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How to scan documents like a pro, using your mobile phone

How to scan documents like a pro, using your mobile phone

During the closing process, a variety of documents may be exchanged between you and several other parties such as your Lawyer, Realtor, Lender, or Mortgage Broker. Some of these documents may already be in digital format (also known as “soft copies”), while some documents may still be in paper formats.

Scanning documents the traditional way has always been a cumbersome experience that requires scanning equipment, specialized software and know-how (not to mention paper jams!)

Thankfully, the mobile phone has become the modern day Swiss Army knife for most of us. With advanced cameras on most mobile devices, you can take pictures of documents and upload them in minutes.

To successfully scan documents with a cell phone, you need to know the best way to photograph different types of documents.

Here are tips for taking pictures with a phone:

  • Check your camera phone settings. If possible, select the “macro” or “document” mode. Also make sure that the camera’s autofocus setting is on. Macro/document mode is particularly important for scanning smaller documents like letter-size pieces of paper or business cards.

  • If you don’t have macro/document mode, make sure the camera is set to its highest resolution. This’ll generate the largest image.
  • Turn off your flash. Flashes tend to reflect harshly off of white surfaces like paper. The result is a washed-out image.

  • Find the best lighting. Since you can’t use a flash, the document needs to have ample natural light. Position the document near a window or directly under a lamp. Use brightdirect lighting on your document. Shadows and indirect light may cause certain parts of the document to be unreadable after scanning.

  • Hold the device directly above the document to avoid distorting the scan. Try to fill the camera frame with as much of the document as possible so that it is not cut-off. If you’re photographing a business card, you’ll need to get in nice and close so that the card fills almost the entire screen.

  • For letter-size pieces of paper and business cards, you may want to rotate your camera 90 degrees so that the document fills even more of the screen.

  • Hold the camera phone with both hands to keep it steady. Slight movements can produce a blurry image, especially in low-light situations.

  • Most importantly, preview your picture on your screen to ensure it is legible and in focus prior to sharing it. Will the person receiving the document be able to read it? If not, it is best to take the photo again.

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