Make PDFs With Your Smartphone


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Your smartphone can be used for much more than checking email and making phone calls. Many cloud storage systems have mobile apps that allow you to access files on the road.

Given that I work in a paperless office, one issue that consistently drives me crazy, however, is an inability to make PDFs of documents unless I am in the office. That problem is now solved.

Prizmo lets you “scan” on the go

Prizmo is an iPhone app that lets you take pictures of almost anything and turn it into a PDF—receipts, business cards, and even full documents. It has a variety of image processing features that allow you to rotate and scale documents to make them the right size. For example, if you take a picture of a document laying a table that is not “straight-on,” you can rotate it with Prizmo to make properly justified.

It also has OCR text recognition software, meaning it can scan a full document and recognize all the text. You can then highlight portions of the text and easily copy and paste them into an email on your iPhone. It also has text-speech capabilities, which may not be incredibly useful, but it is available if needed.

Prizmo can also send scanned documents directly to your Dropbox account or other cloud storage account. It is not clear, however, what other cloud services it is designed to work with. The app costs $9.99, which seems like a fair price for an app that could turn out to be incredibly useful. At this time, it is only available for the iPhone.

A cheaper alternative?

Evernote is free and available for a wider variety of smartphones. It does not appear to have all the extra bells and whistles that Prizmo does, but it appears to have the same basic features. Evernote, however, appears to be more designed for helping you organize your thoughts and notes.

If you find yourself considering one or both, give Evernote a try and see if it fits the bill. If not, fork over the ten bucks and give Prizmo a ride.


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  • Steve

    Prizmo is an impressive iPhone app, but does not appear to output PDF documents (unlike its desktop counterpart). I purchased it for that purpose on the strength of this article. I am, however, impressed by what it is capable of, and the Dropbox integration is perfect for my needs.

    For the output formats the Prizmo iPhone app does support, see the answer to the question “Which formats are available for export?” at the link below.

  • Randall Ryder

    @ Steve – it looks like you are correct, and my apologies for not catching that.