Your iPhone Has a Paper Scanner that You Can’t See. Here’s How to Use It!

how to scan on iphone

If you don’t have one of those fancy all-in-one printers with a scanner, being asked to sign, scan, and send a paper can seem impossible. Not to mention a job from a decade ago. But you may already be holding a scanner: your iPhone or iPad.

I don’t mean taking a picture of a paper and then cropping it. That would be more work than it’s worth. Use the iPhone’s document scanner, which is hidden in the Notes app. In 2017, Apple added the feature to iOS 11, but if you don’t use the Notes app, you won’t know it’s there.

Below, I’ll show you where to find the scanner, how to use it, and some general tips for making the most of the hidden tool.

How to use your iPhone or iPad to scan a paper?

Put the document(s) on a flat, well-lit surface. Open the Notes app and either make a new note or read one that’s already been made. I made a folder called “Scannered Documents” where I can put everything I’ve scanned and find it quickly.

Tap the camera button and then Scan Documents while a note is open.

The camera will open on your iPhone or iPad, and there will be a button to take a picture near the bottom of the screen. Don’t push it yet. Follow the instructions on your computer instead. Hold your device right above the paper to get the best results.


how to scan on iphone

As soon as the camera starts to scan and look for the paper, a yellow box will show up. You’ll see tips like “get closer” as your device searches for the edges and sides of the paper.

Once it knows what the whole document is, it will scan it immediately. You can press the shutter button if your iPhone is having trouble finding the document.

In the bottom-left area of each page, you’ll see a small thumbnail, and the scanner will stay open so you can keep scanning more pages. When you’re done, tap Save.

Change Things to Get the Best Scan

After you scan the document, you can make changes like defining the sides if the scan isn’t quite right, changing the color scheme, rotating the document, or adding more pages.

how to scan on iphone

Tap on the document to open it, and you’ll see all the editing tools at the bottom of the screen. Use the crop tool to change the corners or cut out a part of the document if you don’t want that information to be there.

I’ve found that the best way to use the crop tool is to put your finger near the small circle in each corner of the document, which can also be used as a magnifying glass. That will let you see your changes better instead of hiding them.

Your Scanned Paper Can Be Signed, Shared, or Saved

Now that you’ve scanned and fixed a document, you can do a few things with it. You can save it in the Notes app for future use, or you can sign it and send it to someone else.

how to scan on iphone

When reading a document, tap the share button in the top right corner of the screen to bring up the share sheet. Scroll down past the app’s quick links and tap Markup to add your name.

You can draw, write, add text, or sign your name with the marking tool. By tapping the “+” sign, you can see all of the tools.

When you’re done signing or making notes on the document, you can share it, save it to the Files app, or treat it like any other document on your iPhone or iPad.

Now that you know about Apple’s hidden scanner tool, check out the other hidden features we’ve found in iOS 14.

If you’d rather work with a scanned document on your Mac, here’s how to scan it with your iPhone and send it straight to your Mac. Check out this for more general but very useful iOS 14 tips.