Top 10 PDF Scanner App for iPhone and Android
PDF scanner apps are very essential for any facility that’s schools, business organizations, and institutions dealing with plenty of paperwork. Using PDF scanner apps, one can scan notes, receipts, images, and business cards then transform them into common PDF or JPEG format. App scanner for PDF has made the scanning process a very easy and quick task which does not need massive knowledge on PDF documents. Therefore, a lot of paperwork has significantly reduced as the scanners are able to convert the text on the paper to a digital form which could be possibly used as data for an organization. Bearing in mind that most institutions like the government institutions are still relying on paperwork, there is the need to have an efficient scanning tool which would convert any piece of paper to a digital form and store it in a computer.
Top 10 PDF Scanner App for iPhone and Android
#1. Scanbot scanner
Scanbot scanner is one of the best iPhone and iPad PDF scanner available in the app store. It entails a free version and a subscribed pro version although its free PDF scanner app version contains approximately everything any user would want from the app.
Some of the PDF scanner app iPhone features:
- QR scanning, PDF documents, and JPEG, Multi-page scans.
- Automatic upload, Editing, and Annotations.
- OCR text recognition, Full-text search.
- Document edge detection, perspective correction, auto upload, multiple page support, folders, signing features, Touch ID, Smart naming automation, and themes.
#2. Scanner Pro
Scanner Pro is a great PDF scanning iPhone app developed from Readdle with few pro features and satisfactory basic features. Scanner Pro is a document scanner with OCR and it facilitates fast and easy scanning of documents.
The features of this iPhone PDF scanner include:
- Text and edge recognition.
- It has share options to iCloud and standard share sheet, workflows.
- Radar feature will automatically scan your photo library for documents.
Scanner pro lacks features like annotation capability, signing and commenting on documents. However there other saddle apps with this feature hence anyone interested would probably purchase one more app having the missing features.
#3. Genius scanner
Genius scanner is a PDF scanner app for iPhone with closed in-text scanning capability facilitates fast scanning then exporting of documents of multi-page files. This Genius scan PDF scanner app is considered as the best PDF scanner app for iPad and iPhone whose technology includes Smart page detection, image enhancement, and perspective correction. Additionally, very powerful tools are used in organizing and exporting documents. And documents are not sent to a third server to ensure the user’s details security.
Some of best iOS PDF scanner features include:
- Page edge detection.
- Color enhancement feature that’s used in applying a color layout on your page.
- Multiple page scans.
- Share option among many other features which contribute to making the app super.
Some of the features may require a paid subscription to the genius Cloud services which renews after 24hours before the end of the subscription time.
#4. JotNot scanner
JotNot Scanner PDF iPhone app is recommended for advanced PDF processing and it has an advanced inbuilt image processing algorithm which gives clear outputs ready for immediate printing.
Features of best PDF scanner for iPad include:
- The Graphic user interface is really user-friendly.
- Support for iOS 11, iPhone X ready.
- Fixes bugs with fast processing.
Iscanner is iPad and iPhone scanner app which can scan huge volumes of documents and user’s documents security is assured as they have a password feature which the user can apply.
The app also has some fantastic features like:
- Signature capability.
- Offline usage feature which saves on data usage by customers.
- Advanced PDF scanner, Document editor, File manager, and Document sharing tools.
#6. Tiny Android Scanner
Tiny Android scanner is an Android app PDF scanner meant to do simple basic scanning of documents. The tiny scanner scans documents which are to be placed in the user’s device and thus there are no subscriptions for services search as Cloud storage.
Features of Android PDF Scanner App:
- The app keeps it simple and it is easy to navigate.
- Offers the print option hence use of the app may be good for quick tasks like scanning a document which needs to be printed immediately.
- The latest update in the apps make includes stability improvement ensuring the app doesn’t fail prematurely as well as minor bug fixes.
