Section 6.4. Using Windows Scanner and Camera Wizard

6.4. Using Windows Scanner and Camera Wizard

A scanner is simply an enormous digital camera that points in a fixed direction: up. And just like a camera, your scanner comes with scads of settings that most folks live a long and happy life without ever adjusting. That's where Windows XP's built-in Scanner and Camera Wizard comes in. It's your ticket to a remarkably pain-free scanning experience. Follow these steps for quick, almost decision-free scanning.

  1. Clean your scanner's surface, and place the item you want to scan in the upper-right corner of the scanning bed .

    Before scanning, always wipe the scanner's glass bed with a clean, lint-free cloth. Add a little rubbing alcohol to the cloth for the really nasty goo spots. You want to remove every dust speck before those fibers end up magnified 200 times on your scanned image. Place your image in the corner for one simple reason. Doing so squares the edges, so the image sits nice and straight in the scanned image you create.

  2. Turn on your scanner, choose the Scanner and Camera Wizard (if necessary), and then click Next at the Welcome screen .

    As soon as you turn on your scanner or plug it into your computer, the wizard appears with a greeting. When you click Next, the wizard lists all the programs on your PC capable of handling scans (Figure 6-2); your first decision is choosing the program you want to handle the job. For the quickest and easiest scanning, choose Windows XP's built-in Scanner and Camera Wizard, the same sorcerer who conjures pictures out of your digital camera.

    Don't see the wizard? You can summon it manually with a double-click the scanner's icon in My Computer. Don't see the scanner's icon? Then you're probably limited to the software that came with the scanner, described in the "Installing a Scanner" section (Section 6.2).

    Figure 6-2. Turn on your scanner, and Windows XP lists all the software on your PC capable of handling scans. Choose the Scanner and Camera Wizard for creating quick scans and saving them as files on your hard drive. If you select a graphics program like Photoshop, the wizard routes the scan into the software, letting you touch it up before saving it. That saves time when scanning old photographs, for instance, where you may need to repair tears and scratches.
  3. Choose Custom .

    In an attempt to simplify matters, the wizard offers you four choices, shown in the top of Figure 6-3, each tailored to match the image you're scanning: color photo, black and white photo, or text, each explained in step 5.

    However, those choices don't take account what you'll be doing with your image. For instance, if you choose "Color picture," the wizard scans the photo in at a resolution of 150 dots per inch (dpi)twice the size you need when sending through email. (See Section 6.2 for a quick primer on resolution.) For best results, skip the wizard's preset options and tailor your scans by choosing Custom.

    Figure 6-3. Top: Although the first three preset options sound tempting, they're too basic. For instance, choosing "Color picture" makes the scan too large to email, but too small to reprint later. For better results, choose the setting called Custom.
    Bottom: When you click Custom, this Properties box lets you choose a resolution suitable for whatever you intend to do with your scanned image. The Resolution's menu lists all the resolutions your scanner can handle, usually 50 to 2400 dpi or more, but you rarely want anything more than 300. As a general rule of thumb, choose 75 dpi for items you're going to email, 150 when using your scanner as a copy machine, and 300 for photos you want to print out. Select the "Picture type" to match what you're scanning, and leave the Brightness and Contrast controls set to 0; you can adjust these settings much more effectively using imageediting software like Photoshop Elements. If you don't have an image-editing program, the best thing to do is play with these controls using the trial and error method; your changes aren't fixed until you click OK.
  4. Choose the Resolution setting for your scan .

    The wizard lets you choose any resolution your scanner offers. Resolution, measured in dots per inch (dpi), controls the amount of detail shown on your image, as well as its size. You want high resolution for printouts, for instance, but low resolution for items meant to be seen onscreen (email, for instance). If you're feeling overwhelmed by the resolution options, use this table for guidance:

    Table 6-1.

    Scanned Item or Destination

    Its Resolution

    Onscreen (images sent by email or posted on a Web site)

    75 dpi

    Miscellaneous letters , receipts, and text (for archiving)

    150 dpi

    Line drawings (for faxing or printing)

    200 dpi

    Photos (for printing), or an article (to be converted to text with an OCR program; [see Section 6.4])

    300 dpi

    Scan only at resolutions higher than 300 dpi when you want to enlarge something tinya postage stamp, for instanceto view minute details.

  5. Choose the type of picture you're scanning .

    The choices listed in the "Picture type" drop-down menu let your scanner know how many colors to grabthere's no sense making a color scan of Doonesbury unless it's from Sunday's paper, for instance. Limiting the colors is an easy way to keep the file size manageable. Choose your image from one of these options:

    • Color picture . The natural choice for color scans. Selecting this option takes a color snapshot of anything you place on the scanner's bed.

    • Grayscale picture . When scanning a black and white photograph or a newspaper clipping, choose this option. Doing so means your scan will preserve up to 256 shades of gray , which is what most people consider to be "black and white."

