The best iPhone and iPad apps for scanning documents

By , May 15, 2016

Best iPhone iPad Scanning Apps Hero

The App Store has over a million and a half apps. This can make it difficult to find apps, especially if you are looking for the best one for a certain task. So to help out, we are taking a look at countless scanning apps in order to find the best one for iPhone and iPad. For our ranking, we look at a number of different criteria. We consider ease of use, speed of capturing an image, sharing options, OCR (optical character recognition), edge detection, and any unique features they may have.

Scanbot

Scanbot Scanner Screenshot

Scanbot is my favorite scanning application that I have tested. It is a combination of expectational UI with the largest collection of features. There are a lot of little touches that I love. For instance, when you pull down on your library, it will jump to the camera with a nice animation. There is still the plus button, but it just shows the attention to detail.

Included in the free version is the scanner (which handles documents, QR codes, barcodes, and more), workflows, document edge detection, perspective correction, auto upload, and multi page support. That is a lot just for a free version but even more advanced features are baked into it with the purchase of pro.

The pro version includes folders, OCR (text recognition), edit and signing capabilities, Touch ID, naming templates that can even be based on calendar events or locations, smart naming automation, themes, quick actions (like making a phone call to a number on a business card), and full-text search.

By default, when you open the app, you are immediately in the scanner ready to capture an image. This can be disabled if you prefer to land in your library instead. Not only does this make it fast to scan something, but the whole app is very fast. The slowest part is OCR, but that still takes an understandable amount of time.

My biggest problem with Scanbot, is that it could be too many features for some users. It could make it confusing. For instance, you can tap the 3 dots in the top right corner, and hit share to bring up the share sheet. Or you can hit the workflow icon on the bottom, then the share button to pull up the same share sheet. Options are nice, but duplicate methods can be overwhelming.

Scanbot does more than you can ask for, giving you a wide variety of features I can’t even touch on in these few paragraphs. If you want the best scanning app for iPhone or iPad, you can’t go wrong with Scanbot. Plus, with the free version you can try it out before committing.

  • Device Support: iPad Pro 12”, iPad, iPhone
  • OCR: Yes
  • Automatic Edge Detection: Yes
  • Sharing Options: iCloud Drive and standard Share Sheet options
  • Notable Features: Sign, highlight, comment, and lock individual documents. Naming template is very robust, even recommending names based on tags, location, or your calendar. It scans QR codes and bar codes on top of documents and images. It includes Touch ID integration to lock application.
  • Cost: Free (Pro version $4.99 via in app purchase)

Scanner Pro 7

Scanner Pro 7 Screenshots

Scanner Pro 7 from Readdle is a great scanning application with quite a few pro level features. Readdle is known for a host of different productivity apps including PDF Expert, Printer Pro, and Calendars. Scanner Pro fits right into their wheel house and compliments the other applications they support.

One unique feature is Radar. Other applications we have looked at have access to your photo library, but Radar goes through those images, looks for documents, receipts, business cards, etc and selects the document on them. It then displays the documents in a timeline of when you’ve taken them. It obviously doesn’t always get this right, often selecting images that don’t have documents at all, but it is right enough of the time.

Workflows are also a neat feature. It allows you to tie multiple actions together. So as an example, I could create a workflow that would rename the document with the current date and time, move it to the receipts folder in dropbox, and import to my expenses notebook inside Evernote. That way when I take a picture of a receipt, it goes to my shared dropbox folder with my accountant, my personal expenses in Evernote, and renamed to the date I scanned it.

There are some features that I’m missing in the app, namely the ability to annotate, sign, or comment on the documents themselves. However, while it doesn’t support this natively, PDF Expert 5 from Readdle does have these features. So they can sell you two apps instead of one to take care of all these features and much more. One last thing I kind of wished I could see, was a barcode/QR scanner. It is still a scanning app, and it would be nice to include both features in one app instead of needing a QR scanner on the occasional times I need it.

  • Device Support: iPad, iPhone
  • OCR: Yes
  • Automatic Edge Detection: Yes
  • Sharing Options: iCloud and standard Share Sheet options including other Readdle apps
  • Notable Features: Radar will automatically scan you photo library for documents to import. Workflows that allow you to perform multiple actions at once.
  • Cost: $3.99

Scannable

Scannable Scanner Screenshot

Scannable is an offering brought to us for free, from Evernote. The idea is you can simply and easily scan notes, documents, or business cards and bring it into Evernote. It is best used if you want to scan a document quickly to immediately send to someone, or to Evernote.

It unfortunately doesn’t have much built in storage, only allowing you to keep the last 30 days worth of documents in the app itself. Outside that, you must either import them to Evernote, share them with someone, or transfer to your Camera Roll.

One particularly neat feature is you can scan a business card, and it will search LinkedIn for their profile, and import that information into your contacts. If you happen to have an Evernote edition of the ScanSnap scanner, you can feed documents from there, directly to the app.

The part I am missing from the app is the ability to store documents, but clearly they are trying to encourage use of Evernote, which is their core product. It is also lacking more advanced features like OCR, color correction and image editing.

Scannable really shines as a super quick and simple scan-and-share application. There is no extra fluff or confusing controls. When you open the app the only option is to scan something, or choose an item on the bottom that you recently scanned.

