• Overview


What is the difference between a scanner and a photocopier?

Photocopier ScannerPhotocopiers are standard pieces of office equipment, and have been since the 1970s. As technology has developed, the majority of photocopiers in offices today are ‘multifunction’ devices. It can be hard to distinguish the difference between a photocopier and a scanner as they appear to operate in similar ways, yet the method of output is vastly different.

The beginning processes of photocopying and scanning are identical. You place a document on the platen – the flat glass surface on the top of the device, or in the document feeder (which allows multiple sheets to be copied or scanned at once). You then push a button and the machine acquires a digital image of the document.

The next stages of the process are quite different however. If the machine is a photocopier, it simply prints the digital image onto one or more blank sheets of paper. If the machine is a scanner, it stores a digital copy of the image and transmits it to a computer (via email or network), or stores it on a USB or memory card.

Copying documents is a simpler process than scanning. Most photocopiers require users to press a button to start the photocopying process. Additional buttons are available to change print quality or increase the number of copies. In contrast, scanning requires users to have a basic knowledge of computers to manage the transmitting, storage and editing of scans. When you press the button for scanning, you may be faced with a pop up message, asking you what to do next – scan to folder or email.

Scanners are the tool for business owners that want to go ‘paperless’, yet if paper is your medium of choice for document transmission and recording, then a copier will suffice. However, any devices combine the two functions today. Multifunction devices combine a printer, copier and scanner in to one device, giving you all the options, as well as the option of fax.