    • Black and white picture or text . Don't choose this for black and white photos, since the wizard narrows down the colors to either "black" or "white," thereby turning Dalmatians into groups of small black spots. Choose this option only when scanning line drawings, text, diagrams, flowcharts, and other monotone items.

    Tip: Choose "Black and white picture or text" when scanning in your signature. A scanned signature comes in handy for signing digital forms, like a rebate form downloaded from the Internet. Use Paint (Start All Programs Accessories Paint) or other graphics software to paste your digital signature onto the Signature Here line of any form.

    Back in the Scanner and Camera Wizard main window, click the Preview button, "lasso" your image (if necessary), and then click Next .

    Don't skip this important step: clicking the Preview button tells the scanner to make a quick scan, locate your image's position, and "lasso" itoutline the image's edges with a little square. By locating the image, the scanner then knows to scan only that portion of its bed. If you skip the preview, the scanner simply scans its entire bed, creating a huge file with your image floating somewhere inside.

    The wizard's usually pretty good with its lasso, but if it's a little off target, drag inward or outward on the lasso's little corner squares, as shown in Figure 6-4, until it completely surrounds your image.

    Figure 6-4. When you click the Preview button, the scanner locates where you placed your item on the scanner's bed. The dotted outline indicates movable borders. The wizard generally identifies the perimeter of your item fairly accurately, but often leaves out the white border around printed photographs. If you want your scan to include the border, drag the corner squares out a bit. Similarly, when scanning a page to fax, the wizard sometimes lassos only the outlines of the text. To scan the entire page, drag the corner squares out until they reach the page's edge.
  6. Choose a file format that matches your scan's contents .

    The "Picture Name and Destination" dialog box, shown in Figure 6-5, also appears when you retrieve photos from a digital camera (Section 5.2), but with one major exception: the scanner lets you choose the format it uses to save your file. Here are your options.

    • BMP (Bitmap image) . Avoid this one, as it creates files large enough to store blimps. Nevertheless, graphics programs always offer it because BMP's been around for years , and nobody collects patent fees on the format.

    • JPG (JPEG image) . The best choice for photographs. JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group ) compresses photos by removing subtle nuances imperceptible to most mortal eyes.

    • TIF (TIF image) . Choose TIF (Tagged Image File Format) when you can't afford to lose any qualitywhen creating archives of family photos, for instance, or sending images to a print shop. The images are substantially larger than JPGs, but sometimes quality's more important than saving on storage space.

    • PNG (PNG image) . This works best for color images with smooth, defined edgeslogos, for instance, color charts , or line drawings. Most Internet browsers support PNG (Portable Network Graphics), which is slowly replacing the old standard, GIF (Graphics Interchange Format).

    Figure 6-5. Choose JPG for photos and nearly all other scans. Although the wizard doesn't let you choose an image's compression level, most graphics software does. Open an image in Paint Shop Pro, for instance, and you can watch the file as you compress it, stopping the compression when you notice the image quality drop.
  7. Choose a descriptive name for your scan, select a folder in which to store it, and then click Next .

    After choosing the file format, enter a descriptive name (in the "Type a name for this group of pictures" box) and select a storage folder for your scan. The wizard creates a folder with that name inside your My Pictures folder, and tosses in your scan using that same name. (Alternatively, you can click the Browse button if you want to select a folder on your PC that already exists.)

  8. Choose Nothing to exit the wizard .

    The wizard offers the same three choices as when you use it to transport digital photos to your PC (Section 5.2). None really belong herefew people would order prints of something after they've just scanned the print version, for instanceso choose Nothing. The wizard closes , dropping you off in the folder that holds your newly created scanned image file.

Once your document's turned into a file, you can email it as an attachment (Section 5.5), fax it (described in the online appendix, "Other Cool Things You Can Do Online," available on the "Missing CD" page at, or print it (Section 4.7).

Scanning Money

Think the record industry's worried about unauthorized copies? The United States Treasury Department's even more worried, and it has much more clout. In fact, the Feds talked major hardware and software companies into adding security measures that notice the distinctive watermarks embedded in their banknotes. Try scanning a Ben Franklin in Adobe PhotoShop Creative Suite Version 8 and above, for instance, and this message appears: "This application does not support the unauthorized processing of banknote images."

The message appears even if you stick to the Treasury Department's rules for legally reproducing currency ( by enlarging or reducing the image by certain proportions .

If you need scanned copies of cash for legitimate reasonsinserting giant dollar bills in advertising or promotional items, scanning rare currency for a Web site, or even using currency in artworkyou have two choices:

  • Use pre-2003 technology . Old scanners and software can still scan your cash.

  • Visit Rules For Use ( . This site lists contact information for treasury departments worldwide. Needless to say, contacting the appropriate department and waiting for your sample bills to arrive will probably extend your printing deadline by a few weeks.

PCs: The Missing Manual
ISBN: 0596100930
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 206
Authors: Andy Rathbone

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