How to Find a Saved Scanned Document

By Amanda Knaebel

Updated August 24, 2017

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Your scanned files can show up in different places depending upon what brand of scanner you use since each brand uses its own proprietary software to process and save your scans. Even if you can't locate your file though, Windows, macOS, older versions of OS X and Linux all offer ways to find any type of file, including your scanned documents.

Finding Your Documents on a Windows PC

Most scanners connected to Windows PCs save scanned documents in either the My Documents or My Scans folder by default. On Windows 10, you may find the files in the Pictures folder, especially if you saved them as images, such as JPEG or PNG. If you don’t see your document in any of those folders, you can search your entire hard drive for it.

When searching in Windows, start typing the name of your document. Another good way to narrow down your search for a saved scan is to look only for documents of a certain file type. Most scanners save scanned documents as PDF files by default, though some might save them as JPEG image files or even as standard document file types. Document files typically end in .doc, .docx or .rtf on Windows machines. Search for a specific file type by putting an asterisk before the file extension to act as a wildcard character, such as .pdf, .doc, .docx, .jpg or *.jpeg.

In Windows 10, click in the search bar to the right of the Start icon in the taskbar and begin typing to search through your files.

In Windows 8, move your mouse to the upper right corner of the screen and swipe down, then click on “Search” and enter your file information in the search box that appears.

If you’re using Windows 7, click the Start icon and begin typing in the search box that appears at the bottom of the Start menu. If you don’t see your file in the list that begins populating as you type, click on the “See more results” link to open a separate search window that shows any files that match what you typed.

Finding Your Documents on a Mac

Mac users can use Finder or Spotlight to locate scanned documents. To open Finder, click on the blue smiley face icon in your dock. Click on “All My Files” on the left in the Finder window and enter your search criteria, such as the file name or file extension in the search bar at the upper right of the Finder window.

Spotlight is another way you can search for a scan if you’re using a Mac. To use Spotlight, simply click on the magnifying glass icon in the upper right corner of the menu bar and begin typing your search terms. Scanned files commonly end in .pdf and .jpeg or you may see .pages as a file extension for a document. Spotlight offers suggestions as you type to help you find files quickly.

Tips and Tricks

If you didn’t see a “Save As” prompt appear when you initially created your scan, your scanner might have given your document a default name. For many scanners, this includes the date as a sequence of numbers at the beginning of the file name. When you begin searching, try starting with the four-digit numerical year to see any documents that contain those numbers.