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Previously, we looked at how to set up a scanner on your Mac, and it turns out it's really just a matter of making sure it's connected to your Mac, or to your network, and then opening one of two built-in applications to perform the scan. Again, the two applications are Preview and Image Capture, both are which are found in your Applications folder. In this movie, we'll look at the specifics of how to scan. I'm going to use Image Capture for these examples, but this will apply to scanning with Preview as well. And for this example, I've place the booklet from a CD on the scanning bit of my scanner. So let's start up Image Capture. I'm going to select my scanner, under Shared.
If your scanner is connected directly to your Mac with USB, you'll find it under Devices. So the scanner is going to take a moment to warm up here, and once the scanner warms up, it'll do what's called an Overview scan. This is a preview scan, so you can see where the items on your scanner bed are, and you can make sure that you're going to scan all the parts that you want to capture. If you don't see a panel to the right of the Image Capture, like I have here on my screen, you probably have your Details hidden, in which case, just click the Show Details button. Again, Image Capture is going to do another Overview scan because I changed the view of my window. All right, so let's work our way down from the top of this area and look at what some of our options are.
The first menu here is where you can select the kind of item you're scanning. Now, in most cases, you'll probably be scanning either photos or documents, and the settings you use will vary based on what you're scanning and what you're using the scanned image for. So under the Kind menu here, you can choose Text, Black & White, or Color. I'm not a big fan of the Text option because it reduces the colors used in your scan to just black or white, with no levels or gray. So you can see what that looks like over here in the Preview window. Even if you're just scanning text, it usually doesn't look all that great. I generally recommend choosing Black & White, even if you're just scanning text, as you get more control of the levels of gray.
You can see how I get a Grays menu now, and I can choose 256, or even thousands of levels of grays. You'll get a clearer scan by choosing Black & White over text. And if you're scanning photos, or any document with color that you has to keep, choose Color. That gives us the option of millions or even billions of colors, though it may depend on the capabilities of your scanner too. Generally, the more colors or levels of gray you choose to include, the larger your scanned file size will be. But another significant determining factor of file size, and the quality of the scan for that matter, is the resolution you scan at.
Resolution refers to how many dots per inch, or dpi, you want to capture. The more dots the higher the resolution. If you want to a good all-purpose scan of the photo or document, 300 dpi is a good level to select. That will give you the resolution you need to produce a good-looking printout of your scan. If you intend to e-mail a scanned photo, or put it on the web, you can still scan at 300 dpi, but you'll need to reduce the resolution and file size in an image editing program like Photoshop or iPhoto before you can send it off. Images for the web are generally 72 dpi - you can see we have an option here for 75 - but I don't recommend scanning at this level.
Ideally, you want a higher-quality scan so you can grab lots of color and detail from the image before you then reduce the dpi through software. But if you're in a rush, or don't know how to use image editing software, you can scan at 75 dpi when you want to deliver your scanned images over the Internet. I'm going to leave mine at 300. Now the Size settings refers to the physical dimensions of the area you're going to scan. Notice this dotted line around my CD cover. This represents the area that's going to be scanned, but it's actually a bit too large at this point. So I'm going to grab the corner of this rectangle and drag up.
Now drag the middle dot there to drag down. Basically, I just want to drag the edges of the rectangle so that they are closer to the edges of my cover. So you can see how the size dimensions have changed here. If you placed your item on the scanner kind of crooked, you can use this handle here to rotate the selection box, but mine is already pretty straight so I'm going to change my Rotation Angle back to 0. When Detect separate items is checked, the scanner software tries to find individual items you've placed on the scanner. For example, you can place maybe 3 or 4 photos on the scanner, depending on the size of the photos, and with this option checked, you'll probably see individual rectangles drawn around each item.
It really depends on how well the scanner can detect those individual items, based on the contrast to the background. But you can always add or edit the rectangles by drawing your own, or reducing the existing ones. For instance, if there were another photo down here, I could just click with my mouse and drag out another box around that item, and now I have two boxes. So anything within one of these selection areas will be scanned as an individual file. If you draw a rectangle by mistake, just click in it once to select it and then press the Delete or Backspace key on your keyboard to get rid of it. Next, we have the Scan To menu, and this where you determine where the scanned file will be saved.
You have a couple preset locations, like your Pictures folder, your Desktop, or Documents, or even Mail if you want to attach your scanned document immediately to an e-mail message. I'm going to select Desktop. Next, you want to type a name for your file. I'll just call mine gte, short for Goodnight To Everyone, which is the name of the CD I'm scanning. And then you have the Format menu for selecting the type of image file you want to create. If you want the highest resolution format, you'll choose TIFF, but that will also produce the largest file sizes. PNG is a standard all around web format, and PDF is the Adobe Reader format, which anyone can open on any Mac or any PC with a copy of Adobe Reader installed.
I tend to stick with TIFF because I often do some editing to my scans after I scan them. And again, I initially want as high a resolution as possible. Next, we have the Image Correction menu. If you select Manual, you'll get options for brightness, tint, temperature, and saturation. If you're familiar with these sorts of controls, feel free to play around with them. Even if you're not sure what they do, you can drag sliders around and see the results. If you mess up the appearance too badly just click the Restore Defaults button, or you can set Image Correction back to None.
Similarly, the remaining check boxes and menus below are also for image correction, and I'm not get into details for them here. Most people tend to do their image corrections in other programs anyway since the tools here are kind of limited. But once you've made your selections here, and you're ready to scan, click Scan. So now my scanner is scanning for real and applying all the settings I've selected. And once it's done, I'll find the scanned file sitting here on my desktop, just as I specified, and now I can open it up and check it out. So that's the basics of scanning on your Mac.
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