The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 is probably the most popular document scanner for small firms, and for good reasons. Historically, this has been because all ScanSnaps are easy to set up and use, with a famous one-button scan and a best-in-class scanning utility, ScanSnap Manager.

Since it was released, Fujitsu has steadily upgraded the scanner and made it an even more compelling value. Now it can scan wirelessly to your computer, or even straight to the cloud. (It included the ability to scan to your mobile device when it launched.)

While the ScanSnap and going paperless have definitely caught on with lawyers, we do still get plenty of questions from those who aren’t sure whether to buy one (although of course you should) or have questions about getting the most from their ScanSnap.

Since the hundreds questions and answers in the comments on our ScanSnap reviews are getting unwieldy, here are some of the most common questions, with answers.

For background, I still have my ScanSnap iX500 review unit from Fujitsu. It is over three years old, but it still works great and I still use it for everyday scanning tasks.

I have an older ScanSnap. Should I buy the iX500?

If you only ever scan documents to your computer with a plugged-in scanner, you are fine using an older ScanSnap like the S1500 or S510 (or even the S500, if you still have one).

But if you stick with an older unit, you will be missing out on the best features of the iX500, like the ability to scan straight to your cloud file storage (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc.). That’s pretty convenient even at your desk, but it is a killer feature if you regularly take your scanner along to meetings or document reviews outside your office. And of course the iX500 is a bit faster than its predecessors, particularly when it comes to OCR.

Now, the iX500 is over three years old, and it was released about four years after the S1500, which was released about three years after the S500 (a minor update, the S510, came in between). So if you don’t currently need a new scanner, you might want to hold off until Fujitsu releases a new one as long as you realize you might be waiting a year or more.

What size documents can the ScanSnap handle?

The feeder is 9″ wide, so the ScanSnap can handle pages that are just a bit wider than standard US letter or A4 paper. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can scan teeny-tiny receipts, although you might have to move them around to make sure the scanner can tell there is a piece of paper in the feeder.

What about thicker documents, like drivers licenses and passports? Credit cards and drivers licenses go through the iX500 just fine. Passports are a tight fit, but you can get them through. If you need to scan anything bigger than that, though, you might want to get the ScanSnap SV600.

What kind of software does the iX500 come with?

It comes with the ScanSnap Manager, a small, useful scanning utility, and some other software you don’t need, like ScanSnap Organizer, CardMinder, ScanSnap Receipt, and so on. I don’t bother installing those other utilities because they just take up space and aren’t worth using.

The iX500 also comes with ABBY FineReader, which allows you to scan documents straight to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It works pretty well, too.

The ScanSnap no longer ships with a copy of Adobe Acrobat. Instead, it comes with Nuance Power PDF Standard, which doesn’t really do the job of Acrobat Standard, much less Acrobat Pro, which every law firm should have at least one copy of.

What software should I use to manage documents?

If you are solo, you really don’t need document management software. Your computer is already a document management machine. If your firm is just two or three lawyers, you can probably get by without document management software and just agree on how to organize your files.

If it were me, I would use NetDocuments, which integrates really well with Office 365 so it is easy to use. Also consider MetaJure, which takes a novel approach to document management.

What file types does the ScanSnap support?

PDF and JPEG, but using ABBY you can also scan to Word and Excel format.

What kind of file sizes can I expect?

It is pretty hard to generalize, since every change in settings will result in different file sizes. But using just a couple of files as an example, here is what I came up with: A one-page color scan on medium quality is a 211.2KB PDF. A four-page mixed scan (only 1 page color) on medium quality is a 438.6KB PDF. Hope that helps.

How well does the double-feed detection work?

It works pretty well, but it is not bulletproof. You should still keep an eye on your scanner to make sure it doesn’t pull in two pages.

Can I use this to scan photos?

Sure. But if you are looking for super-quality, archival scans, get something else. This is a document scanner.


One of the main differences between ScanSnaps and their competition is that ScanSnaps do not support TWAIN. If you just read that sentence and wondered what TWAIN is, do not worry about it. You probably don’t need TWAIN.

TWAIN is protocol scanners use to communicate with software. ISIS and SANE are alternatives. The ScanSnap uses a proprietary protocol.

So why would you care about TWAIN? It used to be that you would scan into your various programs in the same way that you could print from them. However, nobody ever does that. You just scan the image and save it as a file, then drag that file into your Word document or whatever you are working on. No TWAIN necessary.

But some people like using third-party scanning utilities like PaperPort. You are probably familiar with PaperPort if you had a flatbed scanner many years ago. It still comes bundled with a lot of scanners. If you really want to use PaperPort to scan documents, you will need a scanner that supports TWAIN. But if you don’t want to use PaperPort (and I don’t know why you would want to), you will be fine.

So if you don’t know what TWAIN is, don’t worry about it. I’m almost certain you don’t need it.

Did I miss your question? Feel free to ask in the comments.

  • Does the ScanSnap integrate with any popular practice management software? ;)

  • Simpleman

    I love this thing. Scanning directly to the cloud is a great feature. We’ve got good computers and all, but ounce for ounce this is easily the best piece of equipment in our office.

  • Roy Simon

    Sam is absolutely right — the iX500 is easy to use, and it has transformed my practice. I am a one-person office with no secretary. I have had mine for about three years and use it almost every day. For example, I scan every check I receive, and I often scan key documents that my clients send me as hard copy.

  • Joseph Dang

    I miss Twain. I like to initiate the scan from Acrobat. Fujitsu’s higher end scanners have Twain.

    When this one dies I’ll probably get something different.

    I’ve played with all of the options, but my software only OCR’s the first page. I checked the box to OCR all pages, uninstalled, reinstalled to no avail. Kind of annoying so I have to OCR it in Acrobat anyway.