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Are there any programs for Mac OS X that serve as an alternative for Preview for scanning?

Here are some features I am looking for:

  • Free, or cheap
  • Ability to scan multi-page documents
  • Speed
  • (Optional) Scan over WiFi

I have used Simple Scan on Ubuntu before and I really like it. Maybe something similar to Simple Scan for Mac?

Thanks in advance!

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It just occurred to me: are you sure the scanner is plugged into a High-speed USB port?? – Josh Sep 22 '10 at 2:57
I am pretty sure, it is connected to a decently recent USB hub which is connected to my (still pretty recent) MacBook. – Wuffers Sep 24 '10 at 0:01
Man: On some Mac models not all the USB ports are high speed. (This might just apply to older models? I'm not sure. I know it's true on some G5s) I believe there's a way in Apple System Profiler to see if it's high-speed or not. I don't recall the exact steps, maybe another SU question is in order? :-) – Josh Sep 25 '10 at 15:12
@Josh: I looked in System Profiler at the USB tab. The USB busses are labled as High-Speed. Here is a screenshot for more information: – Wuffers Sep 25 '10 at 16:30

If you are running Mac OS X 10.6, you can open up the Print & Fax pane in System Preferences. Once there, select the printer/scanner. On the right, there should be another menu. Hit Scan, then hit Open Scanner. Now you have full control of what to scan and the output format.

System Preferences - Scan

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Have you tried Image Capture? It's built into OS X (Located in the Applications folder) and can scan from a USB scanner attached to another Mac.

More info is available at Wikipedia.

EDIT: You mentioned in chat that Image Capture was too slow. It just occurred to me: are you sure the scanner is plugged into a High-speed USB port??

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Yes, I have tried Image Capture, it still lacks the multi-page feature I want though. – Wuffers Sep 24 '10 at 0:02
And, yes. It is in a highspeed USB port. It is a new (<1 year) printer and my Mac is a late '08 model. – Wuffers Oct 10 '10 at 14:43
As of 10.8 (at least), Image Capture supports multi-page documents and has supported them for a while maybe as far back as 10.5. I scan from a multi-function canon over my wireless network regularly. If I use the feeder, it scans all pages. As long as you check "Combine into a single document" and don't change the file name, you can do multiple scans and it will just keep adding pages to the same PDF. – Harvey Jan 17 '13 at 21:40

I see,


with preview solution:

The first step is to create an application that concatenates PDFs. This is much easier than



Start up the Automator application

Automator will ask you to “choose a template for your workflow.” Pick the one named


Drag and drop Actions from the menus on the left to create a workflow that looks like this:

From the Automator, save this workflow somewhere. You now have an application that

concatenates PDFs.

Optionally, put this application in your Pictures folder, or put it somewhere else and make a symlink to it in your pictures folder.

Now that you have a PDF-concatenator application, you can use it from the Finder by selecting the PDFs that you want to concatenate and then dragging-and-dropping them onto the app.


When you scan documents from the Printer/Scanner app, they end up by default in your Pictures folder with names like Scan.pdf, Scan 1.pdf, etc. I created an empty file called Scan.pdf in that directory to make sure that all my actual scans would be named sequentially as Scan 1.pdf, Scan 2.pdf, and so on.

Based on this setup, my procedure for scanning a multi-page document into a single PDF using the flatbed scanner is:

Open up the Printer/Scanner window and use it to scan each page. In the Finder, go to the Pictures folder. Select the PDFs representing the scanned pages. Drag and drop the selected files onto the PDF-concatenator application’s icon. The combined document will open in Preview. From Preview, save it as whatever file name you like. That last step–saving the file from Preview–is essential. The Automator action that does the actual concatenation puts the temporary file in a randomly-named file under /var/folders. My automator script, though, moves this temporary file to the Trash after opening it in Preview. If the document you’ve just scanned contains sensitive data, such as a bank statement, I recommend that you 1) from Preview, save your document someplace secure, like an encrypted disk image, and 2) from the finder menu, use the Secure Empty Trash operation to delete the temporary file.

its free,

other way: adobe Acrobat for mac but its way to expensive...

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Thank you. But Preview is still much too slow. I sometimes need to scan a lot of things and it takes too much time with preview. With Simple Scan on Ubuntu I could just click Scan, Scan, Scan, Save. And in less than one minute I would have a three page document saved. – Wuffers Oct 8 '10 at 22:28

I'm using VueScan which is very versatile and works fine for most purposes. It supports a lot of scanners and allows you to adjust many settings. Also not too expensive (about US$40).

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I tried the TWAIN SANE Interface for MacOS X. I needed it for network scanning, but I noticed that it included scanimage, which seems faster than Image Capture.

To install, I installed libusb, then SANE Backends, then TWAIN SANE Interface, then SANE Preference Panel. This adds a new panel to Preferences. You may need to configure your scanner - see the SANE documents, find your driver in the SANE preferences panel, click "configure", and configure away. It is working when you can run scanimage -L in a terminal and see your scanner. Until that point, you'll have to sweat through the SANE docs.

Once your scanner is detected, you can run scanimage > test.pnm to scan an image. At that point, you may want to install ImageMagick, possibly with macports, so that you can run convert test.pnm test.jpg, or even convert test1.pnm test2.pnm test3.pnm test.pdf. Maybe too much for some, but if you are coming from Ubuntu, maybe you aren't scared of the command line.

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