#7. Quick PDF Scanner Pro
Quick PDF Scanner Pro is a PDF scanner for Android and meant for fast scanning and digitalization of documents with its latest version having an advanced camera which processes pictures with ease and at a relatively high pace.
Some of the notable features of phone PDF scanner include:
- Flexible user interface.
- Real-time tracking to maintain optimal processing speed.
- Optical character recognition (OCR) which converts photos to text in more than 45 languages.
- Batch processing, import, and export of files, connection to Cloud storage, PDF export and configuration, Easy PDF management and sharing.
#8. Easy Scanner
Easy Scanner is a highly recommended PDF scanner app Android which has all features both advanced and basic offered free. The app can do an unlimited number of scans processing three batches per day.
Some highlighted features of PDF scanner for Android free:
- Scanning, Signature making, and insertion into documents.
- Sharing to Cloud uploads and printer as well as to other devices over connections like Bluetooth.
- Managing documents which entails movement of files within, into and out of the app.
CamScanner is a PDF scanner app for Android and is very popular among phone users. It has been rated by more than 1.5 million people and they all seem to have felt the effectiveness of the scanner. Camscanner is compatible with phones, tablets, and computers in which it helps the user in; scanning, storing, syncing, among other functions on document PDF functionalities.
Some of its highlighted features include:
- Quick document digitalization.
- Optimal scan quality, extraction of text from images, Sharing documents.
- Quick search, and document editing.
#10. Clear Scanner
Clear Scanner is an Android PDF scanner app and is useful to individual needing their work done quickly and at no cost. The scanning process, conversions, and sharing are quite fast. Their output is also witnessed to be clear and not blurred as it is the case in some scanners.
Some of the highlighted features of this app include:
- Document edge detection.
- Document edge detection.
- Back-up and restore features, Tinny app size, Text extraction from image OCR.
Part 2. The Best PDF Scanner App for PC
PDFelement ProPDFelement Pro is the best PDF scanning app for PC use. It has a free trial version as well as the whole version which the user ought to subscribe to. This scanner covers every feature that would be probably required for scanning purposes on personal computers.
Some of the features of PDF Scanner for PC are:
- Editing and OCR; edit PDF text, PDF image, PDF pages, and PDF OCR.
- Markup and sign; Markup PDF, Freehand drawing, Stamp PDF and annotate PDF.
- Convert and create; Convert, combine, split and create PDF.
- Secure and share; Password PDF, Redact PDF, Watermark PDF, Share PDF.
Conclusion:Those are just some of the many features of the app. The app is highly recommendable due to its compatibility with various operating systems hence creating some sort of a standard ground for Mac and Windows users.
CamScanner for Android
CamScanner is one of the better-known mobile scanner apps available for Android devices. It uses your mobile’s camera to scan documents. You can then apply filters and save them as a variety of file types, export, and more.
There are plenty of scanner apps out there, from the feature-rich Genius Scan to the user-friendly TurboScan and streamlined Tiny Scan. CamScanner offers a middle ground between these kinds of apps, with many similar features wrapped up in an intuitive interface. It’s available for free or with a license.
Free vs. paid
The free version of the app comes with most of the features mentioned below, except that documents are watermarked, there are ads, and you can only annotate 30 pages. Some other features are also time-limited, such as uploading to OneDrive or Evernote.
The ‘Premium’ service is a monthly or annual subscription model that removes ads and time limits: you can use all the app features with enhanced capabilities, e.g., you can create collaborative documents that over 40 people can access.
Then there’s the CamScanner license, which is another paid service. However, all it does is remove ads from the free version, so it’s mostly pointless.
Apart from being a scanner, the app also lets you save and convert files. PDF is the default file type, but it’s possible to convert text and spreadsheet documents into other formats. You can edit and annotate documents, share them with others to edit, and upload to the CamScanner Cloud.
Once you’ve scanned a document to your Android device, you can tweak filters, including the brightness and contrast, as well as change a color image to black and white. Crop, resize and sharpen blurry images, then share them via social media, email, and more. Note that some of these features are only available to Premium users.
