How to Convert Scanned Documents to PDF Files

By Mara Shannon

i Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

Converting scanned documents to PDF makes them easier to read; you can scroll through the document rather than opening each image file separately. You can convert images to PDF with special scan-to-PDF software or simply with the Photo Printing Wizard on Windows computers. Keep in mind that, while converting scanned documents to PDF preserves the look and formatting of the original, it does not allow you to search or copy text. For this, you will need OCR (optical character recognition) software.

Convert Scans or JPEG Images to PDF

Step 1

Download and open STP (Scan to PDF), a free software to convert scans and JPEG image files to PDF. (There are also several fairly expensive programs used for this purpose, including Adobe Acrobat.)

Step 2

Scan your document using STP, or convert previously scanned images to JPEG format. You can do this by opening the pictures in any photo editing software, going to "File->Save As," and changing the file format to ".jpg" in the drop-down menu.

Step 3

Click "Make PDF" to create a PDF from your scanned pictures, or click "JPEG(s) to PDF" and browse and select the pages of your document, in order, for previously scanned images. You can adjust the quality of the image to PDF conversion by sliding the marker under "JPEG Quality" to the left and right.

Convert Previously Scanned Images to PDF

Step 1

Download and install a free print to PDF program, such as PrimoPDF. This will allow you to print images to PDF without having to convert all of your scans to JPEG format first.

Step 2

Move all the pages of your scanned document to a specific folder. Make sure that the file names are in order; for example, page one is named "001.PNG," page two, "002.PNG," and so on. This will ensure that the pages are in order when you print your document.

Step 3

Right click on the first picture in the folder and select "Print" to bring up the Photo Printing Wizard. Click "Next." Select all the pictures in the folder, then click "Next" again.

Step 4

Select "Full Page Fax Print (Centered and Rotated)" so that your text does not get distorted; click "Next."

Step 5

Under "Printer," select "PrimoPDF," then click "Next" and finally "Finish."

Step 6

Change the file name and destination folder by clicking "..." on the PrimoPDF window that pops up. Make sure that the format is set to "ebook" or PrimoPDF will not create a PDF with multiple pages. Click "OK" to save your file as a PDF.