Apps

Five utilities for scanning documents to PDF

Brien Posey highlights five utilities for scanning paper documents to PDF.

 

Document to PDF
 

If you have a lot of paper documents laying around, it may be helpful to be able to scan those documents and save them as PDF files. PDF files take up less space than paper documents, and they can make it easy to search for specific information. Here are five utilities for converting paper documents to PDF.

This article is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.

1.  Soda PDF 6

Soda PDF 6 is a full-blown PDF editor that includes scanning capabilities. The utility is divided into a series of modules, each of which deliver different functionality. The installer allows you to pick and choose the modules that you want to install (Figure A). It costs $39.00 (USD), but a free trial is available for download.

Figure A

 

Figure A
 

Soda PDF 6 Modules.

Soda PDF 6 allows you to scan and perform optical character recognition on paper documents, but it also offers the ability to edit existing PDFs (Figure B). In addition, Soda PDF 6 is able to save PDF files to alternate formats, such as Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, HTML files, TXT files, or even images.

Figure B

 

Figure B
 

You can edit existing PDFs.

2.  Softi Scan to PDF

Softi Scan to PDF is a simple utility for scanning paper documents and converting them to PDF files (Figure C). It costs $29.95 (USD), but a free trial is available for download.

Figure C

 

Figure C
 

Softi Scan to PDF window.

The Softi Scan to PDF utility offers a clean and simple interface that allows for control over color and resolution (Figure D), but it lacks any of the features of a full-blown PDF editor.

Figure D

 

Figure D
 

Color settings in Softi Scan to PDF.

3.  Advanced Scan to PDF Free

Advanced Scan to PDF Free is a free tool for converting paper documents to PDF format. When installing Advanced Scan to PDF Free, be sure to perform the custom installation (Figure E). Otherwise, the software will install a toolbar, change your browser home page, and change your search provider, in addition to installing other software.

Figure E

 

Figure E
 

Select the custom installation.

The software’s main features consist of its ability to specify page size and compression type. There are also a number of features that can be used to adjust the image size and positioning. Advanced Scan to PDF Free even has the ability to add password protection (Figure F) and a digital signature to documents that you create.

Figure F

 

Figure F
 

Advanced Scan to PDF Free offers password protection.

4.  Readiris Pro

Readiris Pro is a utility that's designed to scan paper documents and convert them to PDFs, Microsoft Office documents, or even e-mail messages (Figure G). The software can also create documents from a variety of image file formats. It costs $129.00 (USD), but a free trial is available for download.

Figure G

 

Figure G
 

Conversion options in Readiris Pro.

The software offers a variety of document controls, such as the ability to rotate and adjust pages and the ability to delete blank pages. In addition, Readiris Pro has a cloud setup function through which the software can be linked to cloud providers like SkyDrive and Dropbox (Figure H).

Figure H

 

Figure H
 

You can link Readiris Pro to cloud providers.

5.  SolarSys DocScan Pro OCR

SolarSys DocScan Pro OCR is a utility for scanning documents and converting them to PDF format (Figure I). It costs $295.00 (USD), but a free trial is available for download. In addition to the basic image conversion process, SolarSys DocScan Pro OCR also performs optical character recognition in order to make the documents searchable.

Figure I

 

Figure I
 

SolarSys DocScan Pro OCR window.

The program offers a number of features that give you control of everything from document formatting to mouse functionality. The software even supports the installation of additional languages (Figure K).

Figure K

 

Figure K
 

The Language tab in SolarSys DocScan Pro OCR.

What is your favorite tool for converting paper documents to PDF? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.

 

 

21 comments
ericnh
ericnh

Good list of scanning applications. These apps will be very useful when an emergency situation arises especially while travelling or don’t have an access to a scanner. I am using an app named camscanner, which produces decent results. But when we have time and access to a dedicated scanner, I suggest to go with them because scanner apps can never replace the quality results from dedicated scanners. I always use a dedicated scanner or services of a document scanning company like Ash Conversions International in Weston to scan important office documents because apps almost never produce quality required for such documents.

liorwn
liorwn

I love this list. I use ReadIris personally and it really is great, we then take the scanned pdf files to PDF2XL (http://www.cogniview.com) to convert it to Excel. The two work amazingly well together. I know their Enterprise version has support for direct acquisition from a scanner to PDF and to Excel but we use ReadIris for a bunch of other things too!