If you need to scan on the go or don’t have a standalone scanner, CamScanner is an ideal option. When you use an app that includes ads, there’s always a risk that those ads will infect your Android device. However, CamScanner is safe to use and remains a powerful scanner app.
Should you download it?
Yes. Although some features are locked behind a subscription, the free version will be more than enough for most people’s needs.
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The All-in-One Scanner AppTapScanner. The new home of all your paper documents. One Tap to scan any document to PDF.Now you can simply scan, import and share right inside this portable scanner app. Access everything you’ve previously scanned with this PDF Scanner app.Join over 100 Million satisfied users100 Million users trust TapScanner to be their tiny portable scanner. Download and start scanning now with the top scanner choice!Low on memory? No problem This scanner cam has a tiny binary footprint of only 20MBScan to PDF Scan any document and convert to PDF with your mobile device. TapScanner has got you covered with our pdf maker and pdf reader. Receipts, documents, business cards, whiteboards, ID’s, books and photos. From image to pdf immediately☕️We do the work for you with Auto Border detection Scanning made easy Get your documents auto cropped and sorted in the way you need them Save time cropping each documentScan your ID cards Passports Easily scan your ID or passport and share them.✒️ Finish your paperwork from anywhere Use this document scanner to attach an E-signature using pdf sign tools. Mark and edit fields to add everything you need with an intuitive pdf viewer. Reduce PDF size Compress PDF for easy sending Get the perfect scan. Enhance with Filters Filters that will make your scanned documents look professional Remove shadows and artifacts to enhance your scans Clean your scans. Remove watermarks Port to black and white or adjust contrast and brightness Backup to Cloud Just like that, scans on your phone are backed up to your favorite Cloud. Protect PDF Lock PDF with password to keep your documents secure Edit text from your scans Convert image to text. Edit your scans with OCR Recognize text for easy text editing Export accurate text straight from your docs Read QR codes with the built in QR scanner which supports links, text ISBN and emails. simply access the Qr code reader in the cam scan module✂️ PDF Editor Pdf splitter. simply import a pdf file and TapScanner will Split PDF Manage your files Merge PDF files together to make editing easier Combine PDF files quickly to organize your files Convert files Share your files in the format you need with advanced OCR : convert jpg to pdf files or convert pdf to jpg. Need a document in word? Convert PDF to text for easy editing. With OCR, you can convert PDF to doc Print Using this PDF scanner, you can print directly from our scanner app. Get everyone in on the loop Share documents easily and quickly to email, social media and instant messaging apps Sort Create folders and tag documents to organize all your scans Find documents in your scanned library easily by name, tag or folder“The unique thing about this app is that it takes multiple photos to create a detailed scanned document. You can export the scanned copies in a number of formats and upload them to the Cloud as well.”Indian Express“TapScanner is a scanning app loaded with features like OCR, batch scanning, and two very cool features. The first is that the app can actually take three pictures simultaneously to create finely detailed scanned documents.”Deccan ChronicleTapScanner Premium TapScanner Premium grants access to all exclusive features for you. Get all the cutting-edge scanning technologies with an ad-free scanning experience. Start your TapScanner Premium subscription with a free trial and Transform your device into a powerful document scanner and PDF converter. HIGH QUALITY PDF SCANNER. TRY IT NOWContact us: We’d love to hear your experience, suggestions or feedback: https://tap.pm/contact-us-2/Follow us on : @TapScannerAppLike us on : TapScannerFollow us on Instagram: @TapScannerApp
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Scan with your phone and turn the image into editable text with these apps.
For the longest time, I relied on a photo to take my documents from paper to the digital world. But now that I’ve discovered the power of OCR scanning software, I have no intention of going back to the Paper Ages.
I most often use scanning apps for business-related documents and forms of ID, but as you’ll see below, you can use these apps for almost any kind of document: books, receipts, certificates, or even a page of your own handwriting.
