How to Scan From Printer to Computer

Scanning made simple to your Windows or Mac device

Many modern printers aren’t simply printers but might be “multi-purpose” or "all-in-one" devices. This means they not only print but are also scanners and faxes. In this article, we’ll explore the scanner function: specifically, how to capture a document scan from a printer to your Windows PC or Mac.

These instructions will work on Windows 10, as well as macOS 11 (Big Sur). The instructions require that the drivers are installed and your printer is already in working order.

Capturing a Scan From a Printer on a Windows PC

Your printer model may come with software including not only its drivers but also a suite of programs to use all the device’s functionality. If this is the case, then within those programs there's also likely a scanning program.

But if your model didn’t come with such software, or you prefer to use in-built OS functions when possible, these instructions are for you. Take the following steps to capture your scan using tools included with a standard Windows installation.

  1. Open the Start Menu, and seach for the Scan app.

  2. Alternately, press Win+x to call the Power User Menu.

    The Windows "Power User" Menu
  3. Select Settings.

  4. Select Devices from the main Settings screen.

    The Windows 10 Settings App Home Screen with Devices highlighted
  5. Next, click Printers & Scanners.

    The Windows 10 Settings App Devices Screen with Printers & Scanners highlighted
  6. Click on your desired printer, then click Manage.

    The Windows 10 Settings App Printers & scanners Screen with Manage highlighted
  7. If the printer is a multi-function device, it will include a dropdown menu. Select the entry starting with Scanner.

    The Windows 10 Settings App Printer Configuration Screen with Scanner function highlighted
  8. Click Open Scanner, which will also open the Scan Windows app.

    The Windows 10 Settings App Scanner Configuration Screen with Open Scanner highlighted
  9. Arrange your document’s page(s) either on the flatbed or in the feeder, making sure they’re aligned correctly.

  10. Click the Scan button in the app.

    The Windows 10 Scan App with the Scan button highlighted

The Scan app’s Source setting dictates if it will scan from the device’s document feeder (if there is one), or from the flatbed. Unless you know you need to change it, it’s a good idea to leave this set on Auto. Document feeders typically have a lever to detect if there are pages inside, and leaving this set to Auto will scan from the feeder if there’s something loaded, and the flatbed otherwise. Note that when scanning with the flatbed, you’ll need to scan one page at a time.

Your scan will automatically be saved in the Scans sub-directory of your standard Pictures folder. It will be saved in PNG format by default, and named “Scan” appended with a date stamp (e.g. “Scan_20210614.PNG”).

Capturing a Scan From a Printer on a Mac

Scanning from a Mac is just as easy as on Windows 10 (arguably, even easier).

  1. Open the Apple menu, and select System Preferences.

  2. Click Printers & Scanners.

    The macOS System Preferences Screen with Printers & Scanners highlighted
  3. Select your printer, then click Scan.

    The macOS System Preferences Printers & Scanners Screen with Scan button highlighted
  4. Click Open Scanner.

    The macOS System Preferences Scan Dialog with Open Scanner highlighted
  5. In the Scanner program, you can select the folder to which your scans will be saved by making a select in the Scan to dropdown (shown as Pictures in the below image).

    The macOS Scanner Application with the Picture folder highlighted
  6. To the right, the Size dropdown menu (shown as US Letter in the above screenshot) will also let you choose the size of the item.

  7. If your scanner has a document feeder and you want to use it, select Use Document Feeder.

  8. Clicking on Show Details will display a number of additional options, as follows: Scan Mode (Flatbed or Document Feeder), Kind (Text, Black & White, or Color), Resolution (quality of the image in DPI), Rotation Angle (to change the rotation of the saved image), Auto Selection (which can try to detect multiple items on the flatbed and save them separately, for example), Name, Format, and Image Correction (which provides options to adjust coloring).

    The macOS Scanner Application Scanning a Document with Details highlighted
  9. Click Scan to start your scanning job.

FAQ
  • How do I scan a document to PDF format?

    If you're using Windows 10, open Windows Fax and Scan and select New Scan. Select the Profile drop-down, choose Document, then select the scanner type, such as Flatbed or Feeder. Select Scan. When your document finishes scanning, select File > Print. Click the Printer drop-down and choose Microsoft Print to PDF, then click Print and choose a save location. If you're using a Mac, open a new Finder window and select Go > Applications > Image Capture. Select your scanner, scanner type, and destination folder. Select Format > PDF, then click Scan.

  • How do I scan a document from my printer to my email?

    Many scanners offer a scan-to-email function. For example, on a Brother printer, load and scan your document, as usual, then select Send Email. Configure your settings and click OK. Your default email program will send the scanned document. If your scanner doesn't have this function, scan the document to PDF format (for the most flexibility), then save it to your desired location on your computer. Then, open your email program and send the scanned document or image as an attachment.

  • How do I scan a document with an iPhone?

    Open the Notes app on your iPhone and create a new Note. Then tap the Camera icon and choose Scan Documents. Position the document in your camera's view. Let Notes automatically focus and capture the image, or manually tap the shutter button. Drag the handles to crop the scan, then select Keep Scan when you're finished.

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