Time to buy a scanner

I’m using a Canon MG6200 wireless all-in-one for my scanning needs. I works from my MacBook Pro (mid-2012) running Catalina, and my MacMini Server (2010) running High Sierra. Of course, you’ll never find the model, as I have had it for several years, but it points to Canon’s compatibility.

Brother makes excellent printers and all-in-ones that contain scanners. I’ve owned several b&w laser printers that were connected to Macs, and a relative has one of the all-in-ones connected to her iMac and loves it. Brother’s drivers are top notch and it’s plug and play with Macs.

I don’t have experience with scanners that include automated paper feeds, but Brother has several models in the ADS line from $180-$300 or so that can scan a couple of dozen pages at a time up at to 25ppm.

(For flatbed scanning without document feed I’d generally recommend a better model of Canon scanner than the lower-end model the OP has - better and faster scan quality. Epson used to be a direct flatbed competitor to Canon but the market segment has shrunk and Epson doesn’t put much of an effort with new models these days.)

G’day Nick

I use a Brother MFC-L2713DW All-in-one Mono Laser Printer. Works well for me and am happy with it. iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2017) running macOS Mojave.

Cheers, Gobit

I would definitely start by looking at the list of scanners supported by VueScan:


This is important because manufacturers will likely drop software support long before your scanner’s hardware stops working. Once that happens and a macOS update breaks the old software, you’ll need a third-party alternative. VueScan is a great alternative, but it doesn’t support everything.

FWIW, I’m using an old Epson Perfection 4870. Epson’s support is pretty minimal these days, but the SilverFast software I use still has full support.

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I’ve used a Fujitsu iX500 (since replaced in the market by the iX1500, and I can’t really comment intelligently on the newer model). Fujitsu replaced its software for the scanner when Apple went 64-bit only, and it’s not quite as seamless as it once was, but it’s still speedy and quite nicely integrates with Evernote. And, it’s automatic OCR is quite impressive, at least to me. It scans multiple paper sizes, both sides of the page simultaneously.

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I get asked this a lot. I, too, need to have both a flatbed and sheetfeed scanner for work. I discovered that the best/cheapest way to get both is to purchase an all-in-one device. (For the life of me, I don’t know why. You can get an all-in-one for well less than an equivalent stand-alone printer, or stand-alone scanner all by itself.) You can get an all-in-one that includes a laser printer, or one that includes an inkjet printer. The latter will be much cheaper.

If you want a very high performance sheet feed scanner, get a high-end Brother all-in-one laser. It will likely still be way cheaper than a stand-alone sheet feed scanner like a ScanSnap, and include a high performance printer and flatbed scanner.

If you want a reasonably priced, but still good performing sheet feed scanner, get a Canon all-in-one color inkjet.

Since I already had several black and white laser printers, I got a Canon all-in-one color inkjet. Canon Pixma’s have been favorites among Mac users for many years now. Canon does an excellent job of updating drivers for Mac users as necessary, and Mac compatibility is quite good. Canons also resist clogging better than just about any other brand of inkjet.

This is the current favorite in a long line of models that Mac users have preferred:

Canon PIXMA TR8520

As a side benefit, this device will print stunning color prints, and amazing color photos onto glossy photo paper!

One note…I highly recommend that YOU DO NOT purchase a Hewlett-Packard device. Not because their products are bad, but because HP has been by far the worst of the worst when it comes to supporting Mac users. If a new version of the Mac OS is released, and new drivers are required for their devices, they will reliably the THE LAST company that finally offers updated drivers, and often they will simply decide to orphan fairly recent models.


The Brother’s with a doc feeder works great. My wider family has 4 plus multiple business clients. Don’t install any software than comes in the box. Just let the macOS get what it needs from Apple. You can scan from the Preview or Image Capture app into image files or PDFs.

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Yes, but do your homework because some all-in-one devices (especially the inexpensive ones) can skimp on the features.

For instance, the scanner might only support 300 or 600 dpi (the minimum necessary for the copier functions to look good). This might be fine for you, but you might want higher resolution - especially if you want to scan photos or slides/negatives for archival purposes.

I would agree completely, regarding ink-jet printers.

For laser printers, most HPs support PCL and/or PostScript, so macOS will include generic driver support even if HP drops their own driver support.

On Windows, HP has a “universal” driver that supports just about every PCL and PostScript printer they’ve ever made (probably using something like PPD files). I don’t know if they have a Mac version of that, however.

Regarding scanners, again, you may have great third-party support after HP drops their support. But you should check to be sure. VueScan is great and very popular. SilverFast is also great, but tends to limit its support to a small set of high-end scanner devices.


HP doesn’t use genuine Postscript, for most of their laser printers they use a clone. So with a generic driver it is likely that some features won’t work. In any case, why put up with having to use a kludge? Why not just go with a company that consistently provides updated drivers as needed and on time?