I’ve been updating this article for a couple years, and after testing dozens of mobile scanning and OCR tools, I’ve handpicked eight that will change the way you manage your documents.
What makes the best OCR cell phone app?
If you don’t own a scanner, you can still digitize documents quickly with a mobile scanning app—all of the apps on this list will do the trick. But if you need to turn your pages into a file you can edit, you’ll want optical character recognition (OCR) as part of your mobile scan app. That’s what will turn your mobile scans into editable digital documents.
With that in mind, the best OCR software with mobile scanning should excel in a few key areas. Not every app on this list meets all of these criteria, but if you’re going to scan with your phone, these are the features you’ll want to look for—and it’s what I was looking for as I tested.
- Auto-scanning. Every app on this list includes some kind of scanning feature, but I paid attention to which apps made the process as painless as possible. This included testing how well each app focused on the document, how accurately the sensor detected borders, and how long it took to capture a scan.
- Accuracy. An OCR app needs to be accurate—no one wants to spend ages editing gibberish text, so I paid attention to how accurately each app produced digitized text from my scans.
- File management. A phone scan app doesn’t need to have lots of bells and whistles, but I did take into account how effective each app was at organizing, saving, sharing, printing, and exporting digitized files.
- Customization. Scanning and digitizing a document may just be the beginning for you. If your goal is to add more text, a signature, or watermarks, or to password-protect your documents, having customization options is also important.
- Scanning modes. You’re likely going to be scanning a variety of documents—from IDs and passports to books and receipts. Having different scanning mode options can help with this kind of variety.
One other thing: I didn’t want bloated apps—if you just want to scan, you don’t need a CRM to do it. Having said that, it’s worth taking a look through your existing tech stack to see if any of your current apps already have this technology (many do).
I looked through the top-rated apps to come up with a giant list of tools to consider. After narrowing it down based on the criteria above, I did in-depth testing on all the top contenders.
How I tested the mobile OCR apps
How we evaluate and test apps
All of our best apps roundups are written by humans who’ve spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it’s intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We’re never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.
To test the performance of each app, I used three very different documents:
- A certificate with various fonts
- A busy receipt with varying degrees of visible text
- A wordy psychology book with thick paragraphs
Note that I didn’t pick documents that would be easy. With any scanning app, you’ll get the best results when working with flat, single-sided, standard size pages of crisp black text in a single typeface (sans serif, ideally) arranged in paragraphs on white paper. Fading, folding, tearing, book bindings, variations in ink saturation, and other factors can trip up OCR. Life, however, rarely gives us pristine documents.
With one exception, the apps on this list all work on iOS or Android, but I tested each app on an iPhone 12 running on iOS 16.3. I used each app in the same natural light conditions against the same background, a black placemat. When available, I used any auto-scanning features in the app that were relevant to that particular text. For example, CamScanner has a special mode for scanning book pages, so I used that on the textbook, while other apps don’t come with these settings and force you to do cold-turkey scans.
I went into this experiment thinking I might see subtle differences in terms of how well each app processed color or how many errors I could count among the OCR texts. And I assumed I’d end up with at least a dozen apps that I could easily recommend. That wasn’t the case. When the wheat separated from the chaff, there wasn’t a lot of wheat left.
While narrowing down the list, some apps didn’t meet basic requirements, and others performed poorly. One app failed to scan and properly crop the standard receipt (the easy test, which most other apps passed with flying colors). Another was able to scan perfectly only to produce indiscernible, gibberish text.
In the end, only a handful of apps successfully emerged as respectable, dependable options. Here are the eight best mobile apps for scanning and OCR.
