Quickly Scanning Documents with Document Scanner

14 March, 2022

Despite all the grand talk of us being in the digital age and of the paperless whatever, many of us still receive and handle more paper than we care to. While most of that can be recycled or shredded, we might need to keep a few of those documents for posterity.

No one wants to deal with drawers full of paper. So why not archive all of your important documents? If you have a scanner or a multi-function printer, and are running the GNOME desktop, then using Document Scanner (which was known for the longest time as Simple Scan) is a quick, easy, and efficient way to do that job.

Let’s take a look at it.

Getting the Software

Document Scanner is installed by default on the GNOME desktop and, as recall, with Ubuntu as well. If it isn’t installed, or if you’re not using GNOME, go to your distribution’s app centre or package manager.

If you can’t find Document Scanner, try searching for it under the application’s previous name: Simple Scan.

Once it’s installed, you’re ready to go.

Using Document Scanner

Obviously, you’ll need a scanner or a multifunction printer. Any of the many devices that Linux supports should work. In the past, I’ve used a handful of multifunction devices from HP and Epson, along with an older Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner. Document Scanner had no problems with any of them.

Make sure that your scanner is turned on and connected to your computer, either physically or via wifi. Then, fire up Document Scanner. Document Scanner will look for your scanner. Once it’s found, select it from the list.

Document Scanner when you start it

I’ve noticed one bit of weirdness with my current scanner (an HP DeskJet 3721 multifunction unit) — multiple entries for the same device show up in the list. I’m not sure if it’s a problem with my scanner, with the Debian-based distributions I’ve tried it with, or with Document Scanner itself.

When you’re ready to scan, load your page or pages in the scanner’s document feeder and then click Scan in Document Scanner. I’ve found that the speed of scan depends on the scanner that you’re using and the speed of connection.

Scanning a document with Document Scanner

My own scanner doesn’t have a multi-page document tray, so I need to feed individual pages and click Scan. Luckily, I usually don’t scan more than a few pages so that’s not a problem.

Once each page is scanned, it appears as thumbnail in the Document Scanner window.

Thumbnails of documents in Document Scanner

Manipulating Scanned Pages

After you scan a document, you can do a few things with the page or pages:

All of those actions only work on one page at a time. If you’ve scanned multiple pages and want to, for example, crop all of them, you need to do that with each page.

Saving Your Scans

When ready, click Save. The Save dialog displays. Navigate to directory in which you want to save the file. Then, type name for file in the File name field.

The default format is PDF, which you can use for single pages or documents with multiple pages. You can also save your scans as JPEG, PNG, or WebP images. I usually go with PDF, since it’s ubiquitous and better for documents made up of multiple pages.

Changing Document Scanner’s Behaviour

Document Scanner doesn’t have all that many configuration options. The ones it does have you can find by clicking the stacker menu and selecting Preferences. The Preferences window is divided into two tabs.

On the Scanning tab, you can select whether to scan the front or back of a page (or both) as well as select the default paper size for the documents that you’re scanning.

Scanning preferences in Document Scanner

On the Quality tab, you can set the default scanning resolutions for text documents (150 dpi out of the box) and images (300 dpi by default). The minimum resolution for both is 75 dpi, and the maximum is 2400 dpi. Just remember, the higher the resolution, the larger the resulting file.

You can also change the default brightness and contrast of your scans.

Quality preferences in Document Scanner

You might have to play with all of those settings to get the results that you need.

Final Thoughts

Document Scanner is easy to use and has a very small set of features. The application isn’t going to appeal to people who need a lot of fine, fiddly controls or a large pile of features in their scanning software.

If that’s you, then Document Scanner probably isn’t a good fit. But for most people, it’s more than enough.

Scott Nesbitt