Productivity Tip: Portable Scanning AND File Syncing

A client of mine, Margaret, recently acquired an iPad. After using the iPad camera, she realized that all of her magazine articles that she had clipped out over the past few months could be digitized! Eureka! And her question to me was: is using the camera the best option for this need?

I challenged her with a question as my answer. “Sure, that’s great to take a picture of the information you want. The photo will be stored within the camera roll on your iPad. Now how will you ensure that this new photo, or new electronic file, is organized in your own filing system and THEN that this file is then synced across all of your devices?” There was a pause at the other end of our Skype session.

Let’s review Margaret’s computing options for her job and personal needs. Margaret has a 4 yr old iMac, a 3 yr old Macbook, a 1 yr old iPhone, and an iPad3 that she primarily uses for personal correspondence and documents. At work she has a PC desktop for her teaching responsibilities. If Margaret is not careful in how she sets up her e-filing system, she will run the risk of creating multiple file versions and soon she will feel overwhelmed when she realizes – WHERE did I put that file and WHICH one is the one I need?! So by asking Margaret this question, Margaret quickly realized that there must be a better solution.

YES! Take Margaret’s idea one step further – use the iPad as a portable scanner and store that new file within a cloud-based synced folder. For Margaret that means we’ll make sure the file is stored within one of her Dropbox folders that is automatically synced across her devices.

So we need an app that optimizes scanning functionality and one that can be linked to an existing cloud account. There are lots of scanning apps to choose from – some free, some fee-based. Having used ScannerPro by Readdle for many months now, I highly recommend the $6.99 USD purchase price (at time of posting, and I have no affiliation other than I’m a highly satisfied customer). ScannerPro lets you share the new file by email, or by uploading to Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, or another WebDAV-enabled online storage solution.

Here’s a video on how to use ScannerPro to scan a magazine article and save it in Dropbox (4:39 min) .

For those of you who like the steps documented:

1. Choose the information you want to scan.

2. Lay that information as flat as possible and try to position it in the best possible light.

3. Open ScannerPro.

4. Position the camera over the information you want to capture. Avoid shadows as much as possible and do your best to hold the iPad steady.

5. Take the picture by tapping the Camera icon.

6. Adjust the borders (tap and drag each corner until you have surrounded the information you want to retain).

7. Tap Done.

8. Tap the Sharing icon at the top right of the screen.

9. Tap “Open in…”, and choose Dropbox.

10. Log in to Dropbox if asked for a passcode (depending on your settings).

11. Name the file and select the folder location.

12. Tap Done.

Think of everything that you can do with a portable scanner – scan receipts and invoices, scan handwritten notes and sketches, scan magazine articles, etc.  For me at this time, ScannerPro is easy and reliable to use and it’s my go to app many times a week.

Have fun! Susan