Turn Your Phone into a Document Scanner for Free

Rick Broida, author of the Cheapskate Blog, has an article today that will interest many genealogists. He describes using software that will turn your “smartphone” into the equivalent of a desktop scanner. It works well for digitizing one side of one piece of paper at a time. It isn’t so convenient when digitizing both sides of multi-page documents although that can still be accomplished by using additional software to merge the pages together after scanning.

Actually, I have been doing exactly what Rick describes for years and have had very good experiences with using my cell phone as a substitute scanner. I use it in genealogy libraries, archives, or for digitizing receipts, eyeglass prescriptions, business cards, and most anything else that is worth saving. I agree with Rick’s experiences.

I still use a dedicated scanner whenever possible. However, I don’t always have the scanner with me at the time I want to make a digital copy. In those cases, I use the cell phone as a substitue scanner.

You can read Rick Broida’s article at http://cnet.co/2vWyiwp.

I will also invite you to look at http://bit.ly/2vWadpP for a list of some of my past articles about using an iPhone or Android phone as a scanner substitute.

9 Comments

Hopeless in Seattle August 11, 2017 at 7:00 pm

I’m hesitant to upgrade from my flip phone as I have photos of my parents and voice of my mom on it from shortly before they died
in their late 80s.

Would someone clarify the difference between an i phone and an android?

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    —> Would someone clarify the difference between an i phone and an android?

    An iPhone is made by Apple and runs Apple’s software, called iOS.

    An Android phone is made by any of a number of manufacturers and runs the Android software that was developed by Google.

    The two are direct competitors. Each has a number of advantages and disadvantages when compared to the other phones but, overall, both the iPhone and the Android phones have roughly the same capabilities. There are many minor differences, however.

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Hopeless in Seattle August 11, 2017 at 9:05 pm

Must I have virus protection on either one? Is one “safer” than the other?

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    —> Must I have virus protection on either one?

    Virus protection is almost mandatory on any Windows computer. However, viruses are rare on cell phones. Most cell phone users never install anti-virus software. For details, see https://www.extremetech.com/computing/104827-android-antivirus-apps-are-useless-heres-what-to-do-instead

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    Many companies offer virus protection for smartphones but whether you need it is a matter of debate, at least until smartphone malware attacks become more widespread. But if you use your phone to connect to public Wi-Fi when you’re out and about you should consider installing an app that will keep your connection private and/or anonymous. Many companies offer these types of apps – I use Norton WiFi Privacy. I also have Norton Mobile Security, which offers tools for recovery and data wiping in case my phone is lost or stolen (some phones have this as a built-in capability) and also scans the phone for malware.

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I have Scan to Evernote. Works in same way?

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    —> I have Scan to Evernote. Works in same way?

    Evernote makes an iPhone program called Scannable that works in the same way. I don’t know if you are referring to Scannable or to something else.

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Dear Hopeless in Seattle
At some point the technology is going to change/upgrade and you won’t be able to use the flip phone anymore and you will lose the photos and voice messages. You need to get these priceless memories on another format (and then back that up, as Dick always reminds us). You can email the photos from the flip phone to your personal email account where you can then save them to your computer. I just did it with a flip phone to verify this. I couldn’t see a way to transfer the voice recording file on a flip phone, but maybe someone else knows how to do that. If there isn’t a way to transfer the sound file, you should at least play it and record it to your computer. It won’t be as clear as the original, but at least you won’t lose it completely. If you can’t figure it out, ask someone to help you. If you don’t know anyone who can help you, go to your local public library for assistance. They have staff that are up-to-date on phones, computers, scanners, etc. and are very happy to help. Good luck!

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Hopeless in Seattle August 12, 2017 at 11:36 am

Thank all of you for the lessons. Really appreciate it!

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