In the past, iPhone users had to download a third-party app in order to scan documents and save them in a digital format on their phone. However, since the release of iOS 11 in 2017, you’ve been able to scan documents natively using the built-in Notes app.
Granted, some third-party document scanning apps still come with way more features than Apple’s Notes app, but if all you need to do is digitize a simple form and nothing else, the Notes app is the way to go.
To get started, open up the Notes app on your iPhone and tap on the New Note button down in the bottom-right corner of the screen. You can also select an existing note if you want to insert the document into that note instead of a new note altogether.
Next, tap the camera icon above the keyboard. (On iPhones running an older version of iOS, tap the plus sign icon here instead.)
Select “Scan Documents” when the menu pops up appears.
A camera screen will appear where you’ll fit the document within the frame. You’ll see a yellow box highlight the document and then it will automatically scan the document for you (no need to tap on the shutter button).
If you want to disable the automatic shutter, just tap on “Auto” in the top-right corner to change it to manual.
You can also change some other settings, like the color of the document (color, grayscale, or black and white), as well as enable the flash or not.
After you scan your first document, you can continue to scan more documents if you need to. Otherwise, tap on “Save” when you’re done.
You’ll be taken back to the note where your scanned document will be inserted. From there, you can jot down some notes about the document if you wish. Otherwise, tap “Done” in the top-right corner to save the note.
When you go back to the main screen, you’ll see the new note in the list, along with a thumbnail of the scanned document. Note that Notes can’t read the text of the scanned document with optical character recognition (OCR)—again, you’ll need a more powerful app for that—but if you need some physical documents in your notes, this is a great way to keep them on hand.