How to Scan a Document on a Printer (Instructions) 

Submitted by Karla Metzler on Wed, 11/16/2022 - 09:00
A person scanning a document with their phone

Think about the last time you had to scan a document. Did you know how to do it? Did you end up just taking a picture with your phone, instead of taking the time to use the scanner on your printer?  

At some point, everybody will need to scan a document, whether it’s for work or personal reasons.  

Some of the most important documents, such as birth certificates, social security cards and driver’s licenses need to be scanned at some point. 

In the workplace, scanning documents becomes even more commonplace, when bank statements, client records and customary bills typically get scanned for record-keeping purposes.   

The importance of scanning means that you need to know how to do it, and because of our almost 40 years of dealing with customers as a printer/copier company, we’ve learned that scanning a document can be difficult for most people. 

To make the scanning process as easy as possible, we’re going to be using our expertise to provide the four main ways you can scan a document on a printer with instructions on how to complete each one. They will include scanning documents to a USB port, to your email, to a shared folder or the cloud. 

Important note: We maintain expertise in Xerox machines, so we’ll be using examples of how to scan from their machines in the steps below. However, the methods discussed in this article should apply to most other printers, no matter the brand.   

4 Different Methods of Scanning a Document 

There are four main methods of scanning on a printer: to a USB, to email, straight to your computer files or directly uploaded into the cloud. Each method has a little bit of a different process to it, so we’ve broken them down here for you: 

  1. How to Scan a Document to a USB or Flash Drive 

The first method of scanning we will go over involves scanning to a USB or flash drive. This method is an important tool because it can be utilized when your computer network is unreachable, and it offers those without network access a simple way to scan and/or print documents.   

To scan to USB, insert your USB stick into the port, and select the “Scan to USB” option when prompted. Place the documents into the scanner, name your document (to minimize confusion later), and you’re good to go!  

Again, scanning a document to a USB port or flash drive might be a little different depending on the brand of printer you have, but most will be similar to the steps above.  

  1. How to Scan a Document to Email 

Email is the most commonly used form of scanning, and it’s also the easiest way to send documents virtually to just about anyone.  

On the user interface of your machine, select the “Email” application on your printer and click “Add Recipient.” After that, select the desired email address from the address book saved to your device or enter it manually.   

Note that if you’re printing from a Xerox machine, the subject line and document title will automatically fill as “Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction Printer,” but this can be customized to your discretion.  

  1. How to Scan a Document to a Folder 

Scanning directly to a shared location keeps files and documents organized and available for all who have access to them, and it’s probably what you think of when you picture scanning a document.   

To scan a document to a folder on a Xerox machine, you would choose the “Workflow Scanning” application and then pick your desired scan settings and customizations. During the scanning process, you can have it automatically go to a specific folder on your computer.  

You can then manually move it to the location of your choice (Desktop, Documents, Downloads, etc.).    

  1. How to Scan a Document to Cloud 

Scanning to the cloud is the newest form of scanning, and it allows you to easily access your documents from any device (such as your phone, iPad, etc.).   

When scanning to the cloud, you can choose from several different cloud-based repositories such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Office 365, etc.

To scan a document to the cloud, you simply choose the app on the device, sign in to your account, then select the folder that you want your document to be sent to and press “Scan.” 

This way you can scan to whatever program your organization utilizes, allowing for real-time collaboration with your colleagues. 

How Do I Position My Documents Properly to Scan?  

A common question among consumers revolves around how to position documents on a printer’s scanner so that they will scan properly. 

Most multifunction printers, which can print, copy, scan and fax, will come with a built-in document feeder. This allows you to choose your desired size of paper, such as letter or legal-sized paper, by moving the paper guides until they fit the proper paper width.   

In most cases, it will already be set up to “8.5’x11” (letter), which is the most used paper size. Once the paper size is correct, make sure that there are no folds or staples in the paper and put it into the document feeder.    

If you’re needing to scan something that wouldn’t easily be put through a document feeder, such as a check or one page from a stapled packet, then you’ll just lift the printer’s lid and place the document face down onto the platen glass, aligning it with the size guides in the corners.  

What If My Printer Doesn’t Have a Built-In Scanner? 

If you have a single-function (print-only) printer, then it won’t be able to execute a scanning function. 

This means you would either need to invest in a multifunction printer or a separate scanner to perform your scan jobs. 

Scanners can range from around $100 to over a thousand dollars depending on the amount of scanning you needed to do.  

For example, Xerox has three categories of scanners: 

  • Personal and mobile scanners, which range from around $120-to-$360. 

  • Workgroup and departmental scanners, which range from around $649-to-$1,399. 

  • Production scanners, which range from around $795-to-$6,000. 

The scanner options and how much they cost will differ from brand to brand, but if you’re an individual or workgroup that needs to scan documents and don’t have a printer that can handle it, investing in a scanner could be right for you. 

Read our blog about Xerox scanners to learn more about the scanner options in Xerox’s catalog.  

Need Help With Any Other Printer-Related Task? 

Scanning documents is one of the most common tasks in workplaces and is essential for record-keeping purposes. 

Using the four methods discussed above, you should now have a greater understanding of how to scan documents in a multitude of ways. This should make you more informed and well-equipped to scan documents at your printer the next time it is required.  

We’ve learned throughout our almost 40 years in the printer/copier industry that education can be your best friend when it comes to everyday printer tasks like scanning or copying documents. 

Even responsibilities that may appear simple at first thought, like connecting your printer to Wi-Fi, can lead to confusion down the road when you actually get to the point of completing the task at hand. 

Read through our blog on four common printer service questions to get answers to a few of the most pertinent and pressing questions that may arise during the ownership of your machine.   

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