. This grid can be edited, so you can resize it if it doesn’t quite get the whole document in.

The camera on the iPad will adjust automatically to make sure the text on the page is readable. For the best scanning results, it’s important to wait until the words on the page are focused and easy to read.

The Apps

The apps on the following list are far better than the outmoded office scanners of the past. That’s because they will allow you to edit, fax and even save documents to the cloud. One of these scanning apps will even read the document back to you.

Scanner Pro is easily the best of the iPad scanners because it’s the right combination of price and dependability. Scanner Pro is easy to use, makes great copies and has in-app purchases for faxing. The $2.99 price tag makes it one of the least expensive scanner apps among the “pro” editions.

You can scan anything paper, from a receipt to a multi-page document. Scanner Pro automatically detects borders and corrects distortion and geometry and you can use Optical Character Recognition (OCR), to convert any scan into text.

After the document is scanned, you can email it or upload it to Dropbox, Evernote and/or other cloud services. If you also have an iPhone, scanned documents will automatically be synced among your devices.

Prizmo has additional features that are nonessential but very attractive. Besides scanning documents and storing them through different cloud services, Prizmo can create an editable document from your scan. If you want to capture the text of a document and make a few quick changes, this can be an important feature. Prizmo also has text-to-speech abilities, so it can read your documents to you, as well as scan them. It costs $9.99.

Scanbot is packed with a lot of great features and is an excellent choice if you just want a basic scanner with the ability to save to cloud services without paying for anything.

The pro version of Scanbot give you the ability to edit documents, add signatures, add your own notes to a text or even lock them with a password, but the free version is enough for many users.

Scanbot is a good choice if all you need to do is scan a document and save it to iCloud or Dropbox. One neat feature of the app is that is does the scanning for you. That is, rather than having to wait until the text becomes clear and taking a picture of your document, Scanbot senses when the page is in focus and takes the photo automatically. With just one tap you can create free, high-quality PDF or JPG scans and send the files via email or upload them to a cloud service.

Scanbot is free but you can buy the pro edition as a $4.99 in-app purchase.

Doc Scan HD is the app with the best interface of the bunch and that makes it very easy to pick up and start using. Free features include both scanning and editing. If you need to add a signature to a document, this app is a good choice. Email documents or save them to your camera roll for free. If you want to save them to a cloud service, you’ll need to purchase the pro version.

Doc Scan HD is free but you can purchase the pro version as an in-app purchase for $3.99.

Genius Scan specializes in creating multi-page PDF files out of the documents you scan. The free version of Genius Scan is limited on where you can export documents to, but it does allow you to transfer them to “other apps.” If you set up Dropbox or another cloud service right, you can use one of them to get your document to your cloud drive using the free version.

Genius Scan is free with an in-app purchase of the pro version for $6.99