Your Mac comes with an application called Image Capture that is designed, literally, to capture images from devices like cameras and scanners. It has an interface that is easy to navigate and step through when you want to scan a print medium like a document or a book.

Look for another scanning tutorial in two weeks about how to scan using an iPhone or iPad.

Connect to Scanner

When you open Image Capture for the first time, it may look something like this. Look closely at the list at the top of the sidebar on the left.

If your scanner is wired, that is, connected to your Mac by USB, you will probably see it in the Devices section. If you connect wirelessly, then it will be in the Shared section.

To reveal a shared scanner, mouse over the Shared section and click Show; then click your scanner. For both types, click Show Details at the bottom.

Review Settings

After you put a document on the scanner glass and click Overview, if you’re scanning for the first time, you’ll probably see something like this. Now, it’s important to review most of the scan settings on the right side so you capture the image you want and save or act on it as desired.

Start at the top and work your way down, one setting at a time. For images you plan to print, I recommend at least 150 dpi for text and 300 dpi for graphics.

If you’re using a document feeder instead to scan one or more pages, you have the additional option of combining the pages into a single document. You also don’t have to worry as much about the Size settings in the next section.

Scan Size

The Size settings are especially important. The default setting is for Image Capture to Detect Separate Items on the glass. For example, if you were scanning photographs, you could capture more than one at a time and save them as separate image files.

In this case, though, I want to scan the single image of this recipe book cover, so I would turn off Auto Selection. Then, I would drag a box to select and enclose the recipe book image.

Save Scan

Finally, there are settings to save the scan. First, identify where you want to save the file or how you want to act on it. You can save to a folder on your Mac, import the image directly into Photos, open it in Preview to annotate, or open with Mail to attach to an email.

Second, type the name you want to give the file. Third, identify what type of file you want to create. In most cases, if you are scanning a document, choose PDF; otherwise, choose JPEG.

Scan Results

Once you have all the settings you want and you’ve selected the portion of the image you want to scan, click Scan.

From the Scan Results window, you can reveal a file you saved. Or, the other application you chose will be on the screen with the image you captured.

If you work through the scan settings carefully, you can successfully capture your desired image. If you rush the process, you might get confused or end up somewhere you didn’t expect.

Let me know if you’re still struggling or need further guidance. I can also offer recommendations if you want to buy a scanner. There are standalone flatbed units, ones combined with a printer, and others designed for speedy document scanning.