The versatility of smartphones has enabled them to replace a wide variety of older, lesser machines, including portable cameras, GPS units, handheld gaming consoles, and more. Modern mobile devices are used by everyone from individual freelancers to large, established companies to help them work more efficiently and collaborate more easily. As deskphones, calculators, and other obsolete devices disappear, you can’t help but wonder when that giant, hulking office scanner and that shrieking fax machine will finally get replaced by something smaller, easier, and better.
Would it surprise you to learn that an inexpensive iPhone app can replace both at the same time?
CamScanner is essentially a scanner and a fax machine that fits in your pocket. Whether you’re scanning travel receipts on the go, capturing a signed contract on file, or just desperately trying to avoid your office’s gigantic, paper-shredding monstrosity of a scanner, you’ll surely benefit from this top-rated app. At a price of $4.99, it’s hard to turn down, especially considering the fact that older alternatives are less reliable, less portable, and much more expensive.
CamScanner in Action
Despite being a powerful app, CamScanner’s workflow is surprisingly simple and intuitive. First, you create a new document. CamScanner gives you the options of pulling a past image from your image gallery, or you can take a new picture for the purpose. Typically, you simply take a head-on photo of the first page of your document.
As soon as you select or take this photo, CamScanner offers you a well-designed cropping tool that helps you indicate the corners and edges of the document. The app does an impressive job of “guessing” where the edges of your document end. Below is an example where CamScanner found the corners and borders of my page with surprising precision. No adjustments were necessary.
Once your document is cropped and rotated appropriately (which usually takes seconds), you simply press the checkmark in the lower right corner to proceed to the next step. This next step allows you to adjust the brightness and contrast of your document. If you photo wasn’t well lit (or was overexposed), you can make accommodations to ensure that your document is clear and readable. If you’re unhappy with the cropping or even the photo itself, you can always go back to earlier steps in the process. Once you’re happy with the brightness and contrast, you press the checkmark once again.
At this point, you have several options. For multi-page documents, you can continue to add as many pages as you need, and they will be appended to the resulting PDF file. Once you’re finished with your document, you can save it as an image, email it as a PDF, or even fax it for a $0.99 fee. The fee might seem a little bothersome, but if you consider the cost of a fax machine (and a dedicated phone line), and the (hopefully) very few times that you actually send a fax, it’s well worth the cost.
There are few opportunities to take issue with CamScanner. The scans, while totally readable, are likely not as sharp, clear, or colorful compared to a larger, heavier, more expensive desktop scanner. The fax fee is also less than thrilling, but ultimately it’s a fair price for access to a fax machine and a fax line. Rolling the cost of faxing into the app’s original price tag would have been far worse for those of us who almost never send faxes. Scanning something like artwork, certificates, or other aesthetically-sensitive documents is likely best done at a copy shop. But, most of the time we just want to grab a readable, functional copy of a paper document, and CamScanner suits the purpose perfectly.
For your occasional faxing and scanning needs, CamScanner offers a great value. It’s especially helpful for those without fax lines or scanners, as well as frequent travelers who often come across materials that they wish they could digitize. You can put that bundle of oddly-shaped travel receipts away for good, and you can stop carrying around that creased, crumpled document that you’re constantly referring to. I’d highly recommend CamScanner, it’s lightened my bags, uncluttered my paper files, and helped me stay truly effective when I’m on the move.
Peter is Chief Digital Officer of CuriosityStream, a multi-platform nonfiction streaming service by the founder of Discovery Communications (Discovery Channel, Science Channel, Animal Planet, etc.). Peter is also Co-Founder of True North, a management consulting firm and digital marketing agency with clientele that includes WebMD and Salesforce.