CoScan is a fast and accurate PDF document and barcode scanner app for iPhones with iOS 16 or higher. While the app is easy to use, please spend a few minutes to make yourself familiar with the different screens and options.
You may have wondered about the app's name, CoScan. Well, the "Co" is short for "Confidential". From the outset, CoScan has been designed to follow Apple's lead and to protect your privacy:
With that said, let's see how CoScan works.
Screenshot shows the main screen of the app at first launch. The center pane is currently blank because no documents have been scanned yet:
The top row buttons:
|Open settings pane|
|Stroked: "Pro"-features disabled
Filled: "Pro"-features enabled
|Tap to leave rating / review|
|Open online manual|
We begin by looking at how to scan documents. Open the live camera view by tapping the camera icon at the bottom of the main screen:
In the camera pane, note the row of buttons below the live view. These buttons set the current scan mode. Preset is "Single page", indicated by the blue highlighting. Here, each scan is a separate document.
The different scan modes; we will look at each mode in more detail below:
|Single page mode. Each scan is a document.|
|Multi page mode. Scans will be added to the current document.|
|Area mode. Like Single mode, but the scan will be from a user drawn area.|
|Contact mode. The app will attempt to locate phone numbers, email addresses etc. in the live image.|
|Barcode mode. The app will detect and decode barcodes in the live image.|
|QR mode. The app will attempt to locate and parse QR codes in the live image.|
There are also a number of indicators overlaying the live image:
|Torch. Toggles the camera's torch on and off.|
|Macro. Switches to the ultra wideangle camera for macro mode. Useful for small print etc. Only available on iPhones with triple camera on the back: iPhone 13 Pro, 13 Pro Max, 14 Pro, 14 Pro Max.|
Finally, note the large gray letter "A" in the top left corner. The letter indicates the text orientation the app expects. When the phone is in landscape mode, the letter will rotate accordingly.
Select the Single or the Multi page mode to scan letters, reports, invoices and similar documents. Place the document in the camera view. Make sure you have proper lighting and that no objects block the view of the camera. Once the app detects a document it will draw a colored frame around the object:
You will get best results when the camera looks straight down; note that in the screenshot above the frame around the document is drawn red, indicating that the camera view is not optimal. Avoid skewed angles and rotated documents. If the object's position is correct, the frame will turn green:
Once the frame is green, press the shutter button to take the scan. The app will automatically crop and color correct the scan and will then start the text recognition. The scan will then be shown in the thumbnail list at the bottom of the screen:
Note the blue indicator drawn at the thumbnail. It indicates the number of pages of the respective document. In Multi page mode, all following scans will be added to the current document until another mode is selected or the camera is closed. In Single mode the next scan will create a new document, again with one page. Note that you can anytime append scans to existing documents if necessary, see further below.
Sometimes you will want to capture only part of the document, e.g. only the body or only the header. Use Area mode for this. Simply tap and drag a frame in the live camera image like so:
Tap the shutter button to capture the area in the frame; to remove the frame tap the screen once. If no frame was drawn, the whole camera view will be captured.
In all other aspects Area mode works like Single mode: Each scan creates a single page document and further pages can be added later, see below.
You will have noticed the blue dot in the middle of the mode buttons. Up to now we discussed scan modes where the scan is captured by the camera and subsequently processed and OCR'd. These are the three modes to the left of the indicator. The three modes to the right of the blue dot work live: They will detect and recognize text and barcodes without the need to take a photo.
Note that the capture button still works in these modes but differently: Tap the button and the app will take a photo of the full camera view and add it to your iPhone's photo roll.
Use Contact mode to detect phone numbers, URLs and email addresses in the live image:
Place the respective part of the document in the highlighted area as a shown in the screenshot. Once a contact detail has been detected, tap the ellipsis button ("...") for a context menu. The commands in the menu depend on the detected data type. For email addresses they look like this:
Use Barcode mode to live detect and decode barcodes in the Camera's view. The app supports all common linear and 2D barcode symbologies:
Place the barcode near the center of the preview. Detection will be indicated by a green frame; the barcode symbology and content will then be displayed, like in this example with a Code 128 barcode. Use the context menu to copy the encoded data to the clipboard:
The Barcode mode will not attempt to parse the encoded data; it simply returns the textual content of the code which for most barcode symbologies is exactly what the user needs. The popular QR codes on the other hand can encode structured data like URLs, phone numbers or vCard contact data. Use the dedicated QR mode to scan such data. As before, place the code near the center of the preview:
The app will display the detected content type (vCard in this example) and then offer suitable commands: vCards can be added to the Contacts, URLs can be opened in Safari, phone numbers can be called and so forth.
Tap the "Back"-button in the camera screen to go back to the main screen. Here the newly scanned docs are listed:
Select a document by tapping the blue circle to the right of the thumbnail. This will present buttons for sharing (bottom left) and deletion (bottom right):
Tap the "Share"-button for a context menu:
Supported are the following formats:
Tap the desired export format and you will be presented with the standard iOS "Share"-pane where you can save to files, email or print the selected document.
Deselecting the document will bring back the "Camera"-button.
In the main screen, tap the document thumbnail to go to the document detail view:
Per default the app will use the first couple of words of the document text as the doc's title, "From The Desk Of Urn" in this example. Tap the title to change it, tap "Return" when done:
To delete individual pages from the document, select them by tapping the blue circle, then tap the deletion button in the lower right. Like the main screen, the document detail view has a sharing button which works as described previously. The difference is that nothing needs to be selected, the button is always there and will let you share or export the document directly from this screen.
The document detail view will also let you add pages to an existing document. Tapping the blue "Plus"-button will take you to the camera screen where you can scan additional pages which will then be added to the doc.
Per default, the doc's pages are displayed in a grid view (note blue "Grid"-button in the top left). Tap it to change the view to individual pages (you can also simply tap the thumbnail of the page):
Use the single view to zoom in on the text using the standard pinch-to-zoom gestures. Shown in the screenshot above is the textual content of the scan as produced by the text recognition. As such, you can simply tap and hold to select text which can then be copied to the clipboard:
You can also display and zoom into the actual scan by tapping the "A"-button in the top right:
Finally, the screen offers a quick way of copying the pure text of an entire page to the clipboard. Tap the "Paper clip"-button and select the page you want to copy from the list:
Return to the main screen by tapping the "Back"-button in the top left.
Tip: If you have documents with multiple pages you can easily change the page order if necessary: Simply tap and hold the page thumbnail in grid view and then drag it to the new position.
Tap the gear button in the main screen to open the "Settings"-pane:
The current version of CoScan and assorted links are listed first and should be self-explanatory. Please use the "Contact"-link to submit bug reports, feature requests and comments per mail. Please be as specific as possible and include document scans if they help illustrate your issue.
Some advanced functions and export formats are only available in the "Pro"-version of CoScan. Tap the "Crown"-button in the main screen to enable them:
Note that the price listed will vary depending on your region and currency.
App development takes a lot of effort. Devices have to be purchased, code has to be developed, manuals have to be written and providing customer support is time-consuming and, hence, expensive. As such we can't give CoScan away entirely for free. We despise ads and subscriptions like the next guy; instead we believe that a reasonable one-time payment is a fair proposal which benefits everyone involved, developer and user.
Thank you for your support and happy scanning!