A Beginner’s Guide to Printing & Scanning from Mobile Devices

With consumers increasingly turning to their mobile devices to do, well, just about everything, major corporations like Google and Apple are constantly working on developing new ways for portable devices to serve as total laptop or desktop computer replacements. Until recently, scanning and printing required logging on to your computer, but, now, both tasks can easily be accomplished using your smartphone or another mobile device.

From apps designed to scan pictures and documents using your device’s camera to printers with their own apps that allow users to print directly from their mobile devices, the need to switch on a computer is dwindling. Printing and scanning from mobile devices are easy, and knowing how to do so can greatly increase your productivity while you are on the go. Here’s how to get the job done.

Scanning from a Mobile Device

When you need to scan a form or a document, your mobile device’s built-in camera can serve as a sufficient replacement for a flatbed scanner. While you shouldn’t expect the same high-resolution quality you would get when using a scanner, using your smartphone or tablet should provide results are perfectly acceptable for documents and forms.

You have a couple of options when you need to capture a hard-copy document on your phone. If you are “scanning” old pictures from a photo album, simply using your device’s built-in camera app is probably your best bet. For documents, though, a scanner app is likely a better option. A quick search of the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store turns up tons of choices. Some, however, are much better than others.

Scanner App for Android Devices

If you have an Android device, Google Drive for Android is the perfect solution. It comes with a built-in scanning tool that is capable of converting scans to PDFs, making it ideal for those times when you need to submit a form or another document via email.

Google Drive also has the ability to digitize your scans and allow you to edit the text inside them. To use Google Driver’s scanner tool on your Android device, just open the app and tap on the plus icon on the front screen and select “Scan.” Google Drive is free, and it’s loaded with several other useful tools and features as well.

Scanner App for iOS Devices

For Apple iPhone and iPad users, Evernote Scannable for iOS offers power scanning capabilities. While you do not have to have an Evernote account to use Scannable, if you do have one, the two work very well together. Scannable allows you to save your scans as either images or PDFs. Like Google Drive, Scannable is free.

How to Scan Using Your Mobile Device

If you know how to take a picture with your smartphone or tablet, you know how to scan. No matter what app you use, the scanning process remains (mostly) the same. Open the app’s scanning feature, and you will be presented with a document-scanning interface that should be fairly similar to your device’s camera interface. Line your camera up with your document, and the app will automatically detect the edges. The app may also apply a few quick enhancements to make the document more readable.

Some apps scan automatically while others require you to push a button like you would when taking a photo. Once the scan has been completed, you will be asked where you would like to share or save the document. When scanning using your smartphone or tablet, it’s extremely important to hold the device steady and level. Place your document on a flat surface, such as your desk, and hold your device over it as level as possible. Attempting to scan from an angle will likely distort the captured image, making it difficult to read. Hold your device as steady as possible to avoid blurriness.

Printing from a Mobile Device

Printing from a mobile device is easy, as well, but there are a few different ways to get the job done. While scanning is pretty similar across Android and Apple devices, printing is a slightly different story.

If you are using an Android device, your best bet is Google Cloud Print. This app allows you to print from any app using any printer that is compatible with Google Cloud Print. Many newer printers, including models from HP, Canon, Brother, and many others, that are Wi-Fi-compatible come with this functionality already built in. Some users believe that inkjet printers produce a higher quality document than laser printers.

Because they can communicate with the internet directly, they are also able to communicate directly with your mobile device, once both the printer and device have been linked to your Google account. If your printer doesn’t have Wi-Fi, you can still use it with Google Cloud Print as long as the printer is connected to a computer that is powered on.

iOS devices come preinstalled with Apple’s AirPrint technology, and most recent printers are compatible. If you have an AirPrint-compatible device installed on your network, it should show up as an option when you choose to print something from any iOS app. If you need to print something from your iOS device when you are not connected to your home network, you will need a third-party app.


Scanning and printing using mobile devices are easy, thanks to the wide availability of apps designed for such purposes. While your phone or tablet’s camera may not replace a flatbed scanner for certain applications, it should be sufficient for most tasks. Whether you are on the go or at home and just don’t feel like turning on your computer, scanning and printing from a mobile device are convenient and can save you a lot of time. With the right