Genealogy in Your Pocket – The Mobile Scanner

What do you do with a 300-page family history that was “written” on a typewriter and “published” in a copy center? You pull out your trusty iPhone with Evernote’s Scannable app [iOS – free] and get to work scanning it into Evernote.

scanned document
A typewritten document scanned with Scannable into Evernote.

The result is a scanned document that is now searchable within Evernote. In this example, I’ve used Scannable to scan my Link family history. As you can see here, many of the image pages leave a bit to be desired but Evernote is still able to search it for specific words and phrases.

Searching within PDF documents requires an Evernote Premium account ($50/year). That may seem like a lot, but my Link family history is just one of many examples that have made it worth every penny to me. This 300-page family history cost me $60. There was no index and the table of contents left much to be desired. It’s full of wonderful information but finding details was a time-consuming challenge.

I scanned the document on my dining room buffet. It has a lamp providing good light and a dark surface that gives Scannable the contrasting background needed to define the page to be captured.


I broke the document into sections and scanned each section as a separate PDF. This makes it a lot easier to manage within Evernote. Scannable captured pages as quickly as I could place them in the work area. The quality of pages within the original document were often quite poor and I was concerned that Evernote might not be able to convert the typewriter font to searchable text. I was delighted to see how well Evernote handled it all.

It took most of a rainy afternoon to scan the entire document. The effort has paid for itself numerous times when I needed to find specific information. Evernote’s document search capabilities “delivers” it in seconds.

Now this family treasure is also an impressive research resource.

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