Here’s handy extra use for your iPad: a portable scanner. Armed with the right apps, you can utilize its rear-facing camera camera to snap documents – including multi-page ones- quickly and easily, then either share those scans as images or PDF files, or go one step further and extract the text from the scans to cop into a text file for editing purposes.
The great news is that you can get all this functionality for free – and while the third-generation iPad has a clear advantage over its predecessors thanks to its high-resolution 5MP rear-facing camera, you can still get decent results from an iPad 2 as well.
First, open the App store and search for an app called Faster Scan HD. The free version is fully functional, so start by downloading and installing this – it basically turns your iPad”s rear camera into a scanner capable by producing professional-looking scans. You don’t have to worry about lining up your camera precisely to take a shot- just make sure the document is within your camera frame, snap and then use Faster Scan’s tools to line up, straighten and edit the scan before saving and moving on to the next page, oe finishing the process.
Once saved, your document remain readable in the Faster Scan HD library, or you can email them or export then to a selection of compatible apps. Note, though, that options for sharing via various online service – including Google Docs and Dropbox – are restricted to the Plus version, which costs £2.99/$4.99.
If you want to extract editable text from a scanned document, you’ll need an additional app. Mobile OCR allows you to extract text from up to five document for free each day- our guide explains how it works. The quality of your results depends on the image being scanned in, so be prepared to tweak the document further in Faster Scand HD if results aren’t to your liking. Free credits are restored automatically every 24 hours, but you can purchase more : 30 credits cost 69p/99¢, or you can unlock unlimited credits for £1.99/¢2.99.
How to extract the text from a scanned document
Send to photo albums > Select a document followed by the first page containing the text you wish to extract. Tap the Share button and select Photo Albums to export a JPEG to Photo Albums app. Now close Faster Scan HD and open the Mobile OCR app.
Select language and photo > Tap Album and select the image you exported. Verify that English is selected under Language, or choose another using the drop-down menu. Now tap the Convert button to let the Mobile OCR app attempt to extract the text from the document image.
Verify and transfer text > Wait while the doc is processed, and then review the results. Don’t be suprised if they’re not perfect, but if the original image was clear you should get a reasonable copy. From here you can copy the text to the clipboard or place it in the body of an email.
How to scan documents with your iPad
Take a snapshot > Open Faster Scan HD and tap the camera button. Place your targer document or photo on a flat, well-lit surface, then line up the shot as accurately as you can, but don’t worry about being absolutely precise. Tap the camera icon to take yor shot.
Crop document > If your document is largely square and flat, use the deefault cropping tool to select the four corners of the document. Tap and drag a corner into position on-screen until you’ve selected the part of the document you wish to scan. Then tap Next.
Advanced cropping > If the document is’nt flat – say it’s a page from a tightly-bound book that won’t open out fully – select the advanced cropping tool. This creates a cropping area using multiple points to trace around irregular shapes. The automatic detection works well.
Modify selection > Tap Next .if thr text appears distorted, tap Back and tap-and-drag on the various points to adjust the cropping selection, tapping Next whenever you wish to review your work. Keep adjusting to shape of the crop until the results are to your satisfaction.
Change colour settings > Depending on the area cropped, Faster Scan HD will apply a colour setting – original, Colour or B&W. If you’re interested mainly in the text – particularly if you plan to edit it using OCR – then B&W is the best option. Tap Save when done.
Repeat, then finish > You’ll see the first page of your document appear on the camera screen. Repeat steps 1 to 5 for any other pages in your document, then tap Done to finish. Give your document a suitable title, and choose a page size before tapping OK.
Organize documents > You’ll return to the main menu, where you’ll see your document is now listed. Tap it to access it details pane, where you can view it, add new pages to it (tap the camera icon again) and move selected pages between documents using the double arrow button.
Share or export > Tap the share button to access options for transfering the document elsewhere. The free version of Faster Scan HD allows you to attach the documents as an image or PDF to an email, or you can select Other Apps to choose a compatible app to open it.
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