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Home / Tips and Tricks / Apple has a document scanner built into iOS 11, and it’s pretty cool

Apple has a document scanner built into iOS 11, and it’s pretty cool


Your iPhone or iPad also acts as a document scanner. You just have to know where to look.

Angela Lang / CNET

If you don’t have such luxury all-in-one printers that includes a scanner, it can seem like an impossible task to be asked to sign, scan and send a document. Not to mention a task from ten years ago.

But you may have a scanner in your hand. Instead of buying a new printer or going to the office to scan a document, you can use your iPhone or iPad

I don’t mean taking a picture and then cropping it – that’s more work than it’s worth. Better to use the document scanner buried in the Notes app. The feature was added in iOS 11 in 2017, but if you’re not using Apple’s Notes app you’d never know it was there.

Below I’ll show you where to find the scanner, how to use it, and give some general tips on how to get the most out of its hidden feature.


It’s hidden under a few taps, but the option is definitely there.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Scan a document with your iPhone, iPad

Place the document (s) on a flat surface, in a well-lit area. Open the Comments app and create a new note or open an existing note. I have created a folder called Scanned Documents where I can store and easily find everything I have scanned.

With a note open, tap it camera icon thereafter Scan documents

Your iPhone or iPad opens the camera, complete with a shutter button at the bottom of the screen. Don’t push it yet; Instead, follow the instructions on your screen. For best results, hold your device directly over the document.

A yellow box will appear when the camera starts scanning and searches for the document. You will see tips such as ‘get closer’ as your device scans for the edges and corners of the paper. Once it identifies the whole document, it will automatically scan it. If your iPhone has trouble finding the document, you can press the shutter button.

A small thumbnail of each page is displayed in the lower left corner and the scanner remains open to continue scanning multiple pages. When you’re done, tap Save.


It’s impressive to see the Notes app scan and find the footprint of a document.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Make adjustments to get the perfect scan

After you scan the document, you can make adjustments, such as defining the corners if the scan is not quite right, changing the color scheme, rotating the document, or adding more pages.

Tap the document to open it and you’ll find all the editing tools at the bottom of the screen. Use the crop tool to adjust the corners, or cut out a portion of the document if you don’t want to include that information.

I’ve found that the easiest way to use the crop tool is to place your finger near the small circle on each corner of the document, each of which acts as a magnifying glass. That gives you a better view of your adjustments rather than obscuring them.


There are plenty of tools and options for what you can do with your new scan.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Sign, share or save your scanned document

Now that you’ve scanned and adjusted a document, you have a few options. You can keep it in the Notes app for future use, or you can sign and share it.

To open the share sheet when viewing a document, tap the share button in the top right corner of the screen. To add your signature, scroll below the app shortcuts and tap MarkupThe markup tool has tools to draw, write or add text or to add your signature. Tap the “+” sign to view all tools.

When you’re done signing or annotating the document, you can email it, save it to the Files app, or treat it like any other document on your iPhone or iPad.

Now that you know what Apple’s hidden scanner feature is, take care of it check out more hidden features we found in iOS 14If you’d rather handle a scanned document on your Mac, here’s how how to scan the document with your iPhone and send it straight to your Mac. For more common but ever so useful iOS 14 tips, take a look at this

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