Ever been asked, “Can you just sign it and scan it back to me?”

While your lips say, “Sure,” over the phone, your mind might be saying, “Hmmm…now, how exactly do I do that?”

Actually, there are several ways, and they are all pretty easy.

The question of how to scan from printer to laptop used to be pretty tricky. Networking was more rigid, file types between systems did not always match, and there was often more headache involved than it was worth. However, modern multifunction printers (MFPs) and standalone copiers have multiple options to do this increasingly common task.  So many that you might not know which one to choose. But not to worry! We are going to discuss them all.


First: Photocopy vs. Scan

Exactly what is the difference? When you lay a document on the glass (or feed a stack of them through the feeder tray), each time the machine passes the light over the imaging plate, it creates a bitmapped image. Whether that image is color or black & white depends on the settings used.

Power User Tip: Even if the device only prints black and white, the odds are very good that your scanner will scan in color; the hardware is the same.

When making a copy, that digital file is sent to the print engine. When scanning, that file is saved in your preferred format.

Power User Tip: Only PDF offers a multipage format. All other scan file types are single page only.

Let’s talk about the settings for a bit

Resolution is the detail the image holds, expressed in the number of dots (print) or pixels (screen) per inch your image will have. The more you have, the more info your image file contains, but the larger the file size. When emailing your scans, especially multipage files, this can be important.

Here is a complete resolution calculator if you want to figure out exactly the best ratio.

The next consideration is the scanning mode:

  • First is the B&W scan1 bit per pixel. Lowest file size, least amount of info in the file, think FAX quality printing.
  • Grayscale is next – 8 bits per pixel. Much cleaner printing; if you have no color requirements in your scan, this is the best way to go.
  • Color is 24 bits per pixel, 8 per RGB channel. Depending on your resolution, this can mean files larger than many email systems will accept.

So now that you have an understanding of your potential file size let’s look at how you can access the file to use it.

There are a lot of variables to your scanning and saving document scenarios, and while we cannot cover ALL of them, let’s look at the basics.

If you are scanning on a networked machine, and you have access to print on it – congratulations, your problem is solved for you; you can scan the file and put it in your own “User Box” on your workstation access it from there.

You could also scan to a previously established folder on your network server if it has permission to access the folder. Ask your IT team to ensure this is the case.

We have discussed the ways to connect your laptop or desktop PC to the MFP or copier/scanner. However, even if you are not an assigned user on the network the machine is plugged into, you can still get your scan a couple of ways.

Scan to email

Simply send your scan to your own email address, it will arrive as an attachment, and you can either forward it to the recipient or save it to your hard drive for future use. This method also supplies a timestamp, if required.

 Scan to FTP

Large files – multipage full-color scans – can become so large, they may not be able to pass through most corporate email servers, so scanning to FTP is the best option. Large file sizes and secure file transfer is what FTP was made for.

Scan to USB

This is often the easiest of all. Simply plug your USB drive into the side of the console, and when configuring your scan, select the USB drive as the destination.


How to Scan from Printer to Laptop on a Windows Device


Follow the steps below to scan from a printer to laptop if you are on a Windows device:


Step 1

First, make sure your computer is connected to the scanner, whether that means connecting both machines with a cord or making sure they are both within your Wi-Fi range.


Step 2

Place your intended document face-down on the scanner. Then, simply close the lid.


Step 3

Using your laptop, select “Start” in the lower-left corner of your screen.


Step 4

Next, open up “Fax and Scan”; you can either open it in your desktop apps or by typing in the name on the search bar.


Step 5

Then click the tab “New Scan” in the upper left corner of your screen. At this point, a new window will open.


Step 6

Check to make sure the printer is correct in the upper left-hand corner of the new window: if not, click on “Change,” and select the correct printer you intend to use.


Step 7
  • Pick the right setting:
  • Choose the right type of file in the “Profile” section.
  • Choose black and white or color.
  • Pick the file type you want your scan saved as (i.e., PDF or JPEG).
  • Adjust resolution, brightness, and contrast, as needed (if applicable).


Step 8

Be sure to preview the document before you scan; if anything looks askew, now is the time to adjust it. Then repeat the process (to adjust and preview) to make sure it’s just right before scanning your document.


Step 9

Finally, click “Scan” to scan the document. When you’re done, you can find your scanned document by following these simple steps:

  • First, click on the “Start” button.
  • Next open “File Explorer.”
  • Then click on “Documents.”
  • Finally, click on “Scanned Documents.”

How to Scan From Printer to Laptop - Common Sense Business Solutions

How to Scan from Printer to Laptop on a Mac Device


Follow the steps below to scan from printer to Mac device:


Step 1

First, make sure you are connected to your printer, whether that means connecting both

machines with a cord or making sure they are both within your Wi-Fi range.


Step 2

What’s next? Simply click on the Apple Logo in the upper left-hand corner of your home

screen: this will open the Apple Menu.


Step 3

Click on “System Preferences.”


Step 4

Click on “Scanners and Printers.”


Step 5

Next, locate the left-hand column, and click on the printer/scanner you’d like to use.


Step 6

Click on “Scan.”


Step 7

Click on “Open Scanner.”


Step 8

Click on “Show Details.”


Step 9

Now, it’s time to adjust details:

  • Pick the file type you want (i.e., JPEG) under “Format.”
  • Choose black and white or color under “Kind.”
  • Pick where you want the document to be stored under “Scan to.”
  • Adjust resolution, size, etc., as needed.


Step 10

Finally, it’s time! Click “Scan.” Once the scan is complete, you can open the location where you saved the document, and it will be saved there and ready to open. So, there you have it. It can be quite easy to learn how to scan from a printer to a laptop: you just need to follow a few simple steps, be patient, and voila!


If your Technical Issues Still Persist

Still having technical difficulties? Don’t fret! We’ve all been there. But there are abundant resources available that can lend you a hand. You can always check online forums, connect with friends, or contact us here at CSBS to get answers to any questions you might have regarding your particular scanning needs or equipment. In the end, learning how to scan from a printer to a laptop is a valuable skill you will be grateful to have.

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