Scanner Pro turns an iPhone into a document scanner

This handy app leverages your phone's camera to capture documents, turn them into PDFs, and share them via e-mail, Evernote, Dropbox, and other methods.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

Scanner Pro may not have the sexiest interface, but it's great for capturing and sharing documents. Rick Broida

Problem: You've just been handed a stack of papers that need to be signed and returned--and there's no fax machine in sight.

Problem: You've got a pocketful of receipts you're tired of carrying around--and no place to file them.

Problem: You need to convert a printed document into a PDF.

The solution for all these predicaments is Scanner Pro ($4.99), which turns your iPhone into a mobile scanner that connects to everything from Dropbox to Evernote to MobileMe.

Here's how it works: Find the most well-lit setting you possibly can, run the app, then point your iPhone's camera at a document. Assuming you're happy with the capture (a handy Retake button is available if you're not), tap Done, and Scanner Pro converts the page into a PDF.

From there, the sky's the limit--or make that the cloud. With a few taps you can upload your page(s) to any/all of the aforementioned services, as well as Box.net, Humyo, and WebDAV-compatible online storage.

Scanner Pro also lets you e-mail and print your scans (though the latter requires third-party app Print n Share, which costs $6.99). What you can't do is mark or annotate them; the app's only editing controls are for contrast, brightness, and color/grayscale.

If you just want to copy scanned documents to your PC, Scanner Pro provides an always-on network-drive capability; just point your browser to the IP address shown on the app's main page and presto, you've got files.

I have just two real complaints with the app. First, it's hampered by the limitations of the iPhone's camera. My autofocusing 3GS did a pretty decent job of capturing letter-size pages, but I wouldn't call the text razor-sharp. And you really do need a ton of indirect light to get good results.

Second, Scanner Pro's interface can be a little confusing at first, and the built-in help is scant at best. Novice users may find themselves frustrated until they learn their ways around.

Despite these limitations, I will confess to some serious love for Scanner Pro. Just today I used it to capture and e-mail a few signed pages; the convenience was astounding.

While we're on the subject of camera-powered apps: