How to quickly scan a document to your Dropbox account with Android

Dropbox on Android finally receives a feature found on the iOS iteration — scanning. Here's how to quickly scan an image and save it to your Dropbox account as a pdf or jpg.

Image: Jack Wallen

For a while now, iOS devices have had the ability to scan files directly to their associated Dropbox cloud accounts. This means you could point your mobile device to a receipt, a file, a whiteboard, or whatever it is you need to get quickly scanned and uploaded and save it directly to your Dropbox account. The new feature is incredibly useful and makes working on the go even more efficient. Snap a shot of whatever it is you need to quickly upload and then save it, as either a .pdf or .jpg file, to your Dropbox account. This is far more efficient than snapping a photo of something and then manually uploading (or sharing) the photo to your cloud account.

The one caveat to this feature is that it is not optical character recognition (OCR). This snaps a photo of the subject and then saves it as either a .pdf or .jpg file (your choice). From within your Dropbox account, you can share and/or comment on the file (for collaboration purposes). Even without OCR capabilities, the feature adds something the Android Dropbox mobile client has needed for some time.

Let's see how this new scanning feature is used. The only requirement is that you have the latest release of Dropbox on your Android device (and be signed into your Dropbox account).

Scanning an image

The first thing you must have is an image to scan. The included scanner does a great job of capturing just about anything (with the one exception being computer screens). With your subject in hand (or on desk or wall, as it were), open up the Dropbox app and tap the + button. From the resulting menu (Figure A), tap Scan document.

Figure A

Figure A

The Add to Dropbox menu.

If this is the first time you've attempted to scan a document into Dropbox, you will be asked to allow the app access to the camera and your files. Do this, or the scanning will not work. Once you tap Scan document, the scanner will open. Center the screen on the subject and hold the device still (it's quite sensitive). You will see a blue square hop about the screen (Figure B), attempting to focus on the area to be scanned.

Figure B

Figure B

Focusing on the subject requires a steady hand.

Once the blue lines are square (this is important as it can affect the perspective, and hence the legibility, of the final image), tap the camera button to snap the image. Once the image is captured, you can adjust, rotate, or arrange the image or add a new page to the scan (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C

The Scan preview window.

I highly recommend (at least) tapping the Adjust button and then, in the resulting window (Figure D), adjusting the area to be saved for the scan, as well as change the color to Whiteboard (as it seems to result in the clearest scans).

Figure D

Figure D

Adjusting the image before the scan is saved.

Once the scan meets your needs, tap the checkmark. Back in the Scan preview window, tap the right-pointing arrow, give the scan a name, select the file type (Figure E), select the subfolder (optional) to hold the file, and tap the checkmark.

Figure E

Figure E

Saving the scan as a .pdf to Dropbox.

That's it. The scan will now appear in your Dropbox account. You can share it for collaboration or work with it later.

Mobility made easier

Your mobile office just got a bit more efficient. With the likes of Dropbox, mobility is getting easier and easier to manage with your cloud account. Although this new (to Android) scanning feature doesn't include OCR, it's still a very welcome addition.

See also

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website

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