How to Scan Documents with Notes App on iPhone & iPad

Jan 21, 2020 - 7 Comments

How to scan documents with Notes app on iPhone and iPad

Did you know you can scan documents with the Notes app by using your iPhone or iPad camera? Scanning documents is a great way of removing your reliance on paper and it makes it easier to find things in your digital life, too. The Notes app on iPhone and iPad is perfectly suited to the task and you already have it on your device. Here, we’re going to run through how to scan documents with the iPhone and iPad Notes app.

While you might be using the Notes app to keep tabs on your shopping list or make notes in meetings, you probably aren’t already using it to scan and save your documents. And that’s a shame because it’s great at doing exactly that. And with iCloud quietly syncing everything across your devices your documents will always be there in Notes app when you need them.

How to Scan Documents into Notes App on iPhone & iPad

  1. Open the Notes app if you haven’t done so already, then either create a new note or open an existing one.
  2. Tap the camera icon in the Notes toolbar
  3. Tap the Camera icon in the Notes app to scan a document

  4. Tap the “Scan Documents” button.
  5. Position the document in the viewfinder. The app will automatically take a shot when it’s ready. If you want to manually start the scan, tap the shutter button. You will then be able to manually adjust the edges of the document as well. In that case tap “Keep Scan” and proceed.
  6. Place the document in the viewfinder that you want to scan

  7. If you need to scan more pages, repeat the process. If not, tap the “Save” button.

You’ve just successfully scanned a document and saved it to a note in the Notes app.

Assuming you’ve scanned something into Notes stored on iCloud, the scanned documents will then sync over to your other devices sharing the same Apple ID and iCloud account, whether that’s a Mac, iPhone, iPad, or any combination of those.

You can also directly scan documents into the Files app on iPhone and iPad, if that’s something you’d prefer. And you can even use the Continuity camera feature on Mac to scan using an iPhone camera and discussed here, which can be really handy if you’re needing to scan a document into a computer.

Scanning documents into Notes app with an iPhone or iPad is essentially the same regardless of which device you’re using, although the better your devices camera, the better the scans will be.

This particular feature has been available for Notes app users on iPhone and iPad for several versions now, so even if you’re not running the absolute latest release of iOS or iPadOS you may still have the scanning ability available within the Notes application. And of course when you do update to a later system release, your scanned notes will come along for the ride.

Do you try to avoid using paper, preferring instead to keep documents digitally? If so, we’d love to know what your current paperless setup is and whether Notes is part of that. Now that you know how to scan documents and save them in Notes, will you make more use of it? Let us know down in the comments.


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Posted by: Oliver Haslam in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Robin says:

    Explain using OCR in Notes please. iOS 13.4.1 on iPhone X.

  2. Franco says:

    OCR is there, search in your note and scanned document containing the search term will be shown as a result. So yes there is OCR but I did not find a way to export it.

  3. Franco says:

    @Susie and @Dick

    on my iPhone X, after the “scan” is done. In the list of all note, I can search for a word in the picture and note will find it and show you the note. So OCR is there and done, but I dont know how to get all the text.

  4. Becky Ligon says:

    I am running ios 13.3 on my iphone 8+ and I do not have the “picture” icon when I create a new note or look a an old note.


  5. Susie says:

    This was very exciting — until I realized it was just taking a photo of the image; the text in the scan is not searchable, drastically reducing its value — nor can segments be copied and pasted. The OCR (optical character recognition) function, often included with true scanners, would be an awesome addition to vastly improve the usefulness!

  6. barbara says:

    Perfect timing! My scanner wasn’t working and I needed to scan a very long receipt (about 30″ long) – using this feature in Notes it scanned as a PDF, saved in Notes. It’s not the same as a photograph in my opinion. 578kb isn’t bad and I was able to send it on like I needed to do.
    Thanks for the great info!

  7. Dick Warner says:

    In my jargon, this isn’t scanning a document; it’s just taking a photo of it. Photos use a lot more memory than text. Please add how to do OCR on the resulting photos.

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