CanoScan LiDE 25 – Mac friendly?

CanoScan LiDE 25

CanoScan LiDE 25

Before my heady days as a Mac user, I bought a Canon CanoScan LiDE 25 scanner for my Windows XP setup. It’s a good little scanner too, not particularly quick so you wouldn’t use it to digitize a huge collection of documents for example, but for the odd letter or photo it was fine.

Naturally the time came to move it into my Mac-world and once again to experience a large company’s attempts to support the Mac market. Fair play to Canon – unlike some peripheral makers I could mention, they do at least have a go at providing Mac software, even if the results are not that exciting. So what it boils down to is – is the CanoScan LiDE 25 a good choice for the Mac user with occasional scanning needs?

Well I started off (perhaps naively) assuming that if I downloaded the latest CS driver and Toolbox software for the LiDE 25 from the Canon website then I’d be in business. Wrong! Having done this and having then installed first the driver, then the software, both of which told me they had installed successfully, the Toolbox software was unable to ‘open the driver’. With no errors appearing in the console to give me a clue I uninstalled and repeated the process but it didn’t help, even though the System Profile clearly showed that the scanner was connected.

So instead I resorted to using the installation CD that came with the scanner. The software versions were

Configuring the scanner

Configuring the scanner

older but hopefully they’d work… and they did. After a rather clumsily constructed install process in which you have to click the ‘Quit’ button four times to continue, after a reboot I was presented with a Canon Toolbox that could actually detect the scanner. So far so good. Time to see if it can do the basics.

First up – configuring the scanner. Ok, the very first time you start using the Canon software you’ll realize that the developers have their own view of what OS X software looks like and it sticks out from the aqua interface like a sore thumb. Despite that you can still do what’s necessary which is to set the default actions for the three scanner buttons and a default location for temporary scanner files.

Next – scanning a document into a pdf. This is where features of the software become an annoyance rather than just a nuisance. While you can set the scan mode, quality and paper size easily enough, you are limited to using file names with 20 characters or less for the output! Also you can’t use file name templates, e.g. if you were scanning some utility bills, you can’t use something like ‘Utility bill – &scandate, &scantime’ with the software filling in the variables, so you’ll probably end up renaming each file after you’ve created it. However, annoyances aside the scan results were pretty good for a scanner costing just £50 ($90).

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) – the install disk includes a copy of OmniPage SE, and the process works well enough in so far as you scan the document and OmniPage SE then loads automatically. Again the software is not very intuitive and someone who isn’t used to using scanner and OCR software will probably struggle a bit. However, that wasn’t my main complaint – it was the fact that the accuracy of the OmniPage software wasn’t particularly good. A simple typed letter scanned in black & white at 400dpi threw up countless errors when OmniPage tried to process it. Experimenting with scanner settings didn’t produce any better results so I’d consign the OCR feature to the ’emergencies only’ bucket and move on.

Mail options

Mail options

Mail – A nice feature would be being able to scan something directly into a mail attachment and that’s what the ‘Mail’ button is for in the Canon Toolbox, and on the scanner itself. You can choose to use or another mail program such as Entourage by using the ‘+’ button. You can also choose to just scan the item to a file and attach it manually in your mail program. Choosing scanned the image and triggered Mail to load, but sometimes the image appeared in-line in the body of the message and sometimes it simply appeared as an attachment. Entourage on the other hand always seems to treat it as an attachment and not put it ‘in-line’. Interestingly, you can specify the name to be used for the attachment immediately before you scan it, however the software then adds a numeric suffix of it’s own to the filename. Note that the 20 character file name limit still applies! Other than that it gets the job done, even if it isn’t very slick and behaves a little inconsistently.

Copy/print – these two functions let you send a scanned document or image to the printer. There seems to be a fair bit of overlap between these two functions, the main difference being that the Print function lets you change the area to be output before printing, wheras Copy just sends it straight to your chosen printer. Again it got the job done and the quality of the output made up for the clumsy software.

That just leaves the Scan-1 and Scan-2 Toolbox buttons which by default let you scan something into an image file (pict, jpeg or tiff) and then save it or pass it to another program for processing. In that respect, if you’re going to be doing a lot of that then you would probably configure the target program to manage the capture stage and use your scanner as the capture device, rather than doing it the other way around.

CanoScan Toolbox X

CanoScan Toolbox X

One final note – I thought that having installed the Canon Toolbox X software from the CD, I would be able to upgrade to the software that’s downloadable from Canon. Nice theory but as soon as I did this it stopped working because the software could no longer see the scanner. I tried upgrading the scanner driver as well but that didn’t help. The only way to get the scanner working was to go back to the software and driver from the installation CD.

So where does that leave me? Well my original use for the scanner which was to scan old photos so I could upload them to Flickr still holds true. For the money it’s an excellent little USB-powered scanner that’s nicely designed and produces very good results for the ad hoc user. The let down is the software. It could be a lot better but it feels clumsy to use and has various limitations. I have to say that the Windows software bundle that comes with the scanner is a lot better. I have seen good reviews of the Fujitsu SnapScan S300M (a Mac-specific version of the cheaper S300) which comment on the excellent software bundle. At £250 ($440) it’s a big jump from the modest CanoScan, but the ability to scan quickly in volume (via a document feeder) and intuitive software, does make it a tempting proposition if you want to de-clutter your house of thousands of old letters and bills.


3 Responses

  1. …..You know you can install the standard/latest driver offered at the Canon US website, you simply need to select the option to “cancel” when the installer dialogue shows “Delsg..”

    If you continue with this part of the installation, the product uninstalls itself. If you “cancel” the product is successfully installed. How ridiculous!

    Alternatively, a driver that does not offer the magic uninstall during install feature can be found at the Canon Europe website (Canon UK, etc).



  2. heyy please guide me with how to scan a pic coz after i scanning the pic it saves in .tmp file…. what do i do… please help…..

  3. Good blog! I definitely love how it’s straightforward on my eyes as well as the details are well written. I am wondering how I may perhaps be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your RSS feed which ought to do the trick! Have a nice day!

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