At the time, scanners were quite popular because they allowed users to take physical copies of things, like photographs or documents, and scan them. Nowadays, with photos and documents being largely digital, document scanning has become less necessary than it was back then.

That doesn’t mean it’s completely useless. There are still instances where scanned documents are a must, such as documents that may require a signature or a company chop. Some companies still prefer to do things the old fashioned way and rely on physical documents.

If you’d rather not buy yourself a scanner just for the one or two instances where you might need a scanner, the good news is, you don’t. In fact, you can just use your smartphone to act as a scanner using its built-in cameras, and here’s how.

Scanning documents using Google Drive

  1. Download and install Google Drive if you don’t already have it on your phone
  2. Launch Google Drive
  3. Tap the + icon in the bottom right corner of the app
  4. Tap Scan
  5. Frame your document in the viewfinder
  6. Press the shutter button to capture the image

Scanning documents using Microsoft Lens

  1. Download and install Microsoft Lens
  2. Launch the application
  3. Frame your document in the viewfinder. With Microsoft Lens, the app will try to detect the edges of the document so it doesn’t capture other unnecessary data like your table
  4. Press the shutter button to capture
  5. Microsoft Lens can also capture other types of documentation, such as writing on a whiteboard, business card, and more. You can choose the different modes by swiping the options under the trigger

At this point, these apps will attempt to “clean up” the photo. This is because due to lighting conditions, the image you captured may not be as clear as you would like. By running it through a filter, these applications attempt to brighten and sharpen the image, as well as remove any background image so that only the document is in focus.

You can make other changes such as cropping unnecessary edges or selecting a different filter if you think the default one isn’t right for you. Is it as good as a dedicated scanner? Probably not, especially since some scanners have the ability to scan high-resolution details that your camera can’t pick up.

Plus, a scanner already removes all the weird/bad lighting your camera picks up, so you have less cleanup to do. But if you’re in a hurry and need to be able to scan documents quickly without having to wait for a scanner, these apps are definitely worth checking out.