I am using scanimage with a document scanner (Canon DR-2510C) that supports duplex scanning. Unfortunately, its SANE driver does not support blank page detection, so that with mixed pages (single/double-sided), blank pages make it into the scan result.

I would like to automatically get rid of those blank pages when post-processing the scan output, so I am looking for a command-line tool that is able to detect whether a TIFF or PNM file consists of mostly white pixels).

Any ideas?

This is the solution I came up with based on the answer by lesmana:

for i in "${DEST_DIR}/out"*.pnm; do
  histogram=`convert "${i}" -threshold 50% -format %c histogram:info:-`
  white=`echo "${histogram}" | grep "white" | sed -n 's/^ *\(.*\):.*$/\1/p'`
  black=`echo "${histogram}" | grep "black" | sed -n 's/^ *\(.*\):.*$/\1/p'`
  blank=`echo "scale=4; ${black}/${white} < 0.005" | bc`
  if [ ${blank} -eq "1" ]; then
    echo "${i} seems to be blank - removing it..."
    rm "${i}"

7 Answers 7


You can use ImageMagick compare tool to compare the scanned images against a "master" blank page. Since my ImageMagick-fu is quite limited I cannot give you any example command. You will have to RTFM:

The second link even has a section titled "Blank Fax" which explains how to detect blank fax pages. Sadly that section seems unfinished. Hopefully the available information is enough for you to get started.


Use the identify feature of ImageMagik CLI as given here:


With command:

$ identify -format "%#" source.png

If the number of colors is 1, you have a blank page.

You can also use the command:

identify -verbose source.png

The standard deviation, skew and kurtosis will be 0 for a blank image.

  • 4
    %# returns a calculated hash value for the image, it should be %k imho. Jul 27, 2019 at 15:36
  • yes, it should be identify -format "%k" source.png. but one problem is: this is slow. when processing many files, its faster to first check the file size, and only check the color count %k of images with a "suspicious" file size (blank images are usually much smaller than non-blank images). this also requires parsing the image dimensions from identify -format "%wx%h" source.png, to scale the "suspicious" file size, but thats 20x faster than getting the color count
    – milahu
    Aug 19, 2023 at 19:36

Slightly improved version of the code in the question:


mkdir -p "blanks"

for i in "$@"; do
    echo "${i}"
    if [[ -e $(dirname "$i")/.$(basename "$i") ]]; then
        echo "   protected."

    histogram=$(convert "${i}" -threshold 50% -format %c histogram:info:-)
    #echo $histogram
    white=$(echo "${histogram}" | grep "white" | cut -d: -f1)
    black=$(echo "${histogram}" | grep "black" | cut -d: -f1)
    if [[ -z "$black" ]]; then

    blank=$(echo "scale=4; ${black}/${white} < 0.005" | bc)
    #echo $white $black $blank
    if [ "${blank}" -eq "1" ]; then
        echo "${i} seems to be blank - removing it..."
        mv "${i}" "blanks/${i}"


  • Pass the images to check as arguments instead of reading from a fixed location
  • Progress report
  • If the code doesn't detect a file correctly, you can give it a hint (create an empty file with the name of the image plus a dot in front, i.e. to protect a.pnm, use touch .a.pnm)
  • Fixed error when there were no black pixels in the input

%k should be used for the format, as it returns:

CALCULATED: number of unique colors


identify -format "%k" image.tif

Source: https://imagemagick.org/script/escape.php


My trick is to scan the images to a losslessly compressed format (tiff + compression). This way, blank pages have a much lower file size and I can detect them with find, move them to another directory, check them quickly with a viewer and then get rid of them.


You can do a noisy trim with ImageMagick, e.g.:

convert image-0001.png -virtual-pixel White -blur 0x15 -fuzz 15% -trim info:

The page isn't empty if convert prints something like this:

image-0001.png PNG 4565x6129 4960x7016+279+816 8-bit Gray 0.000u 0:00.000

(example input is a 600 dpi DIN A4 scanned lineart image)

It's empty if the height/width after trimming is suspiciously small, e.g.:

image-0001.png PNG 2505x40 4960x7016+0+6976 8-bit Gray 0.000u 0:00.000

In contrast to the threshold histogram method, this produces less false-positives when you have pages that just contain a word or a line of text. With a threshold-histogram, such pages could wrongly be detected as empty.

Looking at the file size of the compressed image, i.e. as an approximation of entropy, yields the same false positives.

On the flip side, documents with perforations but otherwise empty, likely aren't detected as empty with just a noisy trim. If you care about those, it might make sense to tell ImageMagick to unconditionally trim some margin space, first. For example, if the image was scanned with 600 dpi and you want to ignore a 1 inch margin all around:

convert i1.png -shave 600x0 -virtual-pixel White -blur 0x15 -fuzz 15% -trim info:

You can try my "Noora PDF" software project. It has AI inside, and I trained it on some scanned pages with punch holes. Maybe this will work for you: https://www.softpedia.com/get/Office-tools/PDF/Zautin-Simple-PDF-Watermark.shtml It is free, but you can Donate :) Or you can train some AI by yourself. I did it on C# by using MuPDF c++ wrapper to get images from pdf pages. And then I trained ML.NET to recognize blank pages from my scanner.

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