How to Scan Documents Into PDF

Four Methods:WindowsMac OS XConverting an Image to PDF (Windows)Converting an Image to PDF (OS X)

PDF stands for Portable Document Format. This format helps to maintain the design of a document regardless of the software it was created in. Converting pages of text and graphics to PDF results in a much more manageable-sized electronic file that can be read on a Mac or PC.

Method 1

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    Connect your scanner to your computer via USB or network. The process for installing your scanner will vary depending on the model, but generally you can simply plug it into your computer via USB and Windows will automatically install the correct software. Your scanner may also come with its own software, but this isn't always necessary to install.
    • To add a network scanner, connect the scanner to your local network via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, open the Devices and Printers section of the Control Panel, and then click Add a printer. Select your network scanner from the list and follow the prompts to install it.
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    Install the scanner drivers if Windows doesn't automatically. If Windows doesn't recognize your scanner, you'll need to download the drivers from the scanner's support page. Find the manufacturer and model of the scanner by inspecting it. The model number is usually displayed along the front or top of the scanner.
    • Visit the support page for the manufacturer and enter your model into the search engine. Download the drivers for your scanner along with any programs that may be required to scan.
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    Place the document into the scanner bed or into the feeder. Some scanners can scan multiple pages, while others just have a traditional scanner bed. Refer to the indicators on the scanner to orient your page correctly.
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    Set your scanner's format to PDF (varies by model). Many newer scanners have menu displays that allow you to set the output format directly from the scanner. If you are able to, set your out format to PDF.
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    Press the "Scan" or "Start" button on the scanner (varies by model). For most scanners on modern versions of Windows, you can simply push the Scan or Start button and the scanner will begin scanning the document. A notification will appear on your screen indicating that the scan is underway. When the scanning is completed, the PDF file will appear on your computer. The ability to do this varies depending on the scanner.
    • For most scanners, the new file will appear in your Documents or Pictures folder with the date as the file name.
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    Use a scanning program if you can't start scanning from the scanner. If you can't start the scanning process from the scanner itself, you may need to use a program in Windows to start the scan. Your scanner may have specific software that can be downloaded from the manufacturer, or you can use a variety of different utilities:
    • Adobe Acrobat allows you to create PDFs from the scanner. Click the "File" menu, select "Create", then "PDF from Scanner". Select the type of document you are scanning, and then switch pages on the scanner when prompted.
    • If you want to scan your PDF with OCR (Optical Character Recognition), you'll need an advanced scanning program. These typically cost a few hundred dollars, but will allow you to scan your documents into searchable PDF files.
    • If you need a free solution, one of the most popular freeware options is "Not Another PDF Scanner 2". Be careful when installing, as it may attempt to install adware along with it.

Method 2
Mac OS X

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    Make sure that your scanner drivers are up to date. You can use the "Software Update" option in the Apple menu to check that your hardware is up to date.
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    Place the document onto the bed of the scanner. If you are scanning multiple pages, place them into the document feeder if your scanner has one.
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    Open the Image Capture program. You can find this in your Applications folder.
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    Check the "Use Document Feeder" box if you are scanning multiple pages at once. This requires OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) or newer.
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    Select the document size in the page size drop-down menu. By default, it will be set to your system's default page size.
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    Click the .Show Details button. By default, Image Capture will scan your documents into JPG format. In order to change this, you will need to open the Show Details menu.[1]
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    Click the "Format" menu and select "PDF".
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    In the "Name" field, enter the filename that you want to save your document as.
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    Set where you want the files saved with the "Scan To" menu.
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    Press the .Scan button. The document will be scanned into the program. Double check the quality and make sure that everything is lined up properly.
    • When you scan, the document is automatically created. If the quality does not match your needs, adjust your settings and rescan the document.

Method 3
Converting an Image to PDF (Windows)

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    Download CutePDF. This program acts as a digital printer that will convert the document or image you choose into PDF when you select Print. This is great if your scanner saves scanned files as JPG image files.
    • Visit to download CutePDF for free.
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    Download Ghostscript. This allows CutePDF to perform the conversion. It can be downloaded from the same page as CutePDF.
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    Install Ghostscript. Run the downloaded converter.exe file to install it.
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    Install CutePDF. Follow the prompts to install CutePDF as a printer subsystem.
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    Open the image or document you want to convert. You can open it in any program that allows you to print.
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    Open the Print menu. You can usually find this in the File menu, or by pressing Ctrl + P.
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    Select "CutePDF" from the list of printers. Use the drop-down menu to select it.
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    Click Template:Print. You will be prompted to select a location to save the converted file to. Click Save after selecting a location. Your new PDF will be created.

Method 4
Converting an Image to PDF (OS X)

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    Open the image in Preview. This utility comes installed with OS X, saving you the hassle of having to install conversion software.
    • Images are usually set to open in Preview by default.
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    Click the File menu and select "Export".
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    Click the "Format" drop-down menu and select "PDF".
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    Click Save.

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Using PDF Files