Capturing Digital Images Using a Scanner

A scanner enables you to create a digital image from a hard-copy image. The uses for a scanner are almost limitless; these include scanning photographs, business cards, slides and film, 3D objects, and so on. Having and using a scanner enables you to bring items from the analog age into the digital lifestyle.

You can scan images in three basic ways: using Image Capture, using the scanner's software, or scanning through an image-editing application.

Scanning Images Using Image Capture

If the scanner you use is compatible with the Image Capture application, you can use that application to scan images. Using Image Capture to download images from a scanner is quite similar to using it to download images from a camera. By default, Image Capture will open when your Mac detects a compatible scanner and you press its Scan button.

To learn how to use Image Capture, see "Using Image Capture to Download Images," p. 417.

Scanning Images Using the Scanner's Software

Scanners typically include an application you can use to scan images. The application you use depends on the software that was provided with the scanner. If your scanner offers one-button scanning, when you press the Scan button, the scanner's software will be launched and the image will be scanned.

With most scanning software, you can choose to scan automatically, in which case the scanner sets itself, or manually, in which case you control the various scan settings (such as resolution, size, color depth, and so on).

Scanning Images Using an Image-Editing Application

Recognizing the need for a standard means of addressing imaging devices, such as scanners, the TWAIN standard was developed. This standard provides a consistent means for software to interface with a scanner. Most image-editing applications and scanners support this standard, which means that you can usually scan an image from within an editing application.


In case you are wondering, TWAIN is not an acronym. It is a play on words, as in "never the twain shall meet."

For example, to scan from within Photoshop, you use the application's Acquire command. After you choose the tool you want to use, such as TWAIN or the scanner's own software, you move directly into the scanning application. Once there, you scan the image. When the scan is complete, the image is opened in the application from which you scanned it.

    Part I: Mac OS X: Exploring the Core
    Part III: Mac OS X: Living the Digital Lifestyle