Quick tech tip: Scan photos and documents without buying a scanner

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With tech, there’s always one more thing you need. It could be one more gadget, one more app, or one more piece of paid software. That’s why I make it my mission to help you get stuff done with what you already have.

If you need to send a fax, for instance — hey, it happens — you can do it online for free. Tap or click here for my favorite online fax options. Don’t go Googling around or you might end up on a scammy website that will charge you.

There's a good chance you don't have a scanner, either. They can be incredibly handy when you're digitizing your old photos. Tap or click for my tricks to make an involved project a little easier.

But if you just need to get a digital copy of your license or some other document, I’ll show you how to do it with the tech you own.

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Grab your smartphone, but ditch the third-party apps

If you have an iPhone, scanning is a snap using the Notes app that comes pre-installed. Here’s how.

  • Open the Notes app. Create a new note by clicking the icon that looks like a square with a pen in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  • Tap the camera icon at the bottom of your new note and select Scan Documents.
  • Hold your phone over the document you want to scan. Your app will detect a document and scan it when it’s set to Auto. In Manual mode, you need to snap the photo. You can swap between modes at the top right of your screen.
  • Tap the photo shutter button at the bottom of the screen to complete the scan.
  • You can edit the image after you take it by dragging around the page corners. When you’re finished, tap Save on the bottom right of your screen. Your file will save as a PDF. You can then email or message the scan right from within Notes.

Pro Tip: This is a great way to keep a copy of your COVID vaccine card. Tap or click for the steps on how to save it and find it quickly for iPhone and Android.

On an Android, use Google Drive to get the job done. If you’re a Gmail user, you should already have this installed.

  • Open the Google Drive app. Tap the plus button in the bottom right corner.
  • Tap Scan and allow access to your camera if you have not already.
  • Take a photo of the document you’d like to scan. Hit the X to try again or the checkmark to confirm.
  • From there, you can crop, rotate, or convert to black and white. Hit Save when you’re done.
  • Add a file name and choose a folder to store to. Select Save again.

What if you need to sign that document? It’s worth taking the time to upload a nice digital signature. Tap or click here and head to No. 4 for the steps to do it the old school way: With a pen and paper.

Or skip your phone altogether

Let’s face it. Taking a photo, cropping it, emailing it to yourself, and then uploading it or attaching it to another email is a pain. There are just too many steps!

If you need a photo on your computer, skip the phone and use your webcam. The good news is even a decent webcam is good enough to scan a document for you.

Riga, Latvia - December 3, 2019: Woman using Apple iPhone 11 Pro.

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On a Mac:

  • Open Photo Booth. Your webcam will automatically open.
  • Place your document in front of the webcam and line it up on the screen.
  • Hit the red photo icon to take a picture. It will then appear in the bottom right corner. Drag it onto your desktop or into a folder.

On a Windows PC:

  • Open the Camera app.
  • Line up your document in front of the webcam, then hit the white camera icon to snap a photo.
  • Your photo will appear in the bottom right corner. Click it to open, then click the three dots in the upper right.
  • Choose Open folder to see where it is stored on your computer, then move it anywhere you like.

Bonus Tip: She passed away. Then he turned her into an AI chatbot.

Check out my podcast "Kim Komando Explains" on Apple, Google Podcasts, or your favorite podcast player.

When tragedy struck, Joshua Barbeau decided to cope with the loss of his girlfriend by creating a chatbot based on her personality. In this podcast, I sat down with him as well as AI developer Jason Rohrer, who created a program you can use to create your own personalized chatbots for just $5. It’s creepy and insanely fascinating at the same time.

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Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, "Komando."

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim's national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television, or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim's free podcasts.

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Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters, and more, visit her website at Komando.com.

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