How to Capture Important Data With Scanning and OCR Apps

A scanning app with optical character recognition (OCR) is indispensable for getting organized. the simplest scanning apps assist you to capture all types of data like presentation slides from a gathering, whiteboard notes, business cards, to not mention important documents. they are available in handy for other uses, too, everything from digitizing paper recipes to saving warranties.

A few years ago, I had to urge a replacement passport and on an equivalent day, drop it off for a visa. Right after I picked up the passport, I thought, “I should probably have a replica of this before I hand it over.” I took out my phone and scanned it. surely, the visa took quite a fortnight, and within the meantime, I needed the small print of my passport for a bunch of paperwork. Good thing I had a legible copy!

How Do Scanning Apps Work?

When you use a mobile scanning app, it isn’t much different from taking an image. In a perfect setting, you play your document flat on a contrasting background and point your phone’s camera at it.

Then, the scanning app guides you thru the method. it always tells you to line up the sides of the document with crop marks on the phone screen. Hold steady as you’ll, but don’t be concerned. The app adjusts for slight movements. The scan takes a second or two. When it’s done, you generally see a preview of your document. The app usually then asks whether you would like to feature more pages or start a replacement scan.

Perhaps you’re thinking that you simply could skip a scanning app altogether and instead take a photograph of any papers that you want to save lots of digitally. You could, but there are two disadvantages. First, a picture is unlikely to be as clear as a scan, so you run the danger of not having legible text. Second, you cannot search the text, which could make it extremely difficult to seek out what you would like later.

What do you have to Scan With a Scanning App?

Let’s check out samples of how you’ll use a scanning app to remain organized. then, I’ll explain which features you ought to search for within the best scanning apps and name a couple of apps that have them.

Business Cards

The next time someone hands you a card, use a scanning app to capture that person’s contact information then return the cardboard. You’ll show how easy it’s to be paperless while also collecting their details during a digital format so you do not need to type anything later. Some scanning apps can detect business cards and make a replacement entry in your contact app. Others search LinkedIn to suggest connecting there.

Whiteboards and Presentation Materials

In meetings, most folks want to offer each speaker our full attention. That’s hard to try to if we’re squinting at a presentation or whiteboard, hoping to not miss a crucial detail. an excellent solution is to quickly scan the slides or other materials as they seem knowing that you simply can look over them in additional detail later.

Documents to Email or copy

While many of us and organizations are happy to send you digital documents, there are still many instances once we encounter paper. for instance, your bank gives you a crucial paper document to sign, but you would like your lawyer to see it over first. That’s an excellent time to use your scanning app. Scan a couple of pages so you’ll email them stat. Some scanning apps include a tool that allows you to digitally sign them, too.

Other important papers that you simply might want to scan and copy include immunization records, tax documents, and legal certificates (birth, marriage, immigration, etc.).

What to seem For during a Scanning App

The best scanning apps capture your documents clearly, make the text searchable, and assist you to save the finished files within the right places. Here’s what to seem for:

Automatic Edge Detection

A great scanning and OCR app automatically find the sides of your documents. once you point the camera at the paper, the crop marks you see on the screen should look for the sting of the document on their own and suit different dimensions. So, whether you’re scanning an A4 sheet of paper or a card, the app figures it out automatically.

Save and Export Options

The best scanning apps offer you options for where you’ll save or export your newly scanned texts, like Google Drive, Dropbox, or another storage service. you do not want an app that forces you to stay documents during a new place.


I mentioned OCR at the highest of this text. once you have OCR, any words you’ll become text. you’ll also copy and paste the text or edit it. for instance, you scan a recipe and see that it’s a typo. With a very good scanning and OCR app, you ought to be ready to fix the typo. Some apps can convert your final text to a well-known data processing format, like .docx. Others allow you to change the text right within the app without having to open the document during a word processing system first.

OCR also enables you to look at the text of documents. this suggests if you would like to seek out your immunization records, you’ll try checking out your doctor’s name to seek out the file. you do not get to remember what you named the file. If you employ to look tons for locating files, then you actually need OCR.

Search Functionality

Maybe you are not super organized when it involves exporting and saving your files to a different location. therein case, you’d want to be ready to search the contents of the scanning app for love or money you once scanned and now need. an excellent scanning app will have its own search functionality.

Multipage Support

Really good scanning apps can scan multiple pages consecutively. they ought to then collate all the pages into one PDF with ease. the foremost high-end scanning apps also correct for page distortion, like once you scan pages from a book and can’t quite catch on to get flat.


Many of the simplest scanning and OCR apps have a free level of service and a premium paid level. OCR is usually considered a premium feature. The pricing of scanning and OCR apps may be a little nut. For a short time, you’ll expect to pay between $4 and $7 for an honest app. Now, the one-time fees are ten times higher. While subscription rates are more reasonable, some people only need a scanning app a couple of times a year.

The Best Scanning Apps

Now that you simply understand what scanning apps can do and why you would possibly want one, here are a number of the simplest ones you’ll find. I’ve focused on apps that provide scanning and OCR and make your text editable. Many apps just do the scanning. Evernote Scannable and therefore the mobile Dropbox app are two examples. But they do not offer you a final text that you simply can copy and paste or edit. These apps do.

No matter which app you select, you will find that having a scanning app available that you simply trust helps you digitize your documents and stay organized.

ABBYY FineScanner

Free; Pro for $4.99 per month, $19.99 per annum, or $59.99 one-time fee

ABBYY FineScanner is possibly the simplest and most capable scanner and OCR app for mobile devices. It exports files to a spread of formats, allows you to save files to most major storage services, and even runs OCR in additional than 40 languages. you would like a Premium account to urge OCR, which costs $4.99 per month, $19.99 per annum, or $59.99 for a one-time fee.

Available on Android, iOS

Microsoft Office Lens (Free at Apple App Store)


Microsoft Office Lens is one among the only a few scanning apps that’s completely free. It’s slightly slower and clunkier than other apps with edge detection and cropping, but it gets the work done. The app has special modes for scanning business cards and whiteboards. To edit the text you’ll, you want to export the text via Microsoft OneDrive then open it in Word.

Available on Android, iOS, Windows

Scanbot 9 ($7.99 at Scanbot)

Free; Pro for $4.49 first year then $22.49 per year; or $69.99 one-time on iOS

Scanbot is a superb scanning and OCR app. The said, the corporate recently changed its pricing model from a low-cost one-time fee to an annual subscription or a costlier one-time fee ($69.99). Additionally, prices are very hard to trace down. In any event, the professional version of Scanbot is worth considering if you would like a quick and accurate scanning app for nearly any sort of document. it’s an honest color correction and optimization tool, plus other scanning features, like a QR code reader and barcode scanner. you’ll also use it to sign documents using nothing quite your finger and phone or tablet.

Available on Android and iOS.

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