How to Scan Documents or Photos in Windows 10


There are several ways to scan documents and photos with Windows 10. Let’s review the options as well as modern alternatives.

There are multiple ways to scan a document or photo in Windows 10. You might be wondering, who needs to scan stuff in this digital decade? Unfortunately, there are many circumstances in which paper is still the preferred or default format. Banking and Government documents for taxes, for example, still show up at the house in paper form — ick.. normally arrive at my house

In this article, I will review a few ways you can scan a document using a physical scanner or the free Office Lens app for Windows 10. After all, who wants to be buried under a mountain of unsearchable paper documents?

Windows 10 – Scan Documents, Business Cards, or Photos using a Scanner

Even in 2017, it’s hard to beat the quality of a dedicated document or flatbed scanner. On Amazon, Prices range from $50 to $400 depending on the features, speed, etc…If you want advice, stick with the big brands like Canon, Epson, or Brother. Look for the highest number of reviews combined with a high Amazon rating (4+ stars) and you should be just fine. So, once you get set up with your printer and get it configured with Windows 10, it’s time to start scanning!

Windows 10 includes a built-in scan utility, which you can access from the printer context menu.

Click Start, type: devices and printer then hit Enter. Right-click your scanner or printer, then click Start Scan.

Users have several options on the screen which let you preview the document, choose a color format (color or black and white), adjust brightness, set the appropriate resolution, and even choose the format you want to save it in: JPEG, PDF, or PNG. If you are satisfied with the results after reviewing the document, proceed to click Scan.

Make your selections, Click Preview to ensure everything looks good then click Scan.

After giving your scanned document a Name, add a few tags to make it easier to search for later. Click Import.

Your scanned document can normally be found in Pictures within the scanned files folder.

With each revision of Windows 10, Microsoft is slowly deprecating parts of the classic desktop and the built-in scan utility might become the next victim. Microsoft released a modern universal app you can download from the Windows Store called Windows Scan.

Depending on when you’re reading this article, the Windows Scan app might be the best place to start scanning paper documents or photos. If you updated to Windows 10 from 8, you might even have it installed. That said, I had to blow away the app from my Windows 10 box and reinstall it from the Windows Store. Something must have been corrupted during the Windows 8 to 10 upgrade.

The User Interface of Scanner

The interface is quite similar to the old scanning utility. You can preview your document, crop it before scanning the final document, adjust resolution, select appropriate file formats and choose your save location.

When ready, click Scan then review the scanned document.

Scan Documents, Business Cards or Photos or Whiteboards using a Mobile Phone

Although once very popular, many people just don’t buy scanners anymore. No worries, Microsoft also makes an excellent mobile app called Office Lens. We’ve written about the iPhone/iPad version in detail however it also works well on Android.

Download Links:

The Office Lens app scans photos, whiteboards, business cards, and documents quickly and easily. It’s fully integrated with other Microsoft apps like OneDrive, Word, and OneNote.

It’s simple to use, just launch Office Lens, tap the scanner tab, then choose the type of content to scan. Office Lens will optimize its settings and create a frame around the document when it is recognized.

Tap the camera button to capture the file, preview the document then make further adjustments such as cropping or saving it in the desired format.

After scanning your document, there are other tasks you might want to perform such as adding a label, crop, delete it or save it for use in OneNote, OneDrive, Word, or PowerPoint. All of these apps available in the Office suite as part of Microsoft 365.

Summing Up

So, that’s a look at scanning documents and photos in Windows 10, both old and new. I must admit, using a dedicated flatbed scanner still remains the best choice for scanning documents; if you want the best quality. That said, it’s hard to beat the convenience and speed of a mobile combined with Onedrive. Sure, the quality might not be as good but, in most cases, it’s probably good enough.



  1. Tom Pagh

    February 22, 2017 at 6:35 am

    I’ve never used the process you have described to scan documents, but will have give it a try. I have two flatbed scanners and use the HP scan software. However, when away from my office I use an iPhone app called “DocSanner”. It uses the iPhone camera. Once the image of the document, or sunset, etc. is captured you can crop, change dark/light settings, or rotate. Once complete you have the options to email as PDF or JPEG. You can upload to Dropbox, Evernote, eFax or HP eprint. You can even add a signature. The app also has an OCR option. Not bad for a free app!!