The best mobile scanning apps at a glance
Automatically detects phone numbers and URLs
Free plan available; 9.99/month or 69.99/year for premium features
Detailed scans with multiple export options
9.99/month, 69.99/year, 299 lifetime
Quick mobile scanning and Microsoft users
Simple and straightforward scanning process
Highly accurate OCR scanning
Free plan available; premium plans at 4.99/month or 49.99/year
Accurate recognition of messy handwritten text
For OCR features: 2.99/month, 9.99/year, or 29.99 one-time
Google bells and whistles
Built-in web search and translation features
Best free OCR software
Adobe Scan pros:
Adobe Scan cons:
Adobe Scan offers several modes for scanning, including books, documents, business cards, ID cards, and even whiteboards. I started by scanning the receipt and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the app not only can detect phone numbers and URLs but also makes the number or URL clickable. This should be useful, especially if you’re on the go and don’t have time to jot down a number or website—you can just take a pic and easily access that information later.
As far as digitizing, it had some hiccups with accuracy, but not too shabby overall. The on the receipt—which other apps had pulled just fine—were incorrect here. On the other hand, the certificate fared a lot better, with Adobe catching most of the text except for the Certificate title at the top. What’s interesting is that the book wound up being the most accurate: there were a handful of errors with some of the words, but for the most part, the text was correct enough to decipher.
Overall, Adobe Scan is a solid option for anyone looking for a free OCR app. It comes with basic file management and editing capabilities, which makes it edge out Microsoft Lens for a free option. And for those looking for a few more features, like the ability to export to Word, compress and combine PDFs, protect PDFs with a password, or digitize up to 100 pages, there’s a premium plan available.
Adobe Scan price: Free; 9.99/month or 69.99/year for premium features.
Smart Lens is a highly recommended Adobe Scan alternative for Android. It works similarly to detect phone numbers, email addresses, and URLs. With Smart Lens, you can take things further and access profiles, send emails, or even create contacts. But the app isn’t available cross-platform.
Best OCR scanner app for iPhone users
Apple Notes pros:
Apple Notes cons:
Apple Notes is intended to be a note-taking app, but Apple has added OCR features that are good enough to get it a place on this list.
To scan and digitize text, click on the camera icon, and you’ll see four options, including Scan Documents and Scan Text. The first option just scans the document and places it in a note, while the Scan Text option allows you to select a section of text and insert the text directly into a note.
I found the OCR to be fairly accurate, although it did get tripped up on the arched Certificate text, relaying it as Netitica instead. Everything else was correct. I’d also argue it’s best used for digitizing smaller chunks of text. For example, when I tried to do a full page of the book, it had some trouble finding and fitting all the text on the page within the scanning borders; the same goes for the receipt. But I really appreciate how accurate the digitized text was. Editing was very minimal—only a few punctuation marks here and there.
Since this app is completely free to use for iPhone users and incredibly convenient for people who use the Notes app religiously (like me), I think it’s a good one to consider if you ever need some quick OCR.
Apple Notes price: Free
Best OCR scanner app for detailed scans
- You can edit the text directly within documents
- Multiple formatting options for digitized documents
- Various export options, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or image
As I went through the testing process, CamScanner was the first breath of fresh air. I didn’t once have to adjust the borders on any of my documents, and the level of detail was on another level. It recognized almost all the text on the certificate, including that tricky Certificate title that had been tripping up all the other apps. It also broke up each portion of text as separate lines, which was a nice touch.
Another pleasant surprise was how CamScanner performed with the book. When I exported a page as a Word document, it looked like an actual picture instead of just a digitized scan. The text was organized almost exactly as it was in the book, including the positioning of the paragraphs—and it was all completely highlightable.
When customizing documents, you can add a signature, but unlike on other apps, you’re only able to either import the signature or have the app scan it from elsewhere. (Most other apps allowed me to simply draw my signature on the phone screen.) You can add watermarks and set a passcode to protect documents, though, and the naming suggestions when saving and managing files was a nice touch.
While the price for CamScanner may seem a bit steep, I think it’s well worth it for how feature-rich it is. Not only is the OCR accurate, detailed, and optimized for the user’s benefit, but with the premium subscription, you can search text within your documents, create collages, scan unlimited documents, and get 10 GB of Cloud space.