And, if you purchase an HP all-in-one, try and find free generic drivers for it’s scanner functions. There is a reason VueScan and ExactScan exist and cost so much.

Not to mention that a number of Mac users I’ve heard from have called HP tech support in-warranty and they have been told that the solution to their problem is to GET A WINDOWS PC! That’s not what a Mac user wants to hear. This doesn’t seem to happen often, but it HAS happened.

So, my recommendation for Mac users to avoid HP products stands. There are better products, at better prices, with better support for Mac users than HP products. Generally I recommend Brother for laser-based products and Canon for inkjet-based products. Though I don’t recommend all of the models in the ranges of either.

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@ Randy Singer. Second that. We have an Epson all in one, an XP-830 for the record. Auto sheet feed and even does two sided automatically. I use it for 1099s for accountant and it does pretty well even with all the odd sizes. Regular paper is fine. Also prints both sides (duplex printing).

To the comment about why the all in ones are cheaper: ink.

Not to the point of the original question, but I bought a used Epson photo/slide scanner and Epson updated the software for High Sierra which presumably means Catalina too.

But Apple’s new silicon will no doubt bring challenges in the future.

Check if VueScan works with Big Sur. Some developers have already run preliminary tests.

My husband and I were wringing our hands around the year 1997 or so because our beloved LaserWriter that printed true PostScript was in its death throes. At the time, there were few remaining desktops that had true PS, and they cost well over $1,000 more than printers that had PS emulation. And I was moaning and groaning on TidBITS Talk about it, where I got good advice that the emulation worked fine. A few days later I started a new job and the company had HP desktops with emulation and the printouts of PS documents looked as good as the LaserWriter’s, even with very tiny or very large type. So we saved well over $1,000 and that HP lasted well over 15 years of hard labor. We replaced it with another HP years ago, and I recommend the brand, but we’ve never had to call tech support. If I was in a situation where I was advised to buy a PC, I would have gone ballistic.

We’ve only had B&W laser desktops at home and at work, so I can’t speak for all-in-ones. But as the vast majority desktop printer users don’t even know what PostScript is, and probably don’t have any PS fonts; to be on the safe side, I’d check to make sure a printer you’re interested in has PS emulation.

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Do you have any first-hand evidence that this is an actual problem?

I’ve used plenty of printers with PostScript “emulation”. They work just fine. Being “genuine” only means that the manufacturer is paying license fees to Adobe. It doesn’t guarantee a quality implementation and absence of this license doesn’t mean it’s a bad implementation.

To be fair, there are two different kinds of “PostScript emulation”.

One is where the printer has an actual implementation of PostScript, but without an Adobe license, so they can’t legally call it “PostScript”. This is what I typically find in laser printers, including HP and Brother (which they call “BR-Script”). These days, most laser printers fall into this category - very few companies want to pay Adobe’s licensing fees when there are third-party implementations available that work just as well and cost less.

The other is where the printer uses some proprietary language and the driver software in your computer converts PostScript content to that language - much like how CUPS printer drivers work when printing PS content to non-PS printers. This kind of “emulation” is typically found in ink-jet printers. But I rarely see it advertised these days, so I suspect most marketing departments decided that it doesn’t actually help sales.

Nobody’s bundled scanner software is any good. They’re all garbage. This includes HP, Epson, Brother and anything else you might find. In many cases, all you get these days is an ICA driver, which means you’re limited to what Apple’s anemic “image capture” app will let you do.

If you want anything more than the most basic features, then you should plan on buying a third party application, no matter what brand/model scanner you choose.

The only really big thing to look out for is that some scanners require a driver from the manufacturer for third-party applications to work with it. These should be avoided, for obvious reasons. Fortunately, the VueScan compatibility database points out these models, so you don’t have the be surprised.

Regarding laser printers, HP has many innovations (which I assume they’ve patented, although many of those patents have probably expired by now), including their “resolution enhancement technology” (RET) where the size of a dot is variable. This provides smoother curves and better halftoning without needing to move to a higher resolution.

These days, I don’t even think it matters. For laser printers, I’ve found that modern versions of PCL (especially versions 5 and 6) look every bit as good, and the printer seems to run faster. I suspect this is because PCL is not a full-blown programming language the way PS is, and therefore requires less bandwidth and CPU power for a page of given complexity.

I’ve also found that manufacturers’ PCL drivers seem to offer access to more printer hardware features than their PS drivers. This is true on both Mac and Windows platforms. I don’t think any printer manufacturer wants to support PS at all, but only does so in order to appeal to those users that require it.

