Printers let you move work from your monitor to paper. But when you need to move things in the other direction—from the printed page to your monitor—nothing beats a scanner. Scanners once lived only on the desktops of graphics professionals; today, they’re so inexpensive that they’re just as affordable as a printer. For a growing crowd of consumers, they’ve also become just as indispensable.
And scanners come with one advantage that almost all other PC accessories lack: no lingering costs. Scanners don’t require periodic refreshing of paper, ink, batteries, or memory cards. They’re especially handy for people without digital cameras; a $75 scanner lets them email their photos to friends, just like the hip crowd does with their $200 digital cameras.
Scanners also provide the missing link for your modem’s built-in fax, letting you fax printed letters and forms. (For tips on using your fax, check out the online appendix, “Other Cool Things You Can Do Online,” available on the “Missing CD” page at http://www.missingmanuals.com.) Plus, scanners turn your PC into a make-shift copy machine: scan an item, and then send it to your printer for quick copies.
This chapter explains how to choose a scanner, set it up, and scan color and black and white photos, as well as line drawings, receipts, and pretty much anything else that fits on a scanner’s bed.
You’ll find these three types of scanners on the shelves at most office supply and computer stores.