CamScanner price: 9.99/month, 69.99/year, 299 lifetime
Best OCR app for quick mobile scanning (and Microsoft users)
Microsoft Lens pros:
Microsoft Lens cons:
- There’s no way to create folders for file management
- You can’t edit digitized text within the app
Microsoft Lens is straightforward—that’s what drew me in. If you give the other apps on this list a shot, you’ll notice that a lot of them require you to sign up or give you a tour before you can even scan your first document. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that approach, Microsoft Lens skips all of the fuss and lets you get right to scanning.
The other side of that means that the app is fairly bare-bones. Microsoft Lens doesn’t put much emphasis on file management. There’s no ability to create folders or sort and filter your scans. On the iPhone, once I finished editing my documents, the app took me straight to the export options, which included either saving the document to the iPhone Photos app or other compatible apps. That said, Microsoft users will enjoy the ability to save documents and import them into other Microsoft apps, including OneDrive, OneNote, Word, and PowerPoint.
In terms of OCR, the receipt and certificate were mostly accurate, with a line or two missing. And while the book was a bit of a Final Boss for most apps, Microsoft Lens was able to step up to the challenge. It still had a few issues with accuracy—a few missing words and letters—but it was still mostly readable.
Best OCR app for extra features
- Intuitive interface with helpful tutorials
- An abundance of extra features, such as the ability to do math or measure distances
iScanner had my favorite interface out of all of the OCR apps. It offers a lot of features, which could have been overwhelming, but it does a great job of organizing everything. Whether you’re looking to scan an ID card, sign a document, or recognize text, the app makes the features readily apparent by splitting actions into the following categories: Scan, Edit, and Share. And if you’re feeling lost or curious, just click on the circular icons at the top of the screen, and you’ll find video tutorials for most of the features.
As far as my standard testing documents, iScanner performed pretty well. With the certificate, it missed the title at the top by a letter (not unusual), but it was mostly accurate. The book and receipt were a little better: certain letters and words were left out, but generally, the digitized text was legible and understandable.
But what makes this app unique is that it can complete other actions with the information it detects. Example: iScanner can solve math problems. To test this feature, I handwrote a simple equation— (39)/4= —and the app solved it in seconds. If you really want to see what the app is capable of, throw some more advanced algebra at it, and you should get similar results.
It can also count. I scribbled nine dots on a piece of paper. After analyzing and identifying the shape of each dot, the app was able to count all nine. If you need to quickly count or confirm an amount, this app will be a lifesaver.
Another small detail I enjoyed was the ability to blur out text on a document. Most OCR apps offer this to some extent, but iScanner sets itself apart by making the blur match the color of the background of the document, so it almost looks like you’ve taken out the text altogether. Overall, iScanner is definitely one of the strongest choices on this list.
iScanner price: 9.99/month or 19.99/year
Best mobile scanning app for accuracy
- Great OCR accuracy
- You can add watermarks to scans
- Share scans directly to Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, Evernote, and Dropbox
I can confidently say that Tiny Scanner was the most accurate of any on the list. CamScanner was a close second, but it struggled a bit with misspellings and omitted words, while Tiny Scanner was correct to the T.
To access Tiny Scanner’s OCR features, you’ll need to subscribe to a paid plan, but there is some flexibility when it comes to simply scanning. For example, when I revisited the app after my free trial expired and tried to scan, I was hit first with the prompt to upgrade to premium. But when I clicked out of the prompt, another pop-up showed up asking me to simply watch an ad for one-time access to the feature I wanted. The videos can be as short as five seconds, and the longest one I had to watch was 20 seconds.
If you use OCR often and you’re looking for an app that’s going to provide consistent accuracy, the 4.99/month price tag is worth it.
