How to Scan Documents Using Your Smartphone or Tablet

photo of a document
Image courtesy of [Arvind Balaraman] /
No scanner? But in need to scan a document in order to fix some billing issues? No worries! There’s a super easy way to scan documents without having to buy an actual scanner.

All you need is your smartphone or tablet and an internet connection.

Recently, I had to send a letter of request to BPI in order to correct an error. I had to request for a payment to be reversed, and in order to do that, I had to send the BPI guys a scanned letter.

The problem was I didn’t have a scanner. The 3-in-1 printer that I had (which was also a scanner) had been broken a year ago. Luckily, I remembered I came across an app that could be used as as a scanner (browsing apps actually paid off!). 🙂

Basically, what it does is convert images using your phone or tablet’s camera to PDF files.

Step 1: Prepare the document.

 You can practically scan any type of document (e.g. receipts, bills, letters).

In my case, I had to manually write a letter detailing the request. I made the payment online, so I didn’t have to scan a receipt—just the letter.

Step 2: Download TinyScan (for iOS) or CamScanner (for Android)

Both of these apps are free. There are other similar apps, but so far TinyScan and CamSanner are the two of the highest rated apps.

For Tinyscan, you can upgrade the app for $4.99 to get extra features like scanning unlimited documents, batch mode scanning, and allowing you to save documents in the cloud.

I really didn’t need to upgrade because I’m probably going to use this app once or twice.

Step 3: Take a photo of the document.

photo of a receipt
I can’t show you the actual letter that I wrote because it contains account numbers, so for this post, I just scanned a receipt.


 After taking a photo, you can easily crop the image. This way the app only saves the actual receipt or letter.

 screenshot of a receipt using tinyscan

Tinyscan allows you to choose three settings on how you want your “scanned” document to look.

Voila! Now, the receipt is “scanned”: 🙂

image of the receipt scanned using tinyscan
I personally like the B&W and GrayScale setting because the document looks like it was actually scanned. Or it looks like I scanned a photocopied version of the document. You can’t tell that a camera was used instead of an actual scanner, right?

The process for Camscanner is practically the same. The only difference is the added features. Plus, Camscanner comes with ads.

After saving the image, you can send the scanned document as a PDF file to your bank or other businesses through email. Businesses would usually give you a fax number, but  insist on asking for the email instead (that’s what I did). Sending an email takes a few seconds, and you can send it right from your smartphone.

You can use these scanner apps for other purposes–not just fixing billing issues. 🙂 You can  scan ID’s, a page from a book, or old letters!

I think students and professionals alike might find this app helpful!

I hope that I won’t encounter any issues with my bills anymore. But just in case it happens again, I’m confident that I’ve got an awesome app to help me with scanning documents. 🙂

What do you usually do when you have to scan documents and don’t have a scanner around?








Irene Chan

Irene Chan

Irene Chan loves two things: communication and technology. With this tech blog and her role as Head of Communications at Veems, she believes she has the best job in the world. 🙂 Besides those two things, she's also crazy for coffee, dogs, and zombies.Follow her on Veems to get tips and fun updates from her geeky life.
Irene Chan

  • Hello Irene,

    Well i’m student and scanning documents is really necessary for students. The Camscanner is really awesome app which i’ve just tried and i’m amazed to check the scanned copies quality. I mean the quality of scanned documents is really neat and nice.

    thanks for the great share.

    • Irene Enriquez

      I’m glad you found this helpful, Sohail. I wish I had this app when I was a student! :)It’s been a long time though since I was in school.hehe At that time, there were no iOS and Android OS.

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  • Innocent

    I count find a scanner for my blackberry smartphone

    • Irene Enriquez

      I think it’s only available on Android and iOS. Try reading this thread.