When you need to scan documents there are many options available. Depending on what you need to scan, there are even several options that are really close at hand. As close as your phone actually. But the place you need to scan is also related to what you want to scan.
Certain documents or images will be easier to scan at home with desktop scanner or something similar. Other documents might require a scanner with a document feeder, or you might need a large format scanner.
What do you need to scan?
Scanning is actually the relatively basic process of converting a hard copy image or document into a digital copy in a file format of your choice. So depending on the document or image you can either save it in a pdf with multiple pages, or a high quality jpg or a range of other options depending on your needs.
So the first thing you need to determine is what you want to scan and for what purpose. Once you know what you need from the file, you can then find a place or scanner that fits your needs. So let’s take a look at some of the options:
Scanning with your smart phone
Smart phones are getting more and more versatile each year. They can even scan documents now if you need to quickly get something in a digital form. They don’t necessarily offer the same quality as dedicated scanners, but if you aren’t fussy, or really need something to be scanned quickly they do the job.
There are a few apps that you can try depending on your phone’s OS (operating System) that can help you scan a document at home, in class or on the road.
There are many different options, but all of these apps work with your phone’s camera and will convert an image of text into a pdf, or a jpg. It will depend on what you need from it, and what type of app you choose to use. The quality will be focused so you can read the text, or convert it to something you can edit. Some offer nice features like cropping or enhancing the text image before you save it.
It will take a little experimentation before you find an app that works best for you but they will give you a little more than just a standard phone picture. But if you need to quickly scan a few pages it will save you time and effort. This is a great option, especially if you don’t have immediate access to a place that offers scanning don’t have your own scanner, or just don’t want to spend money on a few pages.
Scanning with a desktop scanner
Scanning documents at home with a desktop scanner is an easy solution to most scanning jobs you will encounter. There are many different options available when it comes to desktop scanning. You can get a small A4 standard size scanner for a very reasonable price.
You can also choose to buy a scanner that is integrated with a printer and copier. A scanner like this will also often come with its own software included, but you can easily download different software solutions as well.
The user manual or installation disk makes this process really easy (most of the time) and there are often help forums on the website of the company who made your scanner.
Scan at a print or copy shop
IF you don’t need to scan documents on a regular or recurring basis, then buying a scanner probably isn’t the best use of your funds. If you just need to scan one or two documents and email it to someone, or quickly add it to an assignment, a copy shop is a good place to start. There are many different places that offer scanning services.
Libraries are a good start, and if you are in a college or university town there will be a range of options. A traditional print or copy shop should also be able to help you, and some companies that offer office and courier services will also have scanning facilities. A quick search online should give you enough results in your area that you can decide where the best place to scan will be.
If you are on the road you can also check with the hotel you stay at. Often hotels will have small business centers where you can use a printer, scanner and so on, to get things done while you are not at your own office.
Pay a company to do specialist or bulk scanning
There are also other solutions if you have more complex scanning needs. You might have large documents that will take ages to scan at a library. You could also have maps or other large format documents that will need to be scanned using a large format scanner.
When you have bulk documents, or large documents there are also places that specialize in helping you. There are many different companies that offer services for scanning different types of challenging documents. You pay a fee and they do all the hard work. You can have thousands of pages scanned in bulk, or you can have high quality scans made of maps, architectural drawings or posters.
Here you will need to keep in mind the cost, and what you need from the scans. You may need to have documents archived, or you may need to be able to share them quickly. Perhaps you need high quality images that can be edited. So before you decide to pay for a service, know what you need from the end results.
There are a few different places that can help you with your scanning needs. Post offices, libraries, copy shops, business centers where hot desking and shared office equipment are an option, and the list goes on. Your needs, budget and available time will be the major role players that decide where and how you will convert a document to a digital format. Hopefully this piece has given you some clarity on the places available for scanning.