Fortunately, there are generic PCL drivers available in macOS in addition to the generic PS drivers. In the worst case, the Gutenprint drivers have gotten pretty good over the years, at least with respect to laser printers. So you should have two options (generic PCL and generic PS) for any printer manufacturer that drops driver support in the future.


The only really big thing to look out for is that some scanners require a driver from the manufacturer
for third-party applications to work with it. These should be avoided, for obvious reasons. Fortunately, >the VueScan compatibility database points out these models, so you don’t have the be surprised.

My Canon 8800 scanner works fine with VueScan, but won’t work with Paperless. Mariner says Paperless only supports the proprietary driver for scanners, not third-party drivers, and neither Canon nor Apple any longer has a driver that supports the 8800.

VueScan, like many third-party scanner apps, doesn’t provide a “driver” as such. Or more specifically, whatever drivers it uses are built-in to the app and are not (and probably can not be) installed system-wide. As far as users like you and I are concerned, the app is accessing the scanner by directly controlling the USB (or SCSI or FireWire or Ethernet or whatever) data flow between it and the computer.

The only thing resembling a scanner “driver” in macOS is for Apple’s ImageCapture API (ICA). If Paperless isn’t supplying its own drivers, then it is almost certainly using ICA. But since VueScan doesn’t supply an ICA driver (since it doesn’t use ICA), it can’t help in this situation.

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TinyScan on my phone does an excellent jobs of scanning in color or B&W documents or photos. Sends the scans right to Dropbox.

Scans as TIFF or PDF so you can bring it into Adobe Acrobat to do OCR.

Lot cheapers than a big hunk of metal and plastic on your desk.

Of course if you are scanning a high volume of documents, Tiny Scan is not a good solution as you are essentially scanning each page one at a time.

But once in a while I need to send a fax with a “wer” signature. Tiny Scan is perfect for occasional use.

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I own two higher end scanners, a Fujitsu Scansnap, and an Epson V850 Pro but my third scanner is definitely Scanner Pro on my iPhone. If I’m scanning a book I use Scanner Pro, it’s quicker to use and no hassle.

I have found that if I’m scanning a book it is worth my while clipping my iPhone onto a small tabletop tripod that I own, a Koolehaoda C-28 with a Neweer iPhone attachment. I can have it in place on a desk aimed directly down on the book and simply turn pages and Scanner Pro automatically takes a scan and creates a multipage PDF no bother.


@tidbits22 greg, I have the Epson XP800 and I use all the features — scan, Auto sheet, print, double sided, AirPrint, etc… This is off topic —but I am getting steaks when I print in color. It started about 6 months ago. I ALWAYS use Epson brand inks. Do you have —or have had— this problem?

Streaking from an ink-jet printer is usually due to one of the following problems:

  • There might be some debris (small piece of paper or dust) stuck to the head, smearing ink across the page like a marker. If you can remove the head assembly and clean them by rubbing a disposable lint-free cloth across it (e.g. some kinds of lens-cleaning cloths), that might clean it up.

  • Your paper might be too thick for the printer. If the paper touches the head, it is going to smear all over the place. It might also cause the head to snag some of the paper, leading to the previous issue.

    Some printers have adjustment levers to set the head spacing. If yours does, try increasing the gap when using thick papers, like card stock. But remember to put it back when returning to normal (thin) paper, since a too-large gap will also result in lower quality prints.

  • The head might be damaged. If so, you need to replace it. For printers where the head is part of the ink cartridge (e.g. many HP models), you can fix this by replacing the cartridge. For printers where the head is separate assembly, it may or may not be user-replaceable (see your manual). And even if it is replaceable, you may find that the price is higher than a new printer, especially if you have an inexpensive model.

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@janesprando Yes. A frequent problem with this printer and its predecessor. I’ve tried cleaning using various techniques (using printer cleaning programs and mechanical); sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn’t. Usually helps for a while. We use our printer several times a week and we live in a moderately humid environment; so drying out shouldn’t be the issue. The reservoir where it self cleans seem to be very wet (I think that leads to occasional black streaks on printing). I’ve never figured out a pattern of the problem. On rereading, I’m not sure what your problem is? Biggest problem is incomplete printing in narrow streaks about 1" apart. And sometimes black streaks. But maybe you are describing extra ink in streaks.

@tidbits22 Greg, the streaking problem only occurs with colored prints. I run the various maintenance procedures and it doesn’t help. On a colored copy/print, I’ll get horizontal white or colored lines through the document. I printed a directory in black & white, but with alternating colored backgrounds and I got vertical white streaks through the whole document. I also use the printer several times a week and live in rainy Oregon. I bought Inkjet Cleaner Sheets from OfficeMax and it supposed to clean the feed rollers. When I have used the sheets, only black ink splotches appear on the sheet. (OfficeMax has discontinued carrying them!) And the color streaks continue.