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There comes a time when you might need to scan a document on Windows 11. It could be an important document you signed that you need to email or just something you might want to digitize for later. Well, if you're using a great Windows tablet or an external webcam, you can scan documents pretty easily. The Windows 11 camera app offers the option to scan a document, and then save it as a photo on your device. You also can use a third-party app like HP Scan and Capture to turn your photos into scans. And though it takes a little extra work, you also can use an OCR tool to capture text from images, helping avoid the need to scan.

How to scan documents on Windows 11 using the Camera app

The Windows 11 camera app offers a document-scanning experience. This is granted that you're using an external webcam, or your tablet has both a front-facing and a rear-facing webcam. If you're on a laptop with a great 1080p integrated user-facing webcam, you can't scan documents and will need to use an external webcam to follow this guide.

  1. Open the Windows 11 camera app. If you can't find it, search for Camera in the Windows 11 Start Menu.
  2. Click on the switch webcam button on the top right of the app and switch over to an external webcam, or a rear-facing webcam.
    Switch webcam button in Windows 11
  3. Put the document that you want to scan on a table.
  4. Click the up or down arrow next to the capture button until you see an icon of a document. This will be the scanning feature.
  5. Line up your document in the blue frame shown by the camera app and then tap on the circular icon to capture it.
    scanning a document in Windows 11
  6. Your photo will be saved in the camera roll.
  7. Go to File Explorer, choose Pictures, and then Camera Roll to see your photo.

Once you found the scanned photo, you can convert it to a PDF using an online converter, or simply email the photo as you see fit.

How to scan documents on Windows 11 using a third-party app

If the Windows 11 camera app is giving you issues with scanning documents, you can consider using a third-party app instead. A good example is HP Scan and Capture.

  1. Launch the HP Scan and Capture app.
  2. Choose Capture Documents.
    HP Scan and Capture
  3. When prompted, in the Settings menu, choose Select Device and then choose Camera.
  4. Put your document down on a table.
  5. When the camera opens, choose the circular capture button to take a photo.
    HP Scan and capture capturing a photo
  6. Click Done
  7. The photo will be captured, and you can double-click on the photo and choose Crop to crop the photo of your document accordingly and click Crop Original to save it.
    Cropping a photo in HP Scan app
  8. Press the back button and then press Save and choose a location to save the photo.

Once you save your photo, you can attach it to an email, and share it in an app, just like you would a regular document. There are no other extra steps needed!

How to grab text from a photo with an OCR Tool

Though most people will prefer scanning a photo to a Windows PC, you also can grab text from a scanned document, or any photo on Windows using an OCR tool. This is a feature found in Microsoft PowerToys. It might be useful if you don't want to manually type out something that you see on your screen. Here's how to use it.

  1. Download the latest version of PowerToys.
  2. Install the app and follow the steps on your screen.
  3. Open the PowerToys settings app.
  4. Make sure that the toggle box for Enable Text Extractor is checked.
    PowerToys Text Exactor Windows 11
  5. Open the document or photo you want to extract text from. Press the Windows Key, Shift, and T buttons on your keyboard.
  6. Drag the mouse over what you want to copy.
  7. Paste the text into a document with Ctrl and V.

As you can tell, it's pretty simple to scan a document in Windows 11 using just your webcam. While the image might not end up as detailed as it might be when you take a dedicated scan with a printer or a scanner, it's a nifty trick to use in last-minute situations. I've done this myself many times when signing firms for school, work, and even other personal situations.