What's the best software to use to scan documents direct to a multi-page PDF. I want to scan a series of sheets directly to a PDF file with as little manual intervention as possible.

Software must work with Vista/Windows 7. The scanners are cheap Canon USB flatbed scanners.



I'm using the Scan to PDF software and am very happy with the results. I'm using it with a LIDE 35 scanner by Canon - works like a charm!

It's shareware, and at $20 for home use, it's well worth it's price!


  • Nice, but their OCR bundle brings the price up to US$ 379 - making searchable PDFs is valuable (so it's worth doing right), but that's pretty steep. Might be cheaper to buy a scanner with bundled software that includes OCR.
    – Argalatyr
    Aug 23 '09 at 15:28
  • If you need that feature, yes, then that cost is valid. I never felt like I need that (as a private, home user).
    – marc_s
    Aug 23 '09 at 18:12

I prefer using the Document Imaging that comes with Microsoft Office. It supports most scanners / OCR and also will do OCR.

Once its scanned I will print to PDF using PDF Creator (Free OSS)


Not a direct answer, but when making your choice, you may consider to choose something that does Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on the fly. This gets you searchable PDFs that also allow for selecting the text.

So: software that puts a "layer" of selectable and searchable text behind the scanned image.

In fact many Canon scanners come with OmniPage SE as both a standalone application and also tightly integrated in the scan tasks. When using the Canon software to scan directly to PDF, Omnipage SE works in the background without any human intervention. So: it is not 100% accurate, but the Canon solution works quickly and user friendly.

(The creator of OmniPage also sells the cheaper PDF Converter Professional, which as of version 6 can scan directly to PDF and can do more magic on PDF for you. Some fancy PDF readers may do the OCR on the fly as well, even if not included in the document. That will not allow searching from the operating system though, unless the operating system includes OCR by itself.)


IrfanView has a plugin for writing PDF files. You can combine that with its existing "obtain image from scanner" function to write a PDF.

  • Does that work with multiple pages at once?
    – Joey
    Aug 23 '09 at 10:44

Every scanner I've used has an option to scan directly into a PDF - both the home-sized ones, and the larger, workgroup/enterprise multifunction devices.

  • The scanner software, I assume?
    – Arjan
    Aug 23 '09 at 15:20
  • yes - sorry to not make that clear :) though the scanner itself (in the case of workgroup scanners) has the option on the scan screen on the device itself
    – warren
    Aug 23 '09 at 15:30

You can try ChronoScan, it's a very impressive scanning solution, it has free OCR through tesseract/Cuneiform, and generate Searchable PDF text by default, it's a version free for non-commercial use.

The software is in and advanced development stage, and you have a forum to talk directly with the developers.

ChronoScan Site


VueScan is an easy-to-use replacement for the software that came with your scanner and supports most flatbed scanners, printer/scanners and film scanners.

VueScan can output scanned documents, photos, and film in PDF, JPEG and TIFF formats. It can also recognize text using OCR and create multi-page pdfs using both flatbed scanners and scanners with automatic document feeders.

More info:



Here's a recent Free (GPL) solution (as of 2015):

NAPS2 (Not Another PDF Scanner 2)

NAPS2 is a document scanning application with a focus on simplicity and ease of use. Scan your documents from WIA- and TWAIN-compatible scanners, organize the pages as you like, and save them as PDF, TIFF, JPEG, PNG, and other file formats. Requires .NET Framework 4.0 or higher. NAPS2 is currently available in 14 different languages.

This is a fork of the NAPS project with many bug fixes and other improvements


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