Keeping track of your many receipts is tedious work—especially when you have other pressing concerns on your mind. Want to know your options? Here are 4 popular methods that will help you scan receipts and keep track of relevant data for tax season.
Method #1. How to scan receipts with a receipt scanner app
One method for scanning receipts is using a specialized receipt scanning app that takes care of organizing all your data for you. Here’s a step-by-step on how to use receipt scanner apps for scanning paper receipts.
Step 1: Choose a receipt scanner app.
Download a receipt scanning app from the App Store or Google Play. Check out this list of the many different receipt scanning apps available.
Step 2: Make an account with the receipt scanner app of your choice.
Open the receipt scanning application, and sign up with your personal information, email address, and create a secure password so that you can protect your data and documents.
Take note: Some scanner apps have a free version—others don’t.
Once you’ve created your account, you’ll be ready to scan your receipts.
Step 3: Take a picture of your receipt using the scanning app.
Most apps use your mobile device’s camera to capture the image and can handle multiple angles of the receipt. The app should automatically detect the edges of the receipt and adjust accordingly. Once the image has been captured, the app will then recognize any handwritten text or printed information.
Step 4: Organize your receipt data.
After the receipt has been scanned—depending on the type of app you are using—assign tags or labels to each receipt to help you sort and locate your expenses.
Ideal for: On-the-go receipt scanning, frequent travelers, business owners who accrue expenses while out on a business trip
Total time involved: 2 minutes per receipt
Method #2. How to scan receipts with a document scanner
A popular way to scan receipts is by using a document scanner—either a flatbed or sheetfed type. The following are the steps for scanning receipts with a document scanner.
Step 1: Choose the right document scanner.
Here’s a list of the top document scanners for small business owners. There are many types of scanners you can consider, including scanners that can handle two sided documents, etc.
Step 2: Set up the scanner.
Power up the scanner and install any software that has come with the document scanner.
Step 3: Prepare your documents for scanning.
Before you start, double check that your receipts are as flat as possible. Then place each receipt face-down on the scanner bed.
Step 4: Begin the scanning process.
Some document scanners include auto-feed of multiple pages. However, receipts will likely need to be scanned one at a time.
Step 5: View and save your scans.
After the scanning process is complete, check the image quality of all scans to ensure they’re legible.
Ideal for: business owners who work at their desks; business owners with a high volume of paper documents that need scanning
Total time involved: 3-5 minutes per receipt
Method #3. How to scan receipts with your phone’s camera
The cheapest and most accessible way to scan receipts is to use a smartphone’s camera. This is an entirely free option. However, keep in mind you will need to extract the receipt line data yourself.
Step 1. Take a photo of the receipt with the camera on your mobile device.
Make sure to keep the receipt flat and try to avoid shadows on the receipt.
Step 2. Use your phone’s built-in image editor.
Crop and adjust the scanned receipt so that it is cropped tightly around the main content of the receipt.
Step 3. Send and save.
You can email the receipt image to your email inbox or use your iCloud account to download your scanned receipts.
Step 4. Extract receipt data from the image.
Use an OCR program to convert the text on the receipt image into editable text.
Step 5. Save receipt line items to your accounting software.
Save the receipt information in a spreadsheet or other format that is easy to access and manage.
Ideal for: individuals who want an entirely free option for scanning receipts
Total time involved: 2-3 minutes per receipt
Method #4. How to scan receipts with a receipt scanning service
The only way to quickly scan receipts without doing any tedious scanning is to signup to a scanning service like Shoeboxed.
With the Shoeboxed app, you can outsource your receipt scanning and get a team of data entry specialists to help you digitize receipts and other documents—so you can stay on top of your business expenses.
Shoeboxed was named by Hubspot as best receipt scanner app for tax season and has also won various awards by Crozdesk for vendor and service quality. With Shoeboxed, you can create your expense management reports, track mileage, sort business contacts, and more with their receipt scanner software.
Step 1: Sign up for the receipt scanning service.
Choose a Shoeboxed plan that best meets your needs.
Step 2: Send in your receipts for scanning.
Ship your receipts to Shoeboxed’s receipt processing center using their postage pre-paid Magic Envelopes. Shoeboxed’s receipt scanning software will OCR extract all important information such as merchant name, date of purchase, amount spent, etc., then human verify all the extracted data. Additionally, expenses are sorted into 1 of 15 common tax categories—simplifying tax time.
Step 3: Log in to your account and view your receipt data.
Your Shoeboxed account includes cloud storage for easy access to digital files at any time from anywhere.
Ideal for: business owners who want to outsource manual receipt data entry
Total time involved: the time it takes to stuff receipts into a Magic Envelope!
Frequently asked questions
1. Shoeboxed: Best receipt scanner app and receipt scanning service for small business owners
2. Expensify: Best expense tracking app for travelers
3. Neat: Best receipt scanner app for bookkeeping
4. WellyBox: Best web-centric receipt tracking platform
5. Dext Prepare: Best for businesses needing robust receipt tracking capability
1. Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1600: Best document scanner for small businesses
2. Canon CanoScan LiDE400 Document Scanner: Best affordable document scanner
3. Raven Pro Document Scanner: Best office document and desktop scanner
4. Brother DS-640 Compact Mobile Document Scanner: Best portable document scanner
5. Visioneer Patriot H60 Duplex Scanner: Best professional business document scanner
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) extracts text from images by using sophisticated software that recognize text elements on an image or scanned document and converts them into machine-readable characters.
Scanning receipts—while initially onerous—will simplify tracking expenses in the long run. By choosing one of these 4 methods, you’ll be able to digitize your receipts and make them accessible from any device or platform, which will save time in the long run.
Tomoko Matsuoka is Shoeboxed’s managing editor, bringing 10+ years of editorial experience to a small team of accounting & bookkeeping research specialists and writers. She covers small business tips, organization hacks, and productivity tools and software.
Shoeboxed is a receipt scanning service with receipt management software that supports multiple methods for receipt capture: send, scan, upload, forward, and more!
You can stuff your receipts into one of our Magic Envelopes (prepaid postage within the US). Use our receipt tracker + receipt scanner app (iPhone, iPad and Android) to snap a picture while on the go. Auto-import receipts from Gmail. Or forward a receipt to your designated Shoeboxed email address.
Turn your receipts into data and deductibles with our expense reports that include IRS-accepted receipt images.
Join over 1 million businesses scanning & organizing receipts, creating expense reports and more—with Shoeboxed.
Try Shoeboxed today!