Although there are several options out there, you don't need to buy scanning software to scan on a Mac. Popular packages such as VueScan leave a watermark unless you purchase the full version but OS X comes with a free tool called Image Capture which is perfect for basic scanning.

Just search in Spotlight for Image Capture and the main interface will open. If you've got a scanner attached, it will automatically detect it:

You're then ready to configure your scan.

Image Capture gives you two options - Flatbed (when you place the document face down on the scanner surface) or Feeder (when you feed a document into the scanner). It also presents you with a series of other options such as whether to scan in color or black and white, the resolution, where to save the file and which format you want to save it in:

Once you've customized it as you want, just hit Scan:

When the initial impression is revealed, use the selection tool to more accurately identify the part of the page you want to scan or the boundaries of the page if you want the entire thing. Scan again and you're done!

You'll find scans named by a generic "Scan" file name in the folder you chose as your target destination.


  • grabowski |

    The Mac Image Capture function is very limited in functionality and quality. As said, just for basic scanning, for archiving documents.

    Most scanners come with a scanning software, I would prefer using that manufacturer software.

    For serious scanning of photographical material in high resolution with image optimization functionality, you have to use a more professional tool. My first choice for that is SilverFast scanning software.

  • Nick Mead |
    Nick Mead

    Absolutely - if you're doing professional work then software is essential. If you just need it to scan the odd document, Image Capture is fine.

  • Cary Wolfson |
    Cary Wolfson

    Thanks, Nick. I've been using the creaky Presto! PageManager that came with my scanner. When it started throwing spinning beachballs at me I was ready to throw up my hands until I found this page. As you say, Image Capture is perfect for scanning the odd document.

  • Nick Mead |
    Nick Mead

    @Cary, Glad it helped!

  • Michael Young |
    Michael Young

    Is OCR included? I'm scanning with a Canon MX300 combined copier/printer/fax/scanner.

  • Art |

    " If you've got a scanner attached, it will automatically detect it:" -- didn't work here for a CanoScan N656U with OS X 10.5.8 on my PowerBook; instead, Image Capture indicated no device was connected. Does IC only work for certain scanners? Thanks!

  • McKinley |

    Thank you SOOOOOO much for this. I have not been able to scan for months, and this just saved me. Hoooooray!

Your avatar