How To Scan Documents From a Printer to Your Computer

Scanning documents from a printer to your computer is an incredibly useful skill that can save you time and effort. As someone who frequently needs to digitize paper documents like invoices, tax forms, receipts, etc., I highly recommend learning this simple process.

In this article, I’ll walk you through step-by-step how to scan from both Windows and Mac computers using either the automatic document feeder (ADF) or flatbed scanner built into many printer models.

Why Learn To Scan Documents?

Here are just a few of the benefits of scanning documents directly from your printer:

  • Digitize and organize paper records like financial statements, medical records, etc. for easy search and retrieval
  • Email or upload important documents instantly instead of faxing or mailing physical copies
  • Reduce paper clutter and storage needs
  • Back up important documents to the cloud in case of fire, floods or other damage
  • Improve workflow by reducing time spent manually handling paper files

Scanner Types

There are two main types of scanners built into most modern printers that allow you to scan documents directly to your computer:

Automatic Document Feeder (ADF)

  • Allows batch scanning of multiple pages
  • Pages are fed into the scanner automatically
  • Faster than flatbed scanning
  • Best for standard size/weight documents

Flatbed Scanner

  • Single page is placed directly on a glass scanning surface
  • Versatile for scanning books, photos, various paper sizes
  • Ideal for delicate documents

How To Scan from a Windows PC

Follow these steps to scan from your Windows laptop or desktop computer:

1. Place Document in Scanner

  • ADF: Insert document face up so text is right-side up
  • Flatbed: Place single page face down on glass surface

2. Open Windows Fax and Scan App

  • Click the Windows Start button
  • Type “scan” and open Windows Fax and Scan app

3. Select Scanner

  • Under “Scanner”, choose your printer/scanner
  • For multifunction printers, you may need to select “Manage” then your scanner name

4. Adjust Settings

  • Confirm scan settings like color mode, file type, resolution
  • Click “Preview” to test settings on sample scan

5. Initiate Scan

  • Select “Scan”
  • ADF will pull pages through automatically
  • Flatbed requires you to select “Scan” for each page

6. Save Scanned File

  • By default, files save to Documents > Scanned Documents
  • Or choose custom save location

And that’s it! With just those few simple steps you can easily scan documents from your Windows printer.

How To Scan Using a Mac

Scanning on a Mac computer is just as straightforward. Here is the process:

1. Load Scanner

  • ADF: Insert pages face up in top tray
  • Flatbed: Place document face down on glass

2. Open Image Capture App

  • Found in Applications folder or search Spotlight
  • Default scanning software for MacOS

3. Select Scanner

  • Choose your printer/scanner name
  • Enable scanner if needed using Printers & Scanners in System Preferences

4. Adjust Settings

  • Confirm scan settings like color mode, resolution, size
  • Access more options by clicking “Show Details”

5. Scan Document

  • ADF will pull pages through automatically
  • Flatbed requires you to select “Scan” for each new page

6. Review & Save Scan

  • Preview scan under “Last Import”
  • Navigate to scan file location and save permanently

And just like that, you’ll have a digital copy of your document scanned directly from your Mac printer!

Tips for Better Scans

Follow these tips to help avoid common scanning mistakes:

  • Remove staples, paper clips, creases which can impact image quality
  • Place documents neatly square inside ADF trays to prevent jams
  • Clean scanner glass to avoid streaks and smudges on scanned images
  • Use “Preview” function to check quality before final scan
  • For valuable documents, scan one page at a time on flatbed for precision

Advanced Scanning Software

While basic printer software works fine for occasional scanning needs, businesses or frequent scanning may benefit from specialized document management apps like:

Adobe Acrobat

  • Industry standard PDF software
  • OCR for searchable text
  • Annotation tools

ABBYY FineReader

  • Highly accurate OCR
  • Edit and convert scans
  • 190+ languages supported

ScanSnap Scanner

  • Intuitive scanning interface
  • Automated document feeding
  • Integrates scans into cloud apps

Final Thoughts

Learning how to scan from your printer eliminates the need for a separate scanner device and simplifies digitizing paper documents.

With just your existing printer and computer, you can now harness the organizational benefits of document scanning. No more boxes of unsearchable files!

Hopefully this guide has demystified the scanning process for both Windows and Mac operating systems. The step-by-step instructions apply to most printer models.

However, always consult your printer manufacturer’s documentation if you encounter functionality differences from what is outlined here. Their technical guidance takes precedence for your specific device.

Now put this practical know-how to work for both your home and office needs! Scanning directly from your printers unlocks productivity improvements, streamlined workflows, and modern digital document management.