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How to Scan a Document From a Printer to a Computer

How to scan from printer to computer on PC or Mac

If you have some documents you’d like to digitize and want to know how to scan from printer to computer, you first need to make sure your device is a combination printer/scanner. If you’re not sure, start by consulting the original documentation for your printer to see if it references any scanning capabilities. If the documentation isn’t readily available, try punching the device name and model number (often found on a sticker on the rear of the device) into a search engine. The next few paragraphs and bulleted lists will help you start scanning. If you’ve found that your printer lacks scanning capabilities, don’t worry — just skip to the next section.

If your computer is a Windows PC, these steps will show you how to scan from printer to computer. Skip to the next list if you’re using a Mac.

  • Make sure your printer is connected to your PC and turned on.
  • Open the taskbar by pressing the Windows key on your keyboard, then type “Windows Scan,” and open the app.
    • If your computer does not already have Windows Scan installed, download the official app for free from the Microsoft store.
  • Place the document you would like to scan in the document feeder tray or flatbed, depending on the type of device you have.
  • On the Scan page of Windows Scan, follow these steps in order.
    • Select the scanner you want to use from the Scanner field.
    • Select the device location you want to scan from in the Source field.
    • Select the file type you would like to save the document as under File type. JPEG is a good default for most documents.
    • Select Show more, then Save file to and browse to the location on your computer where you want to save the scan. The default location, “Scanned Documents,” should work fine in most cases.
    • Select Scan to scan your document.
  • After your document has been scanned, you can select View to perform small image editing tasks if desired, or simply Close to save the image.

If your computer is a Mac, follow these steps steps to start scanning.

  • Make sure your printer is connected to your Mac and turned on.
  • Place the document in your device’s document feeder or flatbed.
  • Select the Apple menu, then System Preferences, then Printers & Scanners.
  • Select your printer in the list on the left, then click Open Scanner on the right.
    • You may need to click Scan on the right before you can click Open Scanner.
  • If you are using a flatbed rather than an automatic document feeder, make sure that Use Document Feeder is not selected if present.
  • Set your scanning options.
    • Choose the type of image being scanned with the Kind pop-up menu.
    • Choose the size of the scanned item with the Size pop-up menu.
    • Choose where to save the digital version with the Scan To pop-up menu.
    • If your device supports duplex scanning, select Duplex to scan both sides of the document at once.
  • Click Scan.

If these steps don’t work for you, you may need to set up or reinstall your device. Consult the printer manufacturer’s instructions for more details.

The benefits of a dedicated scanner

Whether your printer is also capable of scanning or not, you’ll likely find the process easier and more effective if you use a dedicated scanner. Here are some of the reasons you may want to start shopping for a dedicated scanner instead of using an all-in-one machine.


Devices that are built explicitly for scanning can use that focus to make the process of document digitization as easy as possible. Look for a model that offers one-button scanning, as well as scanners that come with software to make the most of their capabilities with minimal user intervention.


If one thing goes wrong on an all-in-one device, it may bring the entire product to a halt until it can be fixed. Opting for a dedicated scanner means you don’t have to worry about other issues interrupting your workflow. If an issue does arise with your scanner, you can have it serviced without losing access to your printing capabilities.


While all-in-one devices may seem more convenient, component costs and sizes often mean they provide poorer quality scans than standalone scanners. If you need to re-scan important documents several times before you get a digital counterpart with acceptable quality, that may not truly be the most convenient option.


When you need to digitize more than a document or two at once, you’ll be glad to have a scanner that can quickly tackle multiple documents in a row without user intervention. Look for a scanner with automatic document feeder capabilities to speed up and simplify your workflow.

Our recommendation: ScanSnap iX1300

We know you have no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a home document scanner. We pride ourselves on having spent the last 50+ years designing and developing some of the most beloved electronics in the world, including our line of award-winning, easy to use, one touch ScanSnap scanners.

If you’re ready for a better scanning experience across the board, we’re proud to recommend the ScanSnap iX1300 as an excellent dedicated scanner. Its minimal footprint makes it easy to fit on a desk or shelf, and that small space holds an impressive array of scanning options: an automated document feeder for working through stacks of documents with one command, a manual scan mode for digitizing thicker documents such as laminated ID cards, and included ScanSnap software to easily store and sort your documents. Click here to learn more and shop the full line of ScanSnap scanners.