Ron_007
Ron_007

FYI: ABBYY Finereader and Office 2013 are a known BAD MIX!

The version of ABBYY that ships with many printers cause unexpected problems with Office 2013 applications. These problems happen at any time, not just when you are using FineReader.

There are 2 fixes. If you don't use the tool, uninstall it.  If you do use it, try updating FineReader to the most current version. 

When you encounter the error, generally it displays one of the "Something went wrong ... " error messages. You may also have to re-install Office to fix that problem.

goedpaul
goedpaul

I don't understand why Nitro Pro is not included - it's not the most expensive and does a great job with scanning, OCR, and editing.

kitekrazy
kitekrazy

San with Irfan View and use any free PDF convertor.

jgheuser
jgheuser

Honestly, I think this so called article tries to cover too much ground in too small an area. Whats needed here, is detailed side-by-side comparison of each of these programs. As far as OCR software goes, I would highly recommend Abby Fine Reader because it does a really good job.

danielhartworth
danielhartworth

Useful tips, I'm trying to go paperless too and it feels quite good. I use a lot of cloud storage services, such as google drive, skydrive or dropbox, speaking of that I'd like to add another one to the list. It's a new web app, unioncy.com and it's really helpful for tracking warranties and keeping all product information and documentation in the cloud. This way you can go paperless and don't have to worry about lost receipts or manuals again.

jmbaynes
jmbaynes

There are tons out there, but free should be a key word. PDF creator hosted on source forge is what I've used for years. I think they are now associated with soda pdf, but the pdf creator printer is still available and being updated constantly. It work even in commercial environments on servers. Now that is a small miracle.  And it has the ability to create multiple virtual pdf printers with different settings. For example you can have it save with passwords, or autosave to a specific folder.  Check it out http://www.pdfforge.org/pdfcreator

Baker747
Baker747

We have used Cute Pdf for several years with great success.

dhubbard1500
dhubbard1500

Why not just use the builtin functions of your printer/fax/scanner/copier?  Goes right the folder of choice as a PDF.  Been doing this for several years with no problems.  Very nice and reliable Canon MX410.  Just wanted to pass ths along.

Bardcel
Bardcel

I've being using OpenOffice.org for years now to convert documents to PDF and it's free to download!

danmar_z
danmar_z

If you download Soda from the developer's web site instead of from CNET you probably won't have to bother with the crapware that CNET's "CNET Installer Enabled" stub files add to the software. I would start there: http://sodapdf.com/

essex133
essex133

Don't most scanners come with free OCR software like AbbyFineReader, as mine did? I would find it more helpful to know about apps that can convert existing documents to PDF?

goedpaul
goedpaul

I was surprised to not see Nitro Pro not included. It has integration into Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OCR capability, import from scanner, PDF printer, extraction of images from PDF document, watermarks, and much more. Free trial and $139.99 for the full version, significant discount for upgrades.

sureorunsure
sureorunsure

@goedpaul you're quite expensive, at wild goose chases with your language selection, even if the software you mentioned is worthwhile

sankaran.murthy
sankaran.murthy

@kitekrazy IrfanView allows the user to save the scanned document as .pdf. The saved file can be opened by popular readers such as Acrobat, PDF X-View etc. I don't know how sophisticated the conversion is and what is the downside.

Gisabun
Gisabun

@jmbaynes "Bad Gateway" I got with your link. Oh. If it doesn't allow scanning to PDF, it doesn't count.

Gisabun
Gisabun

@Baker747 You can't scan with it. Hence the title of this page...

sankaran.murthy
sankaran.murthy

@Gisabun @jmbaynes I use pdf creator to convert my creations (.docx etc) to pdf. Irfanview is my choice for scanning to pdf. I had no trouble finding a valid link using internet searching.

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