Did you just get an iPad to use for sheet music? You should learn how to scan documents on an iPad quickly and efficiently.
That way, you can continue to work on all of your standard pieces and excerpts, but you don’t have to carry the print copies around.
Before we get into the tips, this post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy to learn more.
Download a Scanner App
The first step in how to scan documents on an iPad is to download a scanner app. I use Tiny Scanner, and it’s worked well for me over the past few years. But it does cost a bit of money.
I’ve heard that you can use the forScore app to scan music. So if you already have that, it could be a good option.
You can also use the standard Apple camera to scan documents. But what I like about Tiny Scanner is the ability to crop the document how you like. Plus, you can store documents in the app to have as a backup.
Gather Your Print Music
Next, you’ll want to collect all of the print music you want to scan. If you have a lot of music, I’d recommend scanning a few pieces at a time. When I first switched to using an iPad, it took many sessions across multiple weeks to scan everything.
And I still haven’t scanned all of the music I own. Instead, I prioritized the music I was working on at the time. Then, as I got new music, I’d scan the music as I started working on it.
For now, you can also scan things like etude books or other materials you reference regularly. Then, you don’t have to carry around a thick book of music just to practice a page or two each time.
Find a Good Location
Before you start to scan documents on an iPad, you need to choose the right place to do it. That way, you can make sure the scan is of the best quality so that the music will be easy to read.
Here are a few things I’d recommend looking for in a scanning location.
First, I’d make sure you have a blank spot to use as the background. After all, you’re taking pictures of your music. If the background is too crazy, it can be hard for the app you use to crop the page.
Sure, you can adjust the cropping, but a wild background can also make that hard for you to do. I like to use the plain white background of my desk, but you can also use a black table or any solid color.
That way, it will be easier for you to differentiate between what’s part of the page and what’s part of the background.
Plenty of Light
Next, you’ll want to make sure you have a good light source. Lighting makes a huge difference with any photo, and document scans are no different.
Ideally, you’d have some natural light. But if you have a good amount of artificial light, that can work well, too.
When possible, try to avoid direct overhead lighting. That can cause shadows which don’t always show up, but you do’t want to risk it.
Easy to Move Around
You should also choose a location with plenty of space for you to move around. That way, you can take the picture using the best possible angle.
If you use a desk, like I do, move your desk chair out of the way. You can also clear the surface of other things that could get in the way.
How to Scan Documents on an iPad With Tiny Scanner
If you decide to download the Tiny Scanner app, you can follow some steps to get your sheet music in digital form. Other apps may work similarly, so you can still use these steps for other methods.
Lay the Document Flat
Take the first piece of music you want to scan and open it to the first page. Lay it as flat as you can. You might need to fold a page back, especially if it’s from a thicker book.
The flatter you can get it, the cleaner the scan will be. You won’t have to worry about awkward curves appearing in the scan.
Take a Photo of Each Page
Now, you can open the Tiny Scanner app and hit the + button. That will prompt you to take a picture of your sheet music. I’d recommend using the batch option so that you can capture all of the pages before processing the scan.
Of course, you’ll want to move your music and flip the pages between each photo. That way, you can scan all of the pages in the piece.
Fix the Cropping
After you scan all of the pages for the piece in question, you can continue to the next step. This will show you how the app cropped the page. You can drag and drop the corners to the right spots if the crop isn’t quite right.
In many cases, the app does a good job of cropping. But I sometimes need to adjust it, so take your time with this.
Review the Document
Next, you can review how all of the pages look in the document. You can rename the document as well, which defaults to the date and time as the name.
At this point, you can scan any pages that look wrong or that you missed when scanning or cropping. Then, you can adjust the order so that every page is where it’s supposed to be.
Export PDFs to Other Apps
Now, you can go back to the main page of Tiny Scanner. Find the piece you want to export and tap on the three dots. Look for the “Open in…” option, and tap on that.
Then, you can scroll until you find your sheet music reader of choice. I use forScore and love it. But you can also use IMSLP (even for scanned documents), Newzik, or other apps.
Why Scan Documents to Your iPad
Maybe you’re wondering why you should learn how to scan documents on an iPad. Consider the following advantages of knowing these steps.
Access More Digital Files
You can buy a lot of sheet music digitally these days. However, a lot of us have plenty of print music in our libraries. If you don’t want to switch between digital and print copies, you can scan your print music.
Then, you can have all of your music on your device so that it’s easy to access. This is nice if you tend to practice or teach in different places. You don’t have to worry about leaving a piece of music at home or at school.
Even if you don’t use an iPad for sheet music that much, I’d still recommend scanning documents to your tablet. You never know when you may lose a print copy or when it could get damaged.
If you have a digital copy, you can print off the pages you need. Then, you can still access that music. Plus, you can keep a clean copy, which is nice if you like making a ton of marks but don’t always want to play with them.
Reduce Space and Weight
Another excellent reason to scan documents to your iPad is to reduce the space and weight that music takes up. If you have a lot of music, your bag or backpack could weigh a lot.
You also won’t have space for much else, including your instrument. So you can take back some of that space and weight by using an iPad. It takes up a lot less room than print music and weighs much less.
How Long Does It Take to Scan Sheet Music to an iPad?
It takes a few minutes to scan a short piece of music to an iPad. However, scanning longer works or full method books takes much more time.
When I was scanning the Moyse book on tone development, I spread out the scanning over a few days. That way, I could scan a few pages at a time and not overwhelm myself.
Will You Scan Documents to Your iPad?
Learning how to scan documents on an iPad is essential if you want to go digital with your sheet music. Luckily, the process is not too difficult.
However, it can be tedious, so you may want to focus on buying digital files in the future. If so, I have a growing library of flute arrangements for sale!