Save All The Things

This post is a straightforward and shameless endorsement for the Camscanner app.

Not all tools are made for everyone. I wouldn’t recommend the tools I use to everyone. But this is different.

I can find no reason that any scholar should avoid Camscanner. It’s amazingly easy to use, it has a host of useful features, and it’s free to all. The pro version is even free to anyone with an .edu email address. Dust off your alma mater account, and get Camscanner.

Nearly 18 months ago, Natalie Houston over at Profhacker wrote about Camscanner. All the good things she wrote are still true today.

  • Camscanner works on iPhone, Windows phone, and Android.
  • It uses the phone camera to scan a document.
  • It processes the document to make it more readable.
  • It can recognize the text in printed or typewritten documents.
  • You can search your scanned, OCR’d documents within the app
  • It can save to PDF or JPG
  • It can save multiple scans to one PDF (ordered as you see fit)
  • It can upload to Dropbox
  • It can email (and fax, which is still a thing, I guess)
  • It can collect your research notes into folders
  • You can add notes to documents
  • Did I mention it’s free?

Use Camscanner to scan and OCR the typewritten reports in your favourite archive. Upload the scans to Dropbox in a single PDF, which you can then search later.

Use it to scan and store the handwritten letters from your favourite archive. You can read them later.

Use it to scan your scrawled notes for easy reference. Scan your impeccable handwritten notes and see whether you can OCR them. Maybe you print in Lucida Sans.

Use it to scan finding aids you can carry around easily. 20 pages of info about the archival collection? No problem. Scan, OCR, and search all in the app. “Lydia B. Bacon” letters are in Box 2, Folder 4.

I spent two days in archives this summer. In one archive, I used Camscanner to collect over 120 pages of notes, reference material, and original documents for later reference. I scanned everything I could get my hands on, because I had little time and lots of material.

In the other, I was required to photocopy at 10 cents per page. So I didn’t collect any of their material, but wrote my own notes. It was a pain. But then I scanned those notes with Camscanner. If I go back and make photocopies, I’ll scan those copies.

There are a few things for which Camscanner is not suited. Don’t use it to get publication quality images of documents. It’s not designed for that. Don’t use it with images (just use your phone camera). It works best with documents.

Camscanner is worth getting, learning, and using. Your memory will thank you. Your wallet will thank you. Your cramped hands will thank you.

Scans taken by Camscanner

UEL File_5

Photocopy of original handwritten ledger

UEL File_8

Typewritten transcript of ledger