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Tool Tip #6: Digital Scans with your Smartphone

To create a professional-looking document or image scan, the key component is at your fingertips: your smartphone. Yes, you also need good lighting and a steady hand, but once you test the mobile scanning software we recommend, you will be delighted to observe that the end products rival the quality of scans from traditional scanners.

Which Scanning App is Best?

Both iOS and Android app stores offer a multitude of scanning apps. We recommend two that are both free and easy to use:

Generally, look for scanning apps that are easy to use, offer excellent image quality and accurate text recognition, editing features, flexibility in the formats that you would like captured (e.g., tax form, book page, whiteboard, etc.), and multiple options for export. Free is great, too!

Using Adobe Scan on Your Smartphone adobe scan icon
  1. Find the app in the App Store or Google Play and then install it on your device.  
  2. After installing, sign into your Adobe account by using your Northwestern email address (Northwestern has an enterprise account which allows staff and faculty to use the Adobe software suite). Select “sign in or sign up” from the initial page, and then select “Company or School Account.” adobe scan sign-in image
  3. After you enter your University email, the Northwestern Online Passport page will prompt you for your NetID and password.
  4. By default, your scans are saved to the Adobe Document Cloud, but you can also make the following choices:
    • Save Originals to Photos. Select the home icon and then the gear icon in the top left of your screen. Select “Preferences.” Turn on the “Save Originals to Photos” option, under “Save Images.” You can then always save a copy of any scan you create directly to your smartphone by selecting “Save as PDF.”
    • Share: Email. After creating a scan, select “Share.” You can then choose to send the file in an email to a Northwestern address or to an external address.
    • Share: Share a Copy. After creating a scan, select “Share” and then select “Share a Copy” to view the many options available. You can share with AirDrop on an iPhone, or you can share to MS Teams, Google Drive, Slack, Dropbox, text messaging, and so on.

For detailed help with the Scan app and for step-by-step instructions from Adobe, use Adobe’s excellent Adobe Scan Mobile Help site. Adobe also provides getting started and FAQ support pages.

Using Microsoft Office Lens on Your Smartphone microsoft lens icon image
  1. Find the app in the App Store or Google Play and then install it on your device. 
  2. After installing, select “Allow Access” to allow the app to access the camera on your smartphone. You may also choose to select “OK” to allow the app to access the photo library on your smartphone.
  3. Before creating a scan, choose the original format of the item you are scanning: Whiteboard, Document, Business Card, or Photo.
  4. Once you are satisfied with the scan-cropping and optional annotations, select “Done” to view a variety of export and save options.
    • Save your scan to your Photo Library, PDF, OneDrive, OneNote, Word, or PowerPoint.
    • Share your scan to Outlook, Mail, Immersive Reader or any other app or option on your smartphone such as AirDrop, text messaging, email, MS Teams, Slack, Google Drive and so on.
      • “Immersive Reader” is an impressive feature that reads the scanned text aloud to you.

For detailed help and for step-by-step instructions from Microsoft, find the web page for your platform:

Tool Tip #7: Ergonomics at Home

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