Photo (cc) by Alan Cleaver
Last month, I ordered a copy of my 5-year-old’s birth certificate from the county — for the third time.
It’s not that I didn’t keep the first two copies. It’s that when the school officials said they needed one, it seemed easier to order it online than spend what could be hours sorting through the sea of paperwork in my house.
Maybe you can relate.
However, there really is no reason for me (or you) to be drowning in paperwork. So many apps exist today that let you scan, sort and store your documents in the cloud. Then you can pull out the shredder and empty your paper files.
Now, you certainly don’t want to get rid of important, original documents, such as birth certificates, life insurance policies or power of attorney forms. However, you can scan and shred all the less important stuff – from the recipes you’ve been collecting to your bank statements – and that will make it easier to file and find whatever is left.
Ready to find your match? I know I am. Let’s take a look at what are considered to be some of the best scanning apps.
1. Evernote Scannable
You might already be familiar with Evernote, and its Scannable app makes it easy to take physical documents and transfer them to the cloud. Snap a photo with your phone and watch as documents are automatically enhanced for easy readability and then converted to .pdf files. Then you can add notes and send the file off to your Evernote account or export it to another service. Documents can also be emailed or texted.
While Evernote Scannable is only available for Apple devices, users on other platforms can choose the document option when taking photos in the original Evernote app. In theory, this will let you move documents to the cloud, but you can’t convert files to .pdf, which is a bit limiting.
2. Google Drive
If you already use Gmail and Google Docs, this might be the most logical scanner for you. Android users can snap photos of documents, which are then converted to .pdf files and uploaded to Google Drive. You can scan multiple-page documents in the same file and, once uploaded, you can convert those pages to a single-page layout and add annotations.
While a Google Drive app is available for Apple devices, it apparently doesn’t include the scan function.
Price for app: Free for 200 MB of storage; $1.99 for 400 MB of storage
Price for account: Free for basic account; $4.99 per month for premium account
Platforms: Android, Apple, Windows
To make the most of CamScanner, you’ll want both the app and an account on the company’s website. The free app and account are limited in that you only get 200 MB of storage and can’t do much beyond scanning and storing documents on CamScanner. If you want to be able to make notes, automatically upload to a cloud storage service or work with multiple pages, you need a premium account. The premium account also gives you 10 GB of storage and lets you collaborate with up to 50 people on a document.
4. Office Lens
Platform: Android, Apple, Windows
For Microsoft fans, Office Lens is a simple scanning app that allows you to easily convert documents, photos and whiteboards into Word documents, PowerPoint presentations or .pdf files. Files can then be added to OneNote or uploaded to your OneDrive cloud storage. In addition, information from business cards can be used to update your phone’s contacts.
Price: Free for basic, $3.99 for Pro
Platform: Android, Apple, Windows, Blackberry
Look Blackberry users, here’s one for you!
ScanWritr comes in two versions: regular and pro. Both have edge detection and image enhancement to make it easy to scan your documents. Then you can input text, convert to .pdf files and upload to your cloud storage. There are also editing, printing, faxing and other sharing options.
The free version of the app has ads, a five-page export limit and places a watermark on your documents. If you want to ditch the ads, watermark and document limitations, spring for the pro version.
6. Scanner Pro
You have to pay for this app, but it gets rave reviews about the quality of its scans. Scanner Pro straightens images and eliminates shadows and defects before converting to .pdf files. Then you can save, share or upload your documents. Printing and faxing are also options. You can also use the app’s Scan Radar feature to search your phone’s photo library for other documents that may be hiding out there.
Price: Free for basic; $4.99 for Pro features
Platform: Android, Apple, Amazon
One last app to mention is Scanbot. It promises to scan documents at the same level of quality you’d expect from a desktop scanner. The free app will auto detect edges, change document perspective for easy reading and auto upload .jpeg and .pdf files to cloud storage providers. It can also work with multiple pages.
However, if you want edit and sign, text recognition and search functions, you’ll have to buy pro features, which are available as an in-app purchase.
So those are seven of the most popular scanning apps available. Do you use one? Or do you have another favorite we should know about?
Tell us which app you like in the comments below or on our Facebook page.