Document Scanner Recommendations?

I’m considering buying a document scanner, in hopes of ridding myself of boxes of papers that have accumulated over the years. Anyone have a recommendation for a small, convenient, reliable scanner? I’d prefer something that won’t take too much space (already have a combo printer/fax/flatbed scanner and second printer cluttering the study) but there are a lot of options on Amazon. Since I hate reading reviews and trust you guys more :wink: I’d love to hear thoughts from anyone who has experience with these.

Got a Canon LiDE… … n+lide+210

It is okay for short print jobs of a few pages, but if you want to scan a lot of pages at one time, it is a slow and cumbersome pain. Previously had an HP sheetfed scanner which would do about 30 sheets at a time: load the scanner, press start, and job done a minute or two later.

The flatbed scanner is so slow, time-consuming, and tedious to use. Like you, we’re digitising a lot of old documents: we should have bought a sheetfed scanner.

So my recommendation is don’t buy a Canon LiDE flatbed if you have got a ton of papers that you could easily load into a feeder and scan far more easily with another machine. But if you wanted it as a scanner for books, photos, or odd pages once in a while, it would be a good buy.

Scanner Pro on the iPad can scan pages faster than the Canon.

Not suggesting SP as a scanning workhorse; just illustrating how agonisingly slow the flatbed is.

The HP scanner was also a printer. Don’t remember the model number, but it was a great machine that produced very reliable scans…until it was dropped during a house move. :blush:

FWIW - David Sparks and Katie Floyd (MaxPowerUsers podcast) swear by the Fujitsu Scansnap range. It’s been coming on for many years now, and is highly regarded by all reviews, to the point of stating that once you buy one, it’ll be the last one you’ll need. They have one dedicated for books etc too.

It’s pricey. But when I go that way, it’s what I’ll be getting. As an aside - they’re both attorneys, and are used to having to deal with plenty of scanning. Just figured I’d mention it.

I use my iPhone and either the TextGrabber or Scanner Pro apps. Much more convenient than using my (domestic) multi-function printer even if that has a USB port and a microSD slot that would allow me to scan images direct to storage media.

There was an interesting crowd funded project, featured on a recent episode of Channel 5’s The Gadget Show, of a pocket scanner (slightly larger than a cigarette packet) that stitches pages together and then does OCR on the result.

This thread intrigued me, so I did a little research and found the link below. It’s cheap and far faster than a scanner. It also has the benefit of not forcing you to cut the spine off your books (and if you look part-way down the page, there’s a link to a PDF of the entire process of building this thing; ignore the PDF link at the top unless you want to “go pro”): … board-Box/

Could go upmarket with

Jennifer, I can’t recommend the Fujitsus Scansnap iX500 strongly enough.

Pros for scanning documents:

  • it has a very fast, convenient, virtually error-free (in my experience) sheet-feeder for up to 50 sheets (I believe it uses some kind of ultrasonic technology to prevent paper jams: the contrast with its predecessor on my desk - one jam in about every five feeds on average for me, very boring indeed - has been dramatic);

  • Mac and Windows scan-management software is included (not the best - I think ExactScan is better - but it’s good enough);

  • good OCR software is also bundled-in - to make your scans searchable (with this and Noodlesoft’s Hazel app, you can set up your system so that your scanned files more or less file themselves);

  • it’s connectable to your computer via WiFi (though note it will only connect to a single machine in this way, not a network).

  • there’s helpful advice on the iX500 and other scanning matters at (as far as I can remember there’s a free guide there on using it).


  • cost;

  • desk footprint (although this isn’t huge) - it does have a couple of cheaper “brothers” with smaller desk footprints: the iX100 and the S1300i. But if you have a large quantity of documents to scan you could quickly find that fiddling with sheet-feeding using the cheaper models will become very tedious.

  • the iX500 won’t scan un-debound books. For this, you need at least to guillotine off the spines - or invest in a more complex and expensive device.

Hope this helps.

Is that the $495 one? I watched the video for that one and you still have to turn the pages yourself, so the one where you cut up a cardboard box seemed more practical. :slight_smile:

Fujitsus Scansnap ix500 can easily be connected to Evernote, which is a good place to store and organise the stuff you scan…

Thank you all for the recommendations! The main concern is scanning old documents and pages of notes, so I don’t think I need the magnificent DIY scanner yet (although of course now I want the time to try that project…but first I need to get rid of all the old papers so we’d have somewhere to build and store the thing). There’s no worry about chopping up my books. I like my books with spines.

I’m about ready to click buy on the Fujitsus ScanSnap. That was the one that I remember coming up before in various threads, but of course the name escaped until it was said here. I knew you guys would come through for me. :slight_smile: Quick question for those who’ve used it: do you find it works well with handwritten papers? I don’t expect the OCR to work for that, but I’d like to get a decent image/PDF clear enough for me to read without it being so large I fill up the hard drive with just a few of them.*

Oh, another question, if anyone has experience: is it easy to switch between computers and platforms? It’s not much of an issue either way, as in all likelihood once we decide on our filing system it won’t change frequently, but assuming I get my act together, I’ll have a bunch of stuff that I’ll want to dump straight to my Mac, and there will be heaps of other stuff probably going to a storage drive by way of Windows.

  • Probably an exaggeration, as HD sizes are increasing.**
    ** But then I’ve found my stuff always magically expands to fill the space.

Evernote can OCR handwritten text in picture files. :slight_smile:

If the Mac(s) and storage device are on the same network there are no real issues. Mac OS X can handle that straight out the box. Scan the network and connect to the device. If the device is attached to a Windows box share it out and proceed as above.

You can’t go wrong with ScanSnap. Lots of people/companies recommend them; people I know who own them, love them; I haven’t read a bad review yet; I’d like one.

Having said that, I have an Epson multifunction with a sheet feeder and it works perfectly fine. I love being able to dump a pile of documents into the feeder, walk back to my computer and wirelessly scan them all to my desktop (or other folder of my choice).

You shouldn’t have any issues with handwritten papers. The only problem I’ve had was scanning some notes from the early 70s that were on foolscap paper – slightly too long for my scanner to handle automatically.

Key point: make sure the scanner has a sheet feeder!

I have the ScanSnap i500 (two years). What an easy solution. The beauty of this scanner, it is dead simple and reliable. It changed my way of handling receipts so I never have to touch anything or mail anything.

When I have more than 10 minutes I have 30+ years of handwritten notes that I want to put through it. But I estimate it will be 2025 before I can do that. :smiley: :laughing:

Me too.

I’ve used mine to file a large number of hand-written docs - still (as) legible (as my hand-writing ever has been).

You do find that that if you have a lot of paper to scan, the megabytes mount up. But handwritten documents are really no greedier than printed text. You can keep the total down by measures such as scanning to black-and-white, and reducing the dots-per-inch count of the scan (but don’t go below 300 dpi for printed text if you want to OCR the result). However, one thing to remember is that the ScanSnap is unlikely to be your last investment if you decide to scan a lot. To take the scans, you may want to invest in an external hard-disk, and the cost of backups - if you want to back up your scans - is likely to rise, however you do them.

I’ve just checked the DVD-ROM that came with my iX500: it has both Windows and Mac software on it. And on the DocumentSnap site (see my previous post), I believe there’s a recent contribution describing a relatively simple way to switch from one computer to another - although it is true to say that Fujitsu could have made this a lot easier. (With earlier ScanSnap models the absence of inter-operability used to be a recurrent point of criticism. To switch platforms, you had to download software from the Interweb, and do some hacks - or spend £400 to buy a new machine. No longer.)

As regards nom’s point about the Epson - I believe there’s a recent Epson model that could be regarded as a form of flattery of the ScanSnap… But I’ve never tried it.

In my suggestion you should buy Sheet-fed Scanners because this type of document scanner can digitalise documents sheet by sheet and operates almost like a fax machine. You feed documents in one end, they are passed over a sensor and converted into an electronic file. Most sheet-fed document scanners have an automatic document feeder which can take multiple pages in a row. Sheet-fed devices are the ideal document scanners for companies required to scan high volumes.

I have some bound issues of Railway Age magazine from the 1950s which I’d like to scan. They’re printed on a non-standard oversize (9" by 12") page format and have 26 weekly issues in each volume…over 1000 pages; very hard to open flat. I’ve had some success with using the book scanner at one of the local universities, but I’d be interested in acquiring my own scanner for these and other volumes if I can do so at a reasonable cost (roughly $500 or less). Any recommendations?

Something like the CZUR range may have what you need. I think they have yet another version coming out soon. Here’s an example: … 179&sr=8-4

I hired a person to scan in my whole library from 2010-2017. For that we used a specialized book scanner from Plustek … k-scanners which allows you to scan without breaking the spine of the book. (I wore out two scanners.) I then donated my whole library to a school.

If I had to scan in a whole library myself I would use a high resolution camera(s) and a set up from

As an experiment I used this design … board-Box/ to scan in a few books that accumulated after the project was over. I was not satisfied with the quality compared to the Plustek. With the Plustek I was getting 600dpi quality every time which makes a big difference when you OCR the book later (I use Abobe Clearscan, but Adobe has got a better upgrade that I will use when I get newer version of Acrobat).

But with the camera you have to have a good enough camera so the you can lock the focus and has a very high resolution (expensive) . You also have to develop a workflow so that you position the book in exactly the same place. The reason for that will become apparent when it comes to post-processing the book. And believe me you will have to post-process the book if you want quality similar to the Plustek and you value your eyes. There are a lot of free post-processing tools available at the DIYscanner site but they are all PC based as the Mac versions are now obsolete. But I got them working using Win 10 in Parallels.

So if you are only doing occasional book scanning like I now do, and you want high quality scans then I would go with the Plustek. If you are satisfied with a lower quality of scan go with the camera solution.

If you have a large number of books/magazines to scan, and want high quality scans and you can’t afford to hire someone (I was living in India at the time so it was affordable) then use the the DYIscanner set up but with an expensive camera to ensure high resolution and ability to lock the focus on the page (you do not want to have to refocus for every page).

Looks interesting, and portable enough to bring to a Library. :smiley: I wonder what the actual output is like in real life work?

I read the reviews, it only gives a max of 240 dpi resolution. No where near the quality of a good scanner.