Scanning documents with your smartphone


By Chris Guld, Geeks on Tour

Do you sometimes need to scan documents but don’t want to spend money on – or take up space with – a flatbed scanner? Did you know your iPhone or Android smartphone can do it for free? It’s different from just taking a photo of a document – we want to convert the image to a .pdf document because that is the best format for documents.


The Notes app that comes preinstalled on your iPhone can be used to scan. Try this now:

  1. Open the Notes App.
  2. Tap the pencil icon in lower right to start a new note.
  3. Tap the Camera button on the Notes toolbar and you’ll see a “Scan Documents” option.
  4. Place the document on a contrasting background and point the camera at it so that all 4 corners are visible.
  5. When the yellow highlight is correctly covering your document, tap the shutter button.
  6. If needed, drag the corner markers to adjust, then tap Keep Scan.
  7. Repeat for further pages, tap save when done.
  8. Now you can tap the Share button and choose your email app to send this document to someone.


  1. Open the Drive app. It’s the green/yellow/blue triangle, usually found in the Google Group of apps.
  2. Tap the + button in the lower right, then you should see the option to Scan.
  3. Or, better yet, use the Drive “Scans” widget.

Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at She and her husband, Jim, produce a free weekly YouTube show called What Does This Button Do?  They have been Fulltime RVers, popular seminar presenters at RV Rallies, and regular contributors to, for many years. 


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My SE iPhone does not have a tool bar in the Notes app!


I didn’t see the camera on the tool bar on my Iphone 6 but the + symbol brought up the scan document. Thank you. I had no idea this was there.

dawn ellen miller

I used to use a scanning app but for the most part I just try and take a nice crisp photo of the document.

steve s.

There is also an app for Android called Adobe Scan, from Adobe.
It is a free app, and allows you to scan and save in a variety of formats including PDF.

Skip Gimbrone

My iPhone XR does not have a tool bar

John Whitney

Tried it. Thanks!