I recently learned on one of the many terrific Facebook genealogy groups I belong to (I apologize that I don’t remember which one), about a little gem hiding in the iPhone and iPad. I’ve been using an iPhone since I bought a 4S back in 2012 (the same year I started this blog!), but I had never heard about this feature. It’s the scanner feature on the native Notes app.
I don’t use the Notes app much, since I tend to use Evernote to actually keep notes, but I’ve used it off and on over the year. Since I learned about the scanner feature, I’ve using it every time I have a piece of paper I want to capture. I’ve found it easier than using a dedicated scanning app. And it’s handy sometimes that creates a pdf, rather than a jpg.
Here’s how it works:
Let’s say you’re in a library or repository and find a document you want to save.
- Open the Notes app on your iPhone or iPad.
- Press the icon to create a new note.
- Touch the icon that looks like a + sign inside a circle.
- Touch Scan Documents
- Position your phone above the document.
The app will try to locate the edges of the document and take the picture automatically. (It’s like my bank’s app when I’m doing a mobile deposit of a check.) If it can’t find the corners quickly, you can press the round shutter-release icon (like on the camera app) and take the picture and then adjust the corners as necessary. For books that aren’t lying flat, that’s more likely to happen.
For pieces of paper, the photo tends to get taken automatically. It’s really fast and easy–it feels like magic.
Once you have the scan, you can press Save, or you can press the little icon of the picture and then retake it. Once you press Save, you can keep it in your Notes app for processing later or use the Share icon to either email it to yourself or save it in Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive or other apps that might work for you.
On my next research trip, I will give it a try. I think it will save time over just using my phone’s camera, as I did on my Kentucky trip.
One caveat: I understand that in the latest iOS iteration from Apple, the iPad has its own operating system, rather than sharing the iPhone’s. I have not downloaded iOS 13 yet (I like to wait until the kinks are worked out before downloading) and I don’t use an iPad. I’m assuming this feature will exist in the new iOS for the iPhone and the iPad, but I haven’t tried it.