Monday, December 1, 2014


Usually I download an app to my phone, only to find a few weeks later that I never use it and it ends up being deleted. Some apps like Feedly wheedle themselves into your daily life. But rarely does an app become more and more useful as time goes on. Such an app is Scanbot.

For the last couple of years I have been going paperless, scanning most documents I receive on a flat-bed scanner and dumping the paper. It’s worth it to save collecting boxes of receipts, warranties and bills but it’s a tedious process, especially if I let the paperwork back up for a few weeks.

Then I found Scanbot - Android (free), iOS (paid). Here’s the deal; put your document on a flat surface, hold your phone over the document, pause and the document is ‘scanned’ - actually photographed, squared off, trimmed and saved as a PDF. Multi-page documents are no problem and get combined into a multi-page PDF. Super easy and I can scan documents as they arrive and immediately bin the paper. Scanned documents are automatically uploaded to my Dropbox account (other cloud services are supported).

Then I found another use. Turning the hundreds of old family photos into digital. My digital photo library started in 2001. Before that it is folders of printed photos collected over a few decades of camera toting family life. I didn’t have very high hopes but scanbot, combined with my phone’s 13Mp camera, does a wonderful job of turning the prints into reasonable digital images. Colours are true and, while you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, a few tweaks in Lightroom can often improve on the quality of original print.

The results are perfectly usable for online use and for reprinting at the original size. I probably wouldn’t print larger, but this was from a wallet sized print taken in 1982:

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