Scanning: frequently asked questions


Here are answers to some common questions about using your computer to scan documents or pictures.

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Which Windows program can I use to scan documents and pictures?

You can use Windows Fax and Scan to scan documents and pictures. You can also use it to send and receive faxes. For more information, see Scan a document or photo with Windows Fax and Scan and Send a fax with Windows Fax and Scan.

You'll first need to connect a scanner or multifunction printer with scanning capabilities to your computer. For more information, see Install a scanner.

Can I use the scanning program that came with my scanner or multifunction printer?

Yes. Many scanners and multifunction printers with scanning capabilities come with their own scanning programs. The programs are typically installed at the same time that you connect the device to your computer.

How long does it take to scan a document or picture?

It depends on the speed of your scanner, the settings that you select for each scan, and how many pages or pictures you're scanning at a time. If the default settings for your scanner or the settings that you select include a high dots per inch (DPI) setting, the scan might take longer to complete. However, a higher DPI setting can improve the resolution of the scanned image, or how it appears on the screen or in print. For example, if you scan a picture at a higher resolution, you can make a larger print copy of the scanned picture without reducing visual quality. A higher resolution can also make the scanned picture appear sharper when you view it on the screen.

Will my computer go to sleep while I'm scanning a large document or picture?

Maybe. Scanner activity won't stop your computer from going to sleep if the system has been idle for the time specified in Windows Power Options. However, you can set the system sleep time to make sure that the scan job is completed before your computer goes to sleep.

  1. Open Power Options by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Security, and then clicking Power Options.

  2. In the left pane, click Change when the computer sleeps.

  3. On the Edit plan settings page, choose the settings that you want to use when your computer is running on battery (if applicable), and when it's plugged in. Choose a time that's long enough so your scan can complete before the computer goes to sleep, or choose Never so your computer won't sleep when it's idle.

Can I scan more than one document or picture at a time?

It depends on the program and type of scanner that you're using.

  • If you use Windows Fax and Scan and a flatbed scanner, you can likely scan multiple images to separate files. Not all flatbed scanners have this ability, so you might need to contact the scanner manufacturer to obtain a driver so that your flatbed scanner can provide this option. For more information, see Scan a document or photo with Windows Fax and Scan.

  • If you're using a scanner with a document feeder and Windows Fax and Scan, you can scan multiple pages to a single file by scanning to the TIFF (.tif) file format. For more information, see Scan a document or photo with Windows Fax and Scan.

  • If you use a different program, such as the program that came with your scanner, see the Help for that program.

Where are scanned documents or pictures stored on my computer?

It depends on the program that you use.

  • If you scan a document or picture using Windows Fax and Scan, the files are stored in your Scanned Documents folder, located in the Documents folder on your computer.

  • If you scan using a different scanning program, the program will typically let you choose a location or folder in which to store your scanned files. For more information, see the Help for that program.

Can I change where scanned documents and pictures are stored on my computer?

Yes, although depending on the scanning program that you use, you might need to manually locate and then copy or move them to another location.

What's the best way to view scanned documents and pictures?

It depends on the program that you use.

  • If you scan using Windows Fax and Scan, you can view scanned documents and pictures by opening Windows Fax and Scan, switching to the Scan view, and then clicking the documents and pictures you want to view.

  • If you scan using a different program, see the Help for that program.

Can I make changes to a document or picture after I scan it?

It depends on the program that you use.

  • If you scan using Windows Fax and Scan, you can make changes to a scanned document or picture by double-clicking the file name in the list of files in Windows Fax and Scan. The document or picture will open in Windows Photo Viewer, but you can also open it in another program, such as Paint. You can then use the tools in Paint to change the exposure, colors, and composition of the image. You can crop or resize a document or image as well. For more information about Paint, see Getting started with Paint.

  • If you scan using a different program, see the Help for that program.

Can I see a preview of how a scanned document or picture will look before I scan it?

It depends on the program and the scanner you use. Some scanners, such as a scanner with a document feeder that can scan multiple pages at one time, might not support a preview option. Some programs or scanners automatically scan a document or picture, and give you the option to edit the scanned file later. Other programs, such as Windows Fax and Scan, let you review the scanned file and then adjust the scan settings before you continue—but only if the scanner supports a preview option. For more information about previewing documents and pictures using Windows Fax and Scan, see Scan a document or photo with Windows Fax and Scan.