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How to Use a Flatbed Scanner

by Paul Sanders

Grey flatbed scanner opening

Things You Need:

  • Computer
  • Flatbed scanner
  • Document or photo
  • USB cable

Scanning at home by using a flatbed scanner is the best way to convert your photographs and other documents into image files that can be sent via email to your friends and family all around the world. Using a flatbed scanner, you can scan business documents and email instead of faxing them, allowing you to add your signature to a high-quality document for approval if need be.

Using a Scanner:

  1. Connect your scanner. Connect your flatbed scanner to your computer with the USB cable and plug the power cable into the scanner and the wall outlet. If you haven't already, install the software that came with your scanner. Some flatbed scanners may automatically install themselves once you connect them. Other scanners will require that you download the necessary software from a manufacturer's website. Consult your scanner's user manual for installation instructions.

  2. Place your document. Open the top of the flatbed scanner and place your document facedown on the glass. Align the document using the arrows or other markings surrounding the glass surface of the scanner and close the lid.

  3. Save your scanned files. Before or after the scan, you may be asked where on your computer you would like to save the scanned image. Select a location or destination folder which will be easy to find, such as the desktop.

  4. Depending on your flatbed scanner's software, you may be asked to select what kind of document you would like to scan. Often these options are black and white photo, color photo, black and white document, color document or newspaper. Select the appropriate option for your document.

  5. The program will also give you options as to what kind of image file you would like to create. The default file type is a "jpg" and is usually the one that can be emailed or and viewed on most computers.

  6. You may also be required to select a resolution for your image. Most flatbed scanners are capable of creating high-resolution files, which can take up more memory on your computer and may be difficult to email. Depending on your use for the final scanned image, you may need high or low resolution. Experiment with different resolutions to find which works best for your purposes.

  7. Begin scanning. Depending on your scanner, you may need to press a button on the flatbed scanner itself to begin scanning. This option will usually be available on your computer screen using the flatbed scanner software. When the scanner has finished, your computer may display the scanned image of your document or open the folder where it has saved the scanned image file.

Flatbed Scanner Tips:

  1. Try not to touch the glass bed of the flatbed scanner. Your fingers will leave oily smudges that can be difficult to remove without a special cleaner, and these smudges can build up over time, affecting the quality of your scans.

  2. Do not lift the lid of the scanner while it is operating. Flatbed scanners typically use very bright lights to illuminate your photo or document. Lifting the lid can expose your eyes to damaging light.

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