Using a HP scanner can be tricky since most of the software that comes with it doesn't really explain what it does and you will be left trying to figure out what app is for what! Read this article to gain ninja-like mastery over HP's scanner software for Mac OS X.
Snow Leopard Installs Drivers on the Fly
With Snow Leopard's ability to download and install printer drivers on the fly, Apple has truly made it extremely easy for every Mac user out there. Thanks to their true 'plug and play' solution, we don't have to worry about installing drivers and software for our printer nor does one have to worry about printer compatibility while you're in the office or at the college library or even at a friend's place. As long as you have access to the Internet you'll be able to print off of any modern printer. This is true for HP's multi-function printers as well. Most of us who have a HP printer never would have bothered with installing the software that came with it and with good reason. Most printer companies like to have you install their own set of photo editing and sharing software, (in other words, bloatware) which just fills up your computer with software you won't end up using.
Where's That Disc Now?
While OS X will automatically download the drivers, it doesn't automatically install the HP software utilities shipped with your printer. If you want to use the multiple functions of your multi-function printer you need to get your hands on the HP Scanjet software, which you can do by clicking here. Once you've gone ahead and installed the software you'll be surprised at how easy the latest HP Scanjet software for the Mac is. Not only is the software easy to use, the UI is also very Mac-like. Make sure you don't install all of the other applications in their suite — you don't really need another photo editing app other than the new iPhoto (which includes Red Eye correction) now do you?
Which App to Use?
Now that you've got the drivers as well as the essential software installed you need to decide on which app you're going to use to get the scan from. Users of PhotoShop will already be on their way to running the scanner but for everyone else it might be a slightly complicated issue. The one application that comes to rescue here is HP Scan Pro which is bundled with the software that you just installed. It is a stand alone application whose sole purpose is to help you scan with your HP multipurpose printer and scanner. While this application may have a barebones interface, I assure you that it is extremely powerful.
To start your scan you need to click and hold the pill icon in the top left corner of the browser window. The drop down offers you a bunch of options ranging from text to picture. These options are not representative of what media you're scanning but what kind of output you need from the scanner. For example, if you're scanning a letter and you choose text, HP Scan Pro will invoke its built in OCR or Optical Character recognition software and convert the whole document to an editable text format. Told you this application was powerful!
However, select the standard picture icon if you'd like to capture a true scan of the document and then wait as your scanner chugs along doing its bit. After the scan is complete you'll be presented with a Save As dialog where you have to select what format you'd like to save the document in. I prefer PDF but you should choose whatever format you need the scan in.