Three Ways to Scan an Image

Chances are, your PC lets you control your scanner in three different ways: using Windows' built-in scanning wizard; using your graphics program's own menus; or using the scanner's own software. Here's the rundown on each method, and when to select it.

• Windows XP's Scanner and Camera Wizard. This wizard, the same one you learned about earlier in this chapter, works well for quick, on-the-fly scans: faxing documents, placing images on a Web site, emailing photos to friends, or for treating your scanner like a simple copy machine. (If you want to summon the wizard when using a graphics program, look for the menu choice labeled WIA, which stands for Windows Image Acquisition.) Most programs stick their WIA choices in the File —* Import menu.) Full details on how to use the scanner wizard start in Section 4.5.

The easy-to-use wizard offers another bonus: The wizard works the same way on every modern scanner. Once you learn the wizard's controls, you can apply those skills to operate the scanner at work or a friend's house, or even on your next scanner.

• TWAIN. Whereas Windows XP's wizard resembles the easy-to-operate, Point and Shoot setting on a camera, TWAIN is like switching the camera to Manual. Here, you can adjust a scan's size by tenth-of-an-inch increments, save presets of custom settings, tweak color values, and perform other adjustments valued by those who need thembut TWAIN's not essential for most jobs.

A nonprofit group created TWAIN in the early 90s as a way for software and scanners to talk to each otherquite a feat in those days. Most scanners and graphics software still support TWAIN. For instance, choosing TWAIN in Photoshop Elements brings up the advanced controls shown in Figure 4-6, which let you tweak settings that the Windows wizard can'thelpful when choosing specific settings requested by a friend, coworker, graphics shop, or a particular piece of software.

Note: Unlike most uppercase words in TechTalkLand, TWAIN isn't an acronym. Rather, the word refers to a line in Rudyard Kipling's "The Ballad of East and West:" "And never the twain shall meet." The words summed up the frustration of connecting scanners and PCs in the early 90s.

• Scanner's bundled software. Although many scanner manufacturers stick with TWAIN controls, others feel they can do better than the Windows wizard or TWAIN's admittedly technical approach. So they write their own set of controllers, usually trying to make things as simple as possible. The result is a program resembling the wizard, with the same ease of use, but added choices tailored to your specific scanner model.

For instance, one scanner's built-in software may offer an option for using an automatic sheet feeder or a Kodachrome slide holder. If the Windows wizard doesn't offer what you need and TWAIN looks too complicated, give the scanner's bundled software a try.

The bottom line? If you're happy with Windows XP's built-in wizard scanner controls, stick with it. But if you plan to spend a lot of time with your scanner, give each method a try; they each put a different steering wheel on your scanner.

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