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How to scan to a PDF file with free software

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Experience Level: Beginner
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVE
50+ years in computer industry. Everything from development to sales. CIO. Document imaging. EE MVE 2015, EE MVE 2016, EE FELLOW 2017.
I've published three five-minute Experts Exchange video Micro Tutorials that describe terrific features in an excellent, free PDF product called PDF-XChange Editor:

How to rotate pages in a PDF with free software
How to OCR pages in a PDF with free software
How to password-protect a PDF with free software

PDF-XChange Editor has many other features in its free version, but, unfortunately, it cannot do scanning — you must purchase one of its non-free versions to get scanning functionality. Fortunately, there's another excellent, free PDF product that can perform scanning — Foxit Reader. However, the free Foxit Reader cannot do OCR, so you'll want to keep the free PDF-XChange Editor for its OCR capability, and add Foxit Reader for its scanning capability. The combination of the two products will allow you to create searchable PDFs (aka PDF Searchable Image files) with your scanner, utilizing free software.

N.B.: As with any "free" software, there may be restrictions, which are always specified in the software's licensing agreement, typically known as the End-User License Agreement (EULA). I encourage you to read the entire EULA of these products to be certain that you are in license compliance.

In order to scan, Foxit Reader requires an industry-standard TWAIN or WIA scanning driver. Virtually all modern scanners and multi-function/all-in-one devices come with TWAIN and WIA drivers, the latest version of which can nearly always be downloaded from a manufacturer's website. A notable exception is the entire Fujitsu ScanSnap series, which does not have industry-standard scanning drivers (ISIS, SANE, TWAIN, WIA/WIA2, etc.). The scanning driver in the ScanSnap series is proprietary to Fujitsu, so you must use the ScanSnap Manager to perform scanning with any ScanSnap scanner.

This five-minute EE video Micro Tutorial shows where to download the free Foxit Reader and gives a demonstration of its scanning feature.

Video Steps

1. Download and Install the Free Version of Foxit Reader


Visit the website for Foxit Reader at Foxit Software:
https://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf-reader/

Select the language and O.S. from the drop-downs, then click the big, red Download button.

After downloading, run the installer.

step1

2. Run Foxit Reader


The installer creates a Foxit Reader program group with a shortcut to the Foxit Reader program.

Click the shortcut to run Foxit Reader.

step2

3. Run the scanning feature


Click the From Scanner icon on the ribbon.

Note: You must already have TWAIN and/or WIA scanning drivers installed.

step3

4. Fill in the Scan dialog box and Scan


Select the Scanner, Sides, Source, Color Mode, Page Size, Resolution, Output.

Un-tick the "Configure scanner using scanner's interface" box so that the TWAIN or WIA dialog box does not appear.

The settings are "sticky" (except for Output), so you won't have to change them the next time you scan (unless, of course, you want to scan with different options).

Click the Scan button.

step4

5. Respond to Scan completion dialog


After the initial scan finishes, you'll get a dialog asking if the scan is complete or if there are more pages. In the case of scanning "Both Sides" with a simplex (ADF) scanner or on the flatbed of a simplex or duplex scanner, you'll also get a choice of "Scan the reverse sides" to effectuate the double-sided scan.

Make your choice and click OK.

step5

6. Save the scanned document


Click the disk icon on the Quick Access Toolbar or click the File menu then Save or Save As to save the scanned document.

step6
That's it! You now have a scanned PDF file using free software. It is an image-only PDF, ready for OCR with the free version of PDF-XChange Editor.

If you find this video to be helpful, please click the thumbs-up icon below. Thank you for watching and have a great day!
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Expert Comment

by:Andrew Leniart
Another excellent Video tutorial that shows folks how to do something for free that usually requires a purchased copy of the appropriate software.

Endorsed!
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LVL 61

Author Comment

by:Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVE
Hi Andrew,
Thank you for the compliment and the endorsement — much appreciated! Cheers, Joe
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