How to scan Google Drive from your phone.
Flatbed scanners have been the backbone of image digitization for decades. The problem is, you probably don’t have it, and almost certainly won’t be with you all the time.
Smartphone cameras today are so good that you can not only capture a detailed shot of a document, but you can also possibly zoom in to the ink dots. So why are we using scanners anyway?
Well, your camera app just doesn’t have the same functionality as your scanner software. Luckily, you can scan documents to Google Drive with a handy in-app tool that most people probably don’t know about!
How Is This Different From Photographing Documents?
The big advantage of a document scanner over smartphone photography is the lack of detail or quality. This is because the scanner holds the document precisely and provides perfect constant illumination with every scan. In addition, it captures the image exactly perpendicular to the paper.
When you take a photo with your phone, the page can be distorted, showing a bunch of unwanted objects around it and poorly lit. It would take a lot of time and effort to fix all of these problems manually. Not great if you want results that are close to what a flatbed scanner gives.
Google used its software development talents to quickly and almost automatically compensate for the shortcomings of smartphone camera scanning.
What You’ll Need
To scan to Google Drive using the Google Drive app, you need a very short list:
- An Android or iOS smartphone or tablet (with camera).
- Google account.
- A flat surface with decent lighting.
- The page, book, or other document you want to scan.
- Internet connection
If you have everything on this list, we are ready to walk you through the process of scanning to Google Drive from your phone.
How to Scan to Google Drive with Your Phone
Assuming you’ve already installed the Google Drive app and signed in to your Google account, here’s how to scan a document:
- First, open the app, and then select the plus sign used to create a new document.
- You will see “Scan” among the options. Select “Scan” to continue.
- You will now see this scan interface, which shows you in real time what the camera is seeing.
- Position the document and align it in the viewfinder. You don’t need to fill the window and you don’t need to be super precise. You may be able to choose between different cameras if your phone has multiple devices. The main camera is usually the best choice.
Press the big white shutter button to scan the page.
- You now see this photo preview. If you like it, select OK. If not, select Retry and try again.
- You now have the ability to customize the scanned page. Press the Back button to take the photo again. Select a color palette to change the image from black and white to color.
- The next button on the right rotates the image, and the last button is the crop function. However, this “crop” function actually allows you to double check the selections that Drive automatically made on the page. Drag the nodes to correctly circle the page in case of an error.
- If you only have one page to scan, you can now click the Save button, but if you want to add more pages, select the plus sign and repeat the above steps until get all the pages of the scanned document.
You will now be prompted to save the PDF document to your Google Drive account. Give it a name, choose which Google account it should be saved to, and then choose a location for it.
Where Are My Documents?
When you first scan a document using the Google Drive app, you create the scanned image locally in your phone’s memory. If you are connected to Wi-Fi, this scan will be automatically downloaded to the Google Drive folder you specified. Depending on your app settings, uploads can also happen over mobile data, but by default Drive waits for Wi-Fi before uploading files from your phone to the cloud.
This also means that you won’t be able to share your scans with anyone until you are connected to Wi-Fi.
If you absolutely need to securely receive these scans in the cloud as quickly as possible, you need to change the setting in Google Drive to allow mobile data downloads. Keep in mind that this can eat up most of your data limit. You might want to change the setting again after the download is complete.
To enable file uploads from a mobile device:
- Select the hamburger icon.
- Select Settings.
- Scroll down to the Data Usage section.
- Disable Transfer files over Wi-Fi only
Remember to turn this setting back on when critical downloads are complete, or you risk huge data transfer bills at the end of the month.
Tips for Getting the Best Results
While the technology behind Google Drive’s crawling feature is impressive, there are a few things you can do to improve your results.
- First, make sure there is enough light! Your camera needs light to work. Even the expensive cameras on flagship smartphones won’t perform well in low light conditions.
- The Google Drive app allows to turn on flash as a last resort. The problem is that the harsh built-in flash can cause reflections on the paper. Therefore, it is better to use soft, diffused light, such as overhead fluorescent lamps. Just do not place your phone directly under a light source, otherwise it will be shadowed.
- Align the document as much as possible. A flat document scans well, but a folded or wrinkled document makes it difficult for the software to scan. You can even put it in a transparent folder if it’s not too shiny.
- Then make sure the focus is on the document. It’s pretty straightforward on most phones. Just click on a document and the phone’s autofocus will do its job. Once again, better light means better autofocus performance.
- While not so convenient, if you have a tripod mount for your phone or some way to hold your phone steady over the document scanning area will also produce better results. This is especially useful if you need to scan many pages.
Finally, if you are trying to scan the pages of a book, there are two ways to get a good scan. One is to alternate the folding of the book on the back or front cover. To make the left or right page beautiful and straightforward to scan. Alternatively, why not scan a book two pages at a time? Just make sure you rotate each image correctly so it’s easy to read.
A Lean, Mean, Scanning Machine
That’s all you need to know to scan documents to Google Drive using your phone. At least until you run out of space. If you really want to increase the storage space for your Google services, check out our article on Google One and find which package might work for you.