How to Scan a Document in Windows

Follow these steps for scanning documents in Windows 10, 8, or 7

There are two ways to scan a photo or document into your Windows computer: with a dedicated scanner or with a multi-function printer (MFP) that contains a scanner.

These instructions apply to a standalone scanner or MFP using the built-in Windows Fax and Scan software on Windows 10, 8, or 7.

Before we get started, we're going to presume you've already attached your scanner or MFP to your computer, and you've tested the connection to confirm that your devices are working correctly.

A person scanning a document on a flatbed scanner.
Scanning a document in Windows is a simple process. mhong84/iStock

Open Windows Fax and Scan Program

Windows Fax and Scan in search results

The quickest and easiest way to open Windows Fax and Scan is to search for it. Type "Windows Fax" in the search bar and select it in the search results.

In Windows 10, the search bar is right next to the Start button. In previous versions of Windows, the search bar might be inside the Start menu.

If you'd rather not search, Windows Fax and Scan is available via the Start menu in every version of Windows:

Windows 10: Start > Accessories

Windows 8: Start Screen > Apps

Windows 7: Start > ​All Programs

Using Windows Fax and Scan Program

Screenshot of Windows Fax and Scan

Windows Fax and Scan looks the same on Windows 7, 8, and 10 because Microsoft hasn’t updated the interface of the program since introducing it in Windows Vista. No matter what version of Windows you use, follow these instructions to scan a document or photo on your MFP or standalone scanner:

  1. Turn on your scanner or MFP if you haven’t already.
  2. Select New Scan in the blue toolbar. The New Scan window appears after a few seconds.
  3. In the Select Device window, select the scanner you want to use.
  4. Select OK.
  5. In the New Scan window, change any of the scanner and scanning options (such as the file format you want to save to) on the left side of the window.
  6. Select Preview to preview the scan in the window.
  7. Scan the document by choosing Scan.

How to Scan Using Scanned Documents

Screenshot of Save As in Windows Fax and Scan

After your scanner scans the document, it appears within the document pane in the Windows Fax and Scan window. Scroll up and down within the pane to view the entire scanned document.

Now you can decide what you can do with the document by clicking on one of the options from left to right within the blue menu bar at the top of the window:

  • Select Forward as Fax to fax the scanned document to one or more recipients within Windows Fax and Scan.
  • Select Forward as E-Mail to send the scanned document as a file attachment in an e-mail message that you can send to one or more people.

After you choose this option, a new message window appears within your preferred email program with the file attached so you can address, type, and send your message.

  • Select Save As to open the Save As window so you can save the document with another name, in another ​graphics file format, or in another folder.

Even if you don’t do anything with the document or photo you scanned, Windows Fax and Scan saves your scan automatically as a file so you can view past scans at any time when you open the program.

View a file by selecting the document or photo name within the file list. The scanned text or photo appears in the document pane, so you can confirm that the file contains what you expect. Then you can perform any sending or saving tasks I discussed earlier.