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Scanner Basics

Friday, April 7th, 2006 by | Filed Under: Hardware & Peripherals

I just bought a new scanner, but I really have no idea how to use it. Can you give me some basics on it?

To begin, a scanner is much like a copy machine. It has a glass surface under a lid and a motion light that scans the material you place on it. The only difference is that scanners can process color much better and it has more controls.

You can scan all sorts of material with a scanner, including pictures, paper documents like bank statements, pages from books, magazine articles, maps and even things like coins (3D objects that don’t have a lot of dimension). Once you scan the material, it makes an image in the memory of your computer, instead of another piece of paper like a copy machine does.

Once you have your digital image on your computer, you can bring it up on your monitor, e-mail it, print it or anything you want to do with it. Scanning gives you a lot more options.

You do have to have software to go along with your scanner. A lot of times, the software that will work best with your scanner will come along with it when you buy it. If not, you can do a search online to find different kinds of scanner software that will work with your machine. Some scanning software can work on its own, but most have a toolbar, similar to one you see in a Web browser, that will guide you through the scanning process.

Scanners also often work with a TWAIN driver, which is also used with other devices like digital cameras. The TWAIN driver is basically the software that is provided by the scanner manufacturer to make your scanner work. All scanner manufacturers have agreed on using a TWAIN driver, so your scanner will come with the correct driver made specifically for your type of scanner. It also helps transfer the scanned material into the image that will show up on your computer screen.

To get started, open the image program that came with your scanner (or if you use a different imaging program, open that). Open the lid of your scanner and place the document, photo or whatever you’re scanning onto the glass bed. Then close the lid. Make sure you read through the manual that comes with your scanner to be sure there are no additional steps that I may be missing in this article.

You may also have to select the TWAIN driver for your scanner if it doesn’t automatically come up, but all of that should be explained in your manual. Now, you will just press the Scan button to scan the item and make an image. It usually takes anywhere between 15 to 60 seconds to complete the scan.

Once the image is scanned, it will appear on your screen and you can modify it any way you want. If it’s a picture, you can rotate it, clear out red eye, etc. If it’s a text document, you can make the text larger, highlight things, etc. You can do whatever you want with the tools that your scanning software provides.

Once you have the item edited the way you want it, you can save it just like you would anything else. Go to File, Save As and choose a TIF or JPEG format. You can place it wherever you want (in My Documents, My Pictures, on a flash drive, etc). You can also print it right then if you so choose.

Note: All scanners are different and you will have to read through your manual for specific instructions from what I have given you. Always consult your manual if you run into problems. The scanning process is pretty simple though, so have fun with it and happy scanning!

~ Erin

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