How to scan documents into your favorite aviation app

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
3 min read

More and more pilots are going completely paperless in the cockpit, which requires some paper documents to be scanned first. Fortunately, Apple includes some hidden capabilities in the Notes app, including the addition of a powerful scanner utility. This can be used to scan any physical document or receipt and save or share it using the traditional iOS methods. The scanned images can even be sent to apps that support document viewing, like ForeFlight or FltPlan Go. Here’s how to do it:

1. Open the Notes app (installed by default on all iOS devices—look for the notepad icon)

2. Tap the writing icon in the upper right corner to make a new note

3. Tap either the camera icon and select the Scan Documents option

SHORTCUT: You can also tap and hold on the Notes app icon from the home screen; this will bring up a quick-access menu and one of the options includes Scan Documents. This eliminates the need to open the app and create a new document.

4. The camera will activate, allowing you to take a snapshot of the document. By default, it will be in Auto mode, which automatically scans the document when it senses the document is still on the screen. We’ve found that the manual mode is easier to use since it gives you more time to square up the document before taking the picture. Use the button with three circles to choose color, grayscale or black and white.

5. Make sure the yellow box is lined up with your document, and press the white circle camera button to take the picture.

6. Adjust the edges using the small corner buttons around the document to refine the edges of the scan.

7. Press the Keep Scan button in the bottom right corner. If you’d like to add more pages to the document (to create a multipage PDF for example), scan additional pages using the same steps listed above. When finished, press the Save button in the lower right corner.

8. The scanned document will now be saved in the new note, and you can use the share button in the upper right corner to create a PDF, share it or send it to another app. Select your aviation app’s icon from the top row (ForeFlight, Garmin Pilot, FltPlan Go, WingX, FlyQ, etc.) to send it right to the Documents section of the respective app, where it’ll be stored with your other aviation resources.

If you don’t see your app at first in the top row, scroll all the way to the right and tap the More button to view the full list of compatible apps installed on your iPad.


Your iPad will automatically switch to the selected app, where you’ll see the scanned document has been saved for offline reference:

We’ve used the Notes scanner for all kinds of things: checklists, pilot’s operating handbook pages, avionics supplements, non-aviation maps, insurance information, fly-in procedures, and even restaurant menus. Once you get the hang of it, the process is fast and reliable—and the document will be easily accessible in your favorite app so it’s easy to find.

8 replies
  1. Joe Brown
    Joe Brown says:

    I tried this but I do not see foreflight in the apps to save to. It took a lot of scrolling to finally find fore flight. Is there some way to have ForeFlight show in the first screen of save to?

    • Jeff S
      Jeff S says:

      I tried it and had the same problem, but I think I found the solution. You cannot save the NOTE to ForeFlight, but you can save the SCAN to ForeFlight. In the new NOTE that you just made, click on the SCAN that you just made, and then try to send that to ForeFlight.

  2. John Green
    John Green says:

    I’m running a 6th get iPad mini w/ iOS 16.6 and I can’t figure out how to add Foreflight to the send to list.

  3. Paul c
    Paul c says:

    Not sure why it really needs to be this complicated. Just snap a pic, put it in photos, organize folders in photos as needed or save the photos in FF

    ‘Scanning’ is a left over term from the early digital era well where we would literally use a paper scanner to auto feed paper documents into a machine that then digitized that document/picture.
    With modern phones having cameras built in, there is no need to actually ‘scan’ any longer, ‘scanning is now just a marketing term used to sell apps you don’t really need. True document scanning and OCR (optical character recognition) is not needed for simply pulling in your favorite chart, plate, or key pages of the poh. I take a pic of the graphs in the poh for whatever I’m flying and as a bonus, can use the editing tools already on the iOS device to work out the ground roll, climb, etc and never have to deal with paper again.
    Scanning is really for document editing where as most anyone with a phone or iPad or android can simply take a pic of the documents they need and with or without FF, have them handy, using cloud sharing, on any of your digital devices, even your laptop.
    Have fun!

    • James Broome
      James Broome says:

      Thanks, Paul, for sharing in detail. It educates pilots like me who struggle with technology (which seems to come so easily for the youth of the nation).

  4. James Broome
    James Broome says:

    At 65, I need all the help I can get with anything tech/IT/app-related, or iPad. This site and its info are a HUGE BLESSING. Thanks for creating it; keep it coming!

Comments are closed.