Tiny Scanner price: Free plan available; premium plans are 4.99/month or 49.99/year
Scan Shot was equally as accurate as Tiny Scanner, but the app is more basic. It’s a really simple app: you can scan different documents, convert text, copy and paste that text, add signatures and filters, and that’s pretty much it. At 9.99/month, it’s a bit pricier than Tiny Scanner and with slightly fewer features. Still, I wouldn’t count it out, especially since you can use Scan Shot’s OCR feature for free.
Best handwriting OCR app
Pen to Print
Pen to Print pros:
- Ability to scan and digitize handwritten text
- Accurate even with slightly messy handwriting
Pen to Print cons:
Even in the age of all-things-digital, handwriting will never fully go out of style. For those of us who enjoy the feel of putting pen to paper but also occasionally need to put those writings onto a screen, Pen to Print is a great solution for OCR handwriting recognition.
I had to go off-book to test this one, so I created a basic travel list. I began with my normal handwriting: the app had some difficulty detecting my list at first, but almost all of the items came out correct once it was digitized. In the second round, I decided to instead write a sentence in cursive. And the result was even more impressive: it got everything right.
You can save your digitized texts to the app, but if you want to export to other platforms—or copy, paste, and edit the text—you’ll need to subscribe to the premium plan. The payment options are more than reasonable, though, starting at 2.99/month.
Pen to Print price: For OCR features: 2.99/month, 9.99/yr, or 29.99 one-time
Best OCR app for Google bells and whistles
Google Lens pros:
- Built-in web search access using a scanned photo or digitized text
- Built-in access to Google Translate
Google Lens cons:
Google Lens becomes a mobile scanning and OCR app when you use it with other apps, like Google Photos. Choose a photo from your Google Photos library, and click the lens icon at the bottom of the screen. You’ll see some white dots flash across the screen as Google Lens analyzes the image, and within a few seconds, it will highlight all your text. Or you could scan something with Google Lens and then copy it to Google Docs—Google’s video of this process is pretty snazzy. (Side note: you can also turn images into text with Google Drive and Google Docs.)
From there, there are a wealth of options available, thanks to Google being Google. For example, when I clicked translate, the app immediately identified that my text was English and prompted me to open Google Translate. And with the text-to-speech feature, I had a paragraph from my book read aloud to me with surprisingly strong accuracy. I even took that travel list with the messy handwriting that I used to test Pen to Print, and Google Lens had no issues identifying the words.
But Google Lens’s abilities go even further: it offers visual matches, which means that it can analyze an image or document and find similar results across the web (like Google image search). When I tested it with the certificate and travel list, results upon results of certificates and travel lists popped up. On that same note, when I clicked on the shopping tab, I was able to see results for certificates on sale, along with pricing. Thanks, Google!
While Google Lens doesn’t technically have a scanning component (i.e., it doesn’t store your scans), you’ll find that it’s not actually necessary if your goal is to extract text. You can simply take a picture of your document, let Google Lens do its thing, copy the text, and paste it elsewhere. It may not work for storing digitized versions of documents, especially for professional purposes, but it’s a very convenient option to have on hand.
Google Lens price: Free
Text Fairy is a solid Google Lens alternative for Android for anyone who wants to digitize text in various languages (it has over 110 languages in its database). Like Google Lens, it also has a text-to-speech feature.
How do I scan with my phone?
All the apps here will scan text and—either natively or by copying it elsewhere—let you edit that text however you want. It’s honestly kind of incredible. Even more impressive is that your phone has some of these features built in.
If you have an iPhone or iPad, just take a picture or screenshot with some text, and you’ll see a little button pop up that lets you highlight, copy, and paste it. I used this feature regularly, and I’ve found it to be extremely accurate and adept at capturing even the vaguest text. You may have to do some maneuvering with the formatting—there will be some awkward line breaks if you’re copying paragraphs, for example—but it’s ridiculously convenient.
This article was originally published in September 2018 by Jill Duffy. The most recent update was in May 2023.