How To Scan Two-Sided Documents With A Single Sided Scanner

NOTE: This post first appeared on a site that I used to own but I abandoned the domain name. I’m posting it here for reasons that will (hopefully) soon become obvious.

OK, let’s do the obvious first!

I needed to scan some two-sided documents in May 2016. Unfortunately, my Brother MFC-7365DN laser printer only scans one side of a document. So I turned to the Internet to find a solution.

As always, the Internet came through for me. Not only did I find a solution, I found one that was written with my exact printer in mind. In fact, it was written with the exact software I have on my computer in mind.

Do you know how I know this?

Because I wrote the article and posted it a year earlier.

Oops…

So I’ve decided to start capturing some of these “solutions” on my personal blog. Who knows when I’ll need them again? And unlike a lot of the domains I’ve let expire (another long story), I’ll probably keep this one for some time to come.

Onward.

One quick note about this solution: My solution has gotten better over time, so rather than re-post the old stuff (which has gotten to be hopelessly convoluted as time goes on), I’ll just what I do now.

How To Scan Both Sides Of A Document On A One-Sided Scanner

These instructions were developed on a Windows 10 computer. They should work on just about any scanner.

  1. Scan the first side of the document to your computer.
    • Scan the document as a PDF.
  2. Flip the pages over (you don’t need to reverse the pages).
  3. Scan the other side of the document.
  4. Move both PDFs to their own folder.
  5. Go to https://www.pdflabs.com/tools/pdftk-pro/ and pay $3.99 for the app listed there (PDFtk Pro).
    • No, that’s not an affiliate link.
  6. Install the app on your computer.
    • Strangely enough, you don’t need to open the app.
  7. Open the folder (directory) you made in Step 4 in Windows Explorer.
  8. While holding down the Shift key on your keyboard, right-click on the folder name and select “Open PowerShell Window Here” (your system may say “Open Command Prompt Here” or something similar). A PowerShell (command) window appears.
  9. Enter the following command; just change the file names so that the first PDF you scanned is after “A=” and the second PDF you scanned is after “B=”. You can also change the name of the output PDF at the end of the line to something other than”collated.pdf”. Also note that the line may wrap, depending on the web browser you are using to read this post, but this command should all be on one line:
    • pdftk A=CCF07222018_0001.pdf B=CCF07222018_0002.pdf shuffle A Bend-1 output collated.pdf
  10. Your document will now be in “collated.pdf” (or whatever you named it) in the proper order.

 

Now this could get to be more complex. As an example, if your pages are rotated 90 degrees, everything will be sideways when you open the PDF. You can simply rotate the PDF in your PDF reader (e.g. Adobe Acrobat Reader) or you can modify the command you use to create the collated PDF so that it rotates the pages for you as you create the PDF. I won’t get into specific use cases in this blog post but you can find some actual examples at https://www.pdflabs.com/docs/pdftk-cli-examples/.

If you want to see a copy of the help file (that you can access from the PowerShell window by typing “pdftk –help”, it’s online at https://www.pdflabs.com/docs/pdftk-man-page/.

If you’re too frugal (CHEAP!) to spend 4 bucks on the software, you can actually download the command line version of the software for free at https://www.pdflabs.com/tools/pdftk-server/. I’d like to encourage you to spend the money; the developers have made a very useful tool available for less than you’d pay for lunch at a fast food restaurant and I think that paying for an app you’re going to use a lot is smart business.

DISCLAIMER: All information on this website is for, well, informational purposes only. You have to decide if this tool and this procedure is for you. You assume all risks associated with trying the stuff in this article on your own. Consult with the creators of the software mentioned in this post if you require assistance. If you want my help, I do offer paid consultations; more information is available at this link.