Using my Canon N1240U Scanner with Windows 8

As I was doing my taxes today, I had the need to scan some documents. The last time I had used my scanner, however, was still under Windows 7. Unfortunately, I ran into a couple of problems trying to use it under Windows 8. I haven’t found a lot of information on this particular setup, so I thought I would share my experience (and resolution).

Preamble: 32 bit only

The steps outlined below only worked on the 32 bit version of Windows. I have not been able to get the scanner to work with my Surface Pro (which runs the 64 bit version of Windows 8 Pro). There don’t seem to be any 64 bit drivers available from Canon. Not for Windows 8, 7 Vista or XP.

Getting the driver and tools: simple

When you go to Canon’s download page for the N1240U, there isn’t actually a driver for Windows 8 (or Windows 7 for that matter). The latest they offer is a Vista driver. So I got that driver and it installed just fine (this was back when I upgraded to Windows 8).

I also got the CanoScan Toolbox, because I like how simple it is to create (multi-page) PDFs with this tool.

Actually using the scanner: not so much

So today was the first time I actually tried to use the scanner. Alas, the CanoScan Toolbox did not work. When it was time to select an acquisition device, my scanner showed up in the list (alongside my Windows Phone, which I guess registers as an image acquisition (WIA) device  as well). Upon selecting the scanner, however, I just got the message

	Unable to open TWAIN source

If you search for that error message, there are a couple of tips to resolve this. The most common seems to be to add the directory containing the driver to the PATH environment variable (see this blog post by Jeff Widmer). I have tried that, however, it didn’t work for me. Since most web pages I found are from the Vista/Windows 7 era, maybe my problem is a different one. I was tempted to start up Process Monitor to see what exactly CanoScan was trying to do. But because I do enough of that stuff at work, I didn’t want to spend more time than necessary on analyzing and debugging other people’s software.

Other ways to scan: nope

So I just tried to determine whether it was a problem with the driver or an application problem, by trying to scan with other applications I had installed.

The Photos app in Windows 8 unfortunately only seems to import from WIA sources, because it didn’t even recognize the scanner.

In Adobe Photoshop Elements 9, I got the same error message.

Next up, Microsoft OneNote 2013. I have been using OneNote since 2003 and didn’t know OneNote even supported scanners, but it does (and with OCR, too). At first, it scanned the image successfully, but some of the colors came out wrong and it only wanted to save the file in PNG format, which didn’t work for the images I had. I guess the use case for scanning in OneNote is slightly different than what I wanted to accomplish.

I had thought that Microsoft Word had an option to scan and insert pictures (and it once did), but for the 2010 version the support document for scanning images simply recommends “Use the software that was included with your scanner to scan and save the image to your computer.” and the same seems to be the case for the 2013 version I have.

As far as I can tell, those all the applications I have that support scanners.

Resolution: scan with IrfanView

One of the articles I had found while looking into the TWAIN error message above, however, recommended using IrfanView to check whether the driver was installed correctly. Because I find its enormous feature set a bit overwhelming, I have never been a big fan of IrfanView. But lo and behold, it did recognize my scanner and produced flawless scans.

So I guess I will be sticking with it for the rare instances that I do need to scan something. If anyone reading this knows of an easier scanning solution for Windows 8, please leave a comment.


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