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mpemburn 04-04-2009 09:18 AM

Scanners and OS X

I have a client who just switched to Mac and, even though I'm a Mac user and enthusiast, it's turning out to be a mixed blessing for me. The current challenge is scanning.

After doing a lot of searching around, it's beginning to seem as if support for scanning -- especially sophisticated scanning needs -- is pretty weak in OS X. For my personal needs, VueScan works well because I have a supported scanner (Canoscan N670U) but I can't recommend this to my client because neither his HP OfficeJet nor his Fujitsu 5110c are supported.

I've identified a couple of scanners that may work but fall short in some areas. The Fujitsu "ScanSnap" scanners are designed for Mac but they have a proprietary means of communicating -- neither TWAIN nor ISIS are supported. There are also some HP models designed for Mac -- I'm looking into the ScanJet 5590 -- but it's not clear from what I've read whether they are TWAIN or ISIS compliant.

The reason this is an issue is that I hope to be able to provide my client with a Mac version of the Java-based custom software I wrote for him that, at the moment works only in Windows. Java TWAIN libraries have become available for Mac as well as Windows since I first wrote the software but it does me no good if I can't identify a TWAIN-compliant scanner for OS X that has the features we need (high speed, duplex scanning and color). Can anyone here offer some guidance?

Thanks in advance,


brianwmay 04-04-2009 10:43 AM

I had one of those that worked well in XP. I just couldn't get it to work with Mac OSX - one of the few things that doesn't.

I bought a Canon Canoscan LiDE 200 and it's brilliant - better than the 670 which I gave to a friend.

As a matter of interest, this is the only bit of hardware I needed to change after switching.

hughvane 04-04-2009 03:56 PM

Do the following help?
High Resolution Scanner
Mac scanner reviews - current
Printers and Scanners;Mac Compatible Printers and Scanners;Computers;London Drugs
Epson, arguably, still leads the scanner technology battle. I take my cue from the number of photo professionals who use Epson as their first choice. TWAIN is part and parcel of Epson software.

harryb2448 04-04-2009 06:25 PM

Also as a suggestion you might try VueScan and the latest version which works with over 1200 scanners was released just this month. here is the link:-

VueScan Scanning Software

mpemburn 04-07-2009 07:52 AM

Thanks for your suggestions. I'm looking into the TWAIN-SANE interface that apparently makes it possible to use a whole host of scanners with OS X despite lack of support from their manufacturers. It's a totally geeky solution and the documents are all in Unix-ese -- something I find annoying.

[rant mode on]
Ya know, Mac is famous for having things "just work" -- which is true in a vast number of cases but scanning is one of those instances where the opposite is true. It's one of those things that "just don't work" unless you can find a group of fiendishly dedicated people who've cobbled together a work-around. If you have a facility with Unix command-line stuff, that's fine and maybe your problems will be solved. If you're an end user with no recourse to a geek, you're S.O.L. In my case, I came to Unix late and use it infrequently so I'm sunk if some part of the sparse instructions fails and I can't find help to fix it. I hope that at some point Apple addresses the scanner issue with the thoroughness that they've applied to other parts of the OS.
[rant mode off]

Davidk02 04-07-2009 11:53 AM

Just for reference, I got Vuescan yesterday, and it works perfectly. I have an old (at least 3-4 years) HP printer. Thank you harryb. Nice piece of software.

mpemburn 04-07-2009 05:04 PM

I couldn't agree more that VueScan is great -- but it's essentially a one-man show and it only supports the scanners that he's had an opportunity to test it with. He's created his proprietary protocol to communicate with the scanner hardware rather than using a standards-compliant layer like TWAIN or ISIS. That's probably because he had no choice at the time he began the project ten years ago and there was no reason to change his method as time went on.

I downloaded and installed the SANE packages this afternoon. The system is actually not as arcane as I feared. There's a back end that handles the scanner hardware and a USB library that's needed for USB scanners. The interface puzzled me for a while because it doesn't install as a app that you can open from Applications. Instead, it automatically comes up in Image Capture. My initial impression is not all that favorable, though: the Overview (Preview) doesn't work and no matter what I do, it'll only scan the upper-right corner of the page.

John F 05-30-2010 09:45 PM

I get the feeling that the good folks at Fujitsu were so happy with the great product that they had in the ScanSnap, that they went for a celebratory lunch and left the writing of the software to a couple of interns who were unhappy at being left behind. Great hardware but users are restricted to crippled software and no other choice. I hope they fix it, but until they do, my ScanSnap will collect dust.

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