In OS X Mountain Lion, is there an easy and fast way to scan to PDF, with multiple pages per PDF?

I know this can be achieved with Image Capture, but in my opinion that is just a terrible application. For my purpose (quickly scanning handouts), it is very slow and painful. (Overview scan, then select the part of the page I want, even though I always want the full page, restart it every time I want a new PDF, etc.) It seems to me that it was designed mostly for scanning things like photos, as it really does a terrible job for documents.

I'm open to using a 3rd party app - for example, Linux has the remarkably good and simple Simple Scan app, which would be perfect for my purpose.

  • A general question is just fine, but I'm curious of the model scanner you use. Most have buttons to send a trigger and perhaps we can build on that...
    – bmike
    Jan 11, 2013 at 19:42
  • 1
    @bmike: It's an Epson Perfection V30. It does have a button for scanning to PDF; however, all the button does is open up Image Capture. (In Windows, with the Epson driver installed, it does scan to PDF though, but you need their software which is not available for Mac AFAIK)
    – houbysoft
    Jan 11, 2013 at 22:13

5 Answers 5


I use Image Capture for exactly that purpose

  • The overview scan can be avoided by setting Image Capture to always scan the full page (A4 or Letter) and to not do object detection
  • If you scan multiple documents they get written into distinct PDF files (which actually just get numbered)

For more specific needs there's also the option to create an Automator Workflow for Image Capture.

  • overview scan: that's weird. I always had that off, but I still get an overview scan at every launch of the app. multiple docs: what I want is the ability to scan multiple pages into a single PDF, but also have a simple way of starting a new PDF (AFAIK, to achieve that in Image Capture, I have to quit & reopen).
    – houbysoft
    Sep 26, 2012 at 6:20
  • Just tested the Overview Scan thing, and yea for me it does it every start. Here is how it's setup : i.imgur.com/ObGt6.png
    – houbysoft
    Sep 26, 2012 at 6:23
  • Agreed, it does the Overview once when you start it up. I usually have it open all the time so it doesn't matter so much.
    – nohillside
    Sep 26, 2012 at 6:53

PDFPen is a well-regarded app for doing various PDF related tasks on OS X, and it includes the ability to scan in documents directly. There's a free trial available, so try it out and see if it does what you need.


http://www.pdfscannerapp.com might be useful, although it's a paid app, and I haven't used it for scanning so I can't comment on that.

  • I have used it and it's great.
    – yanokwa
    Jan 12, 2013 at 0:27


I was appalled at the lack of something like simple-scan for linux (no lengthy preview scan for each page, scan multiple pages into one document, scan directly to PDF, no frills, fast scanning), so I wrote one: BcScan.

BcScan is free and distributed under the GPL licence as a bonus.

  • 1
    Great stuff! This is such a slick solution.
    – JannieT
    Jun 14, 2014 at 9:41
  • Thank you very much, @JannieT! I was hoping it would be useful to others.
    – cmc
    Jun 15, 2014 at 15:54

Hamrick VueScan is affordable, at $40 for the basic version. You can download a free trial. It is very feature-rich and detailed, but it has a "simple" mode where most of the advanced options are hidden when you just want a quick scan.

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