How to Scan Documents With Your iPhone in Three Quick Steps

The document scanning feature found in Apple's stock Notes app is a great way to digitize all sorts of print-based content, from letters and receipts to recipes and photos.

If you often make a digital record of paper in this way, you'll be familiar with the typical steps involved: unlock your device, launch the Notes app from the Home screen, create a new note, tap the "+" button, choose Scan Documents, then line up the document you want to shoot and save.

It's not immediately obvious, but there is a way to cut out several of these steps and make scanning a document a much quicker process, which is great news if you tend to scan things several times a day. First, you'll want to add Notes to the Control Center, like so:

  1. Launch the Settings app.

  2. Tap Control Center.

  3. In the More Controls list, tap the green "+" button next to the Notes entry.

Now that's set up, you can get to the document scanning screen in fewer steps, as described below.

How to Scan Documents in Three Quick Steps


  1. Launch Control Center from the Lock screen: On iPhone 8 or earlier, swipe up from the bottom of the screen; on iPhone X/XS/XR, swipe down from the upper right "ear".

  2. Hard press (or long press) the Notes icon.

  3. Tap Scan Document and allow Face ID to automatically authenticate you (If you're using an iPhone with Touch ID, place your finger on the Home screen to unlock.)

You're now ready to scan your document and save it as a note.

Don't forget, if you want to generate a PDF of the scan as soon as it's been saved as a note, simply tap the Share Sheet icon (the box with an arrow pointing out) at the upper-right of the screen and select Create PDF from the third row of options.

Once it's generated you'll be offered the option to save it to the Files app, or you can share it elsewhere with another tap of the Share Sheet icon.

Related Roundup: iOS 12


Top Rated Comments

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4 weeks ago
Now where’s the built in OCR?
Rating: 15 Votes
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4 weeks ago
Just FYI, you don’t NEED to add it to control center...you can just force touch or long press the regular notes app icon.
Rating: 14 Votes
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4 weeks ago
I didn’t even know that scanning was an option in the notes app. I’ve been using ScannerPro by Readdle for years. It’s an excellent app. Highly recommend it.
Rating: 13 Votes
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4 weeks ago
Apple has got to remake this process. Two taps of the share sheet to save a PDF? And the worst part is you can't even name the .pdf file. For that, you have to open the Files app, then navigate to the folder where the PDF is saved, long press the file, tap change name, change name. Why can't we do this directly from the Files share sheet? Makes no sense.
Rating: 8 Votes
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4 weeks ago
Love it! I forget about Control Center. I should be using it more.
Rating: 6 Votes
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4 weeks ago

That’s too many steps. I rather use my printers app. 3 taps and it’s done.

Three steps is too many? You'd rather do three other steps? o_O



Rating: 6 Votes
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4 weeks ago

That’s too many steps. I rather use my printers app. 3 taps and it’s done.

I don't think anyone expects any camera based scanner to replace a flat bed. There are tons of reasons that a flat bed may be better. However, if you are, you know, out and away from your printer, you have a workable if somewhat rudimentary solution in your phone.

I agree with the other poster, let's get some OCR going :)
Rating: 5 Votes
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4 weeks ago
This is a great feature and one that I use all the time. However, it’s frustrating that Notes still doesn’t have OCR for scanned docs. It’s especially puzzling since they’ve had OCR for handwritten notes for a while now...just not for scanned documents. Hopefully this will be fixed soon.
Rating: 5 Votes
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4 weeks ago

Problem is, I still don't understand exactly what you mean. How can you rename it other than adding a title to the Note which will then serve as file name?


It's not the simplest or the most intuitive, but once you save the scan into a note, tap the scan to open it, then tap on the title.


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I just want Apple to make the box with the file name in the collapsed folder view in Save in Files tapable. That would be how you do it on a Mac — choosing a file name in the Save As... Box. And, I have reported all of this to Apple via the feedback forum but it takes them years to implement such simple stuff, it is a bit annoying they haven't figured this out themselves. One could be forgiven believing they don't even use their own products.


Agreed. There's tons of simple crap like this that makes iOS so much of a PITA when you actually try to do any work on it.





Rating: 3 Votes
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4 weeks ago
Great tip. I’ve been using a scanner app but I will give this a try. Thanks!
Rating: 3 Votes
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