  • Device Support: iPad, iPhone
  • OCR: No
  • Automatic Edge Detection: Yes
  • Sharing Options: Standard Share Sheet options
  • Notable Features: Connect to ScanSnap scanner instead of using your devices camera. Import business cards into contacts, including LinkedIn information. Fast and simple.
  • Cost: Free

Honorable Mentions

iScanner and Genius Scan Screenshots

Genius Scan

Genius Scan is an admirable scanning app, but still isn’t on the level of the others on this list. It doesn’t have automatic edge detection while scanning, but will show you its best edge guesses when viewing after. If the edges are correct you can accept them, or move them manual.

The layout of the app is clean and modern, with a yellow theme running throughout. It fits on the iPad Pro natively, but I feel they could better use the real estate. Tags are also nice ability, you can swipe open the menu from the left and see any documents you have in each category. So I could see all business cards, all recipes, etc.

There is a pro version available called Genius Scan+ that unlocked more export options like AirPrint, Evernote, Dropbox, and more. Touch ID, auto upload, and smart document names are also touted features. These are also useful features, but unfortunately it is also one of the more expensive on the list at $6.99. Luckily the standard version is free if you don’t need any of these options.

iScanner

This app is another one that works well, just not well enough. The app scans to both PDF and JPEG. It has automatic edge detection which worked very well in my testing. It even can correct for perspective, though if you are at an extreme angle it does look a little funny.

Once a scan is taken, you do have options for black and white, color, or a straight document scan. You can even adjust the levels of those color options, including saturation and contrast. If you bring in a PDF that needs to be signed, you can actually save your signature in the app, then simply hit the signature button to insert and place it anywhere on the document. This is very fast and handy.

iScanner is free, though a pro version brings unlimited documents, cloud backups, batch scan, AirPrint, and no ads. It is only $3.99 which isn’t breaking the bank, but it still lacks features of the better apps on our list. Notably, OCR and more advanced editing are crucial features for pro users.

Conclusion

That covers all our top recommendations for the best scanning apps for iPhone and iPad. That said, there are so many more out there. We only touched the surface of the undoubtedly hundreds of other options. Do you know of one that we didn’t cover? Or of the ones listed, do you favor one over the others? Let us know your thoughts and recommendations below

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  • Anonymous

    Mine personally is evernote!

    • artik.mk

      Try scanbot ;-0

      • Anonymous

        I believe i have. Buy im sure its change since i last had a go at the app

  • PeacePaxTumb

    Microsoft Office Lens is free and a lightweight scanning program (no OCR)

    • makeittalk

      Nice app but unfortunately, OL only takes pictures. Doesn’t return a scanned image. File sizes are huge.

      • joe_l

        Takes pictures, but “doesn´t return a scanned image”? Huh?

      • makeittalk

        A scan of the same document I took this morning (sorry I cannot attach PDFs here) was 1.7MB with OL and only 800 KB with Scanner pro. The OL version was a “photo” PDF while the Scanner Pro was an OCRed, distortion corrected PDF. Microsoft has said OCR will be added in the future, Not there yet. Try it yourself on a document and you will see the difference.

      • sg1969

        that’s why he said “no OCR”

      • makeittalk

        Thank you for your enlightening insight. OCR is just one characteristic of a scanned image. Distortion correction and file size reduction are others.

  • Niclas

    You missed FineScanner. It probably has the best OCR of all apps in the app store.

  • James Jennett-Wheeler

    Scanner Pro 7s new distortion correction is brilliant too.

  • Good list Andrew, my choice goes to Scanner Pro which supports uploads on Dropbox, GDrive, Evernote and includes a storage on Intsig’s website. You can also fax documents with a price per page. What else?!

  • makeittalk

    Having tried a bunch, yup, Scanner Pro is the best for me. Workflows save me a ton of time. Renaming and automatically uploading to OneDrive is terrific.

  • nags9100

    scanner pro by readdle is the best!

  • Martynet

    I can’t decide between Scanbot and Scanner Pro by Readdle

  • :D

    Scanner Pro 🙂

  • iByron

    I have been using Prizmo (by Creaceed) with great results. The primary plus for me is the availability on iOS and Mac platforms with similar features on both. If I scan and OCR something on my desktop, it’s there on my phone and iPad right away via iCloud. It also does OCR in 10 built-in and 33 downloadable languages; great as I occasionally work in non-English documents. Page detection, stabilizer, workflow via custom URL scheme, business card mode, image mode, test sharing via standard share extension, etc.

    Lots of good apps out there.

  • ThinkActive

    Any thoughts on which one of these is going to work most easily for a blind person? Scan + OCR + Read Page (or VoiceOver) is a very powerful tool for people who have lost their sight..and it is Accessibility month!

  • Lewis

    The interface isn’t great, but Evernote Scannable has the best scanning quality of any app I’ve used. Nothing else comes close. It’s also good for scanning pages from books, which most apps aren’t able to handle.

    Scanbot has a beautiful interface but the quality is poor. Very disappointing app.

    I haven’t used Scanner Pro.

  • Conspicuously missing: Smile Software’s PDFpen Scan+

  • Willie Abrams

    Scanbot is slicker, easier, Scanner Pro has better image quality.

  • Chris L

    Office Lens is lightweight and works great for me. Easy to scan straight into an email as a PDF the Photos app, or any of the Office apps.

  • Denys Zhadanov

    Hey Andrew! Thanks for the review! One small note: Readdle should be pronounced as read-dle (from “read” as the main word) 😉