How to scan a document and email it with the iPhone Mail app

The Mail app was recently updated on the iPhone and it is now easier than ever to scan a document and email it or to attach a document from cloud storage to an email. Get to know the new Mail.

It has always been possible to attach photos and files to an email in the Mail app on the iPhone and iPad. If you wanted to send someone a printed document, you could take a photo with the camera and attach it to a message.

A scanned document is not a photo though. One way that it differs is that a photo contains a distracting background, whereas a scan of a document contains just the document. You could take a photo of the document on a plain background, but it still is not as good as a proper scan. Also, You often don’t need a scanned document to be in color and black and white is ok, sometimes it is easier to read in mono rather than color.

This makes a scan function more useful than the ability to attach a photo to an email in certain circumstances. It is a feature that is aimed more at business communications than fun messages between friends and if you use your iPhone for work email, you will find scanning very useful.

When a work colleague or customer asks for a copy of a document, you don’t need to take a photo, you can create an email, scan and insert the image into the message and simply send it. There is no need to fiddle around with third party scanning apps or photo libraries. Just scan and send.

Let’s take a look at how this works. You need at least iOS 13 running on an iPhone or iPad to make use of the feature.

1 Insert a scan into an email

Mail app on the iPhone showing the toolbar functions

Create a new email message in the Mail app on the iPhone. If you want to scan a document and insert it into the message, either tap the Scan button just above the keybard or tap in the document to show the toolbar, go all the way to the right and press Scan Document.

2 Take a photo

Scan a documents in the Mail app on the iPhone

The iPhone’s camera is activated and you just point it at the document. It actively looks for a rectangular piece of paper, a receipt in the screenshot, and it is automatically highlighted. It probably helps if the document is mainly white and is on a contrasting background.

Scan a document in iOS Mail

There are a few options at the top of the screen and tapping the color button enables you to choose between color, greyscale, black and white or photo.

3 Crop the scan

Crop a scanned document in the Mail app on the iPhone

Tap the button to take a scan and the whole image is displayed with a box drawn around where it thinks the document is located. Drag the corners of the box to select the area of the image to save as a scan.

Sometimes you don’t need the whole document, so this can be used to choose just a small section. It also helps if it has not quite detected the size and shape of the document correctly and you can adjust it. It also straightens the scan if it is not quite vertical.

Press Retake if it is not what you want, or Keep Scan to accept it.

4 Send the email

An email on the iPhone with a scanned document inserted

Here is the scan inserted into the email and as you can see, it is much better than a simple photo. There is no background and it has been straightened.

You can add text to the email or even add another scan if you need to. Press the blue Send button in the top right corner if you are ready to email it.

5 Attach a document to an email

Insert a document into an email in the Mail app on the iPhone

There is a new icon just above the keyboard in the Mail app and a new toolbar item. Tap the icon or tap in the message, tap the right arrow until you see Add Document. Let’s attach a document to this email before we send it.

6 Select a recent document

Selecting a document to add to an email in the Mail app on the iPhone

The Mail app helpfully shows a list of recent documents that have been added to your personal iCloud storage. If you see the document you want to attach, tap it, but if it is not there, press See All.

7 Select a document to email

Select an iCloud document in the iPhone Mail app

All the folders in your personal iCloud storage are displayed in a file browser and it is similar to the Files app on the iPhone. Just tap a folder to open it, such as Pages, and then tap the document you want to send via email.

8 Send the document

A document being sent via email in the Mail app on the iPhone

Here a Pages document has been inserted into the email and it is ready to send with the blue button at the top. It does not have to be a Pages document and it could be another type of file on iCloud, like a Word document, Numbers or Excel spreadsheet, and so on.

What is useful about this feature is that iCloud storage is synced with an Apple Mac (and Windows PC if you have iCloud installed) and so it is easy to create documents on the Mac and then if you need to email them to someone when you are out of the office or home, you can easily select and attach them to an email on your iPhone. You don’t need to wait until you get back to the office or home to send them.

It does not matter where you are, you can email documents from your phone.