    • Steve Krause

      February 22, 2017 at 10:37 am

      SCANNABLE is another great app. I use it a lot for scanning all my documents. You can create multi-page PDF documents with it and then either save the scan to your iPhone or email it. Works great. Might want to give that a look also.


      • Ken from Florida

        February 22, 2017 at 11:29 am

        Steve, is Scannable the Evernote app? If so, do you need to use Evernote to use the Scannable app?

    • Ken from Florida

      February 22, 2017 at 11:34 am

      I’ve been using CamScanner, another free app, on my iPhone. I don’t use it often but it’s worked well when I have used it.

  2. Ken from Florida

    February 22, 2017 at 6:58 am

    Hi Andre,
    Thanks for the article- it was very informative. I have been using my Canon scanner’s own software.
    I just tried the printer context method, which worked fine for me. The Scan app doesn’t work for me. The Preview only shows a fraction of the document, and the Scan button returns an error every time. (I’m using Win 10 upgraded from Win 8.1, and killed the app and reloaded from the store. No joy). In any event, I’m more than happy with the printer context option!

    • Andre Da Costa

      February 22, 2017 at 5:33 pm

      Are you sure the anchors are not hiding the viewable able area of the document? Remember, they can be adjusted to your liking. Some users have reported issues with it, looks like its not universally accepted by different devices.

      • Ken from Florida

        February 22, 2017 at 5:38 pm

        Yes, I’ve moved the anchor points in and out to their max, still can’t manage to make the app recognize that it’s an 8.5 x 11 document. I can’t find a way to change the doc size.
        I’ll leave that app to MS and use the other techniques. I may use Office Lens on my phone more than the flatbed scanner now…..thanks for highlighting that app!

  3. Donna Cooke

    February 26, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    I have searched the windows store and cannot find any app named windows scanner. what am I doing wrong?

    • Tom Pagh

      February 26, 2017 at 2:37 pm

      Try “DocScanner” in the iTunes app store.

    • Vacantzioner

      August 17, 2017 at 6:57 am

      It is called simply Scan.

  4. Steve

    May 9, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    As a blind guy, I do a lot of scanning as using OCR enables me to read printed documents. This works very well using Office Lense on iOS as I get verbal feedback about how I can better position the camera. My main problem, however, is how to best scan on Windows: the Office Lense app for Windows 10 doesn’t let me choose my scanner as a source and the Windows Scan app doesn’t seem to let me scan multiple pages. If anyone knows of a way I can scan multiple pages and then import to OneNote via Office Lense, I’d be super appreciative. Thanks again for an awesome article.

  5. Don

    May 19, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    How do you add ‘pdf’ to the win 10 64 ed: 1702 ‘Fax & Scan’ app choices?

  6. Chad

    September 11, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Yeah, non of that worked. This new windows is terrible. Every other version was simple to use scanner. Not one single idea given got me to the scan function. Hook up older laptop with xp and seconds away. Windows 10 makes most things harder to do. Computer already had it or we would remove and go to older more useful version.

    • Piet Oosthuizen

      April 13, 2020 at 6:32 am

      You are 100% right. I hate Windows 10

  7. Ken Stevenson

    February 20, 2018 at 10:01 am

    Thanks for solving my inability to crop my scans using the new app Windows downloaded when they reloaded Windows 10 on my computer. Nothing helpful on the Windows help site.

  8. Paul

    March 29, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    I installed a HP AIO (6830) on my network. It seems to work fine for printing and scanning and the R-Click “Devices and Printers” method works exactly as the article outlines. HOWEVER, the “Scan” app doesn’t – While it will allow me to Scan and will successfully store the resulting file, it does NOT show a “Preview” button, won’t allow me to select the area to scan and won’t allow me to select resolution – as the screenshots in this article show…

    Clearly the scanner is functioning OK because I can scan and change resolution etc via the R-Click method (and it works fine on me Mac tooO, but why is the “Scan” app not showing these options to me?

  9. Jack Carter

    December 10, 2019 at 11:09 am

    Why doesn’t Scan allow scanning documents into the pdf format? Why would anyone want to scan a 6 page document into 6 individual jpg files, which is what Scan does. Makes no sense not to scan into pdf format. Typical MS garbage.

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