How to Scan Documents With Your iPad

Replace a scanner with the Notes app

What to Know

  • Open a note in the Notes app. Tap Camera > Scan Document. Hold the iPad over the document.
  • In Auto mode, the scan is automatic. Tap Save to place the scan in a note or tap the thumbnail to review it.
  • In Manual mode, frame the document in the viewfinder and press the Shutter button.

This article explains how to scan documents using the Notes app on an iPad running iOS 11 or later, plus what to do after you scan.

How to Scan Documents With the iPad Notes App

Beginning with iOS 11, Apple added scanning capability to the Notes app. With it, you can capture a document and save it to your iPad in PDF format. Here's how:

  1. Position the document on a flat surface in good light and preferably against a contrasting background.

  2. Open the Notes app.

  3. Tap the pen and paper icon to create a new note (or select an existing note).

    The New Note icon highlighted in the iPad Notes app
  4. Tap the camera icon at the top of the screen and select Scan Documents to open the Camera app in Auto Mode inside the Notes app.

    In iOS 11 and iOS 12, tap the plus sign (+) to launch the camera for the scan.

    The Camera icon in the Notes app with Scan Documents highlighted
  5. Position the iPad over the document in the camera viewer. The iPad detects the document (indicated by a yellow box) and scans it automatically in this mode.

  6. Tap Save to add the scan to the Note or tap the thumbnail image at the bottom of the screen to review the scan.

    A scanned document in the Notes app with thumbnail highlighted
  7. If you open the thumbnail, select Retake if you don’t like what you see and want to try again or Done to add the scan to the Note.

    Done and Retake options in thumbnail image

    When in Auto Mode, the iPad continues to take pictures as you hold it over a document with only a slight pause. Move the iPad view off the image to stop it.

  8. If you prefer more control than the automatic option gives you, tap Manual to change to Manual mode before framing the document with the camera.

  9. Press the shutter icon or one of the volume icons to manually scan the document.

    Note scanning manual move with shutter button highlighted
  10. As with the Auto Mode, choose Save or tap the thumbnail image to preview it. From the thumbnail image, tap Retake or Done.

  11. Go to the Notes app to see the document scan in the note you designated.

    The iPad Notes app showing the scanned document

After the Scan

After you save the document as a PDF, you can do anything with it that you can do with a regular note or PDF. Tap the scan to open it and use the tools in the top right corner to crop, rotate, use markup, print or share the document.

Scanned document with Share menu displayed

Scanning Apps for Older iPads

If your iPad runs on iOS 10 or earlier, the Notes app doesn't include scanning capability, but you can download one of the many scanning apps that are available for this purpose. They include:

  • Scanner Pro delivers a good combination of affordability and reliability for iOS users.
  • SwiftScan is an excellent choice for those who want a free, basic scanner.
  • DocScan has a user-friendly interface that's easy to pick up and start using.
  • Genius Scan specializes in creating multi-page PDF files out of the documents you scan.
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