In the past I have posted about how to use Japanese ScanSnap drivers, and have posted that the new Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 and S1500M will be cross-platform, but what if you don’t want to mess around with foreign drivers or have an older ScanSnap scanner?
if you have access to a Windows XP CD, there is a free way that you can use your ScanSnap S510 or S300 on your Mac using VirtualBox. (This may even work with Linux too – I’ve never tried).
VirtualBox is a free open source program that will let you run Windows on your Mac. There’s no rebooting required like Boot Camp – you run Windows inside a window in your Mac. This is great not only for the ScanSnap but for any Windows program you may be stuck using.
There are two requirements to do this:
- You need to have an Intel mac. No Powerbooks or Powermacs, sorry.
- You need to have access to a Windows XP installation CD
Ready? Here’s how to do it:
1. Go to http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads and download VirtualBox for OSX hosts
2. Double-click on the downloaded VirtualBox .DMG file and open it up. Then double-click on the VirtualBox.mpkg installer
Follow through all the prompts and click Close when done.
3. In the Applications folder, double click on the VirtualBox application
4. Once VirtualBox starts up, click the New icon
5. Go through the steps of the Wizard. At first, give your new virtual machine a name (you can think of a virtual machine as your new Windows-inside-your-Mac). Give it as much memory as you want but don’t go below the recommendation. For this I stuck with the base 192 Megs but you may want to bump it up if you can.
6. If you are doing this for the first time, chose New for Hard Drive and when you go through the wizard you probably want to choose Dynamic Storage
7. You can leave the name of your new virtual disk as-is and give it whatever you think you need for hard drive space.
8. Hit Finish to end the new virtual disk creation wizard, then Next to choose your new disk, then Finish
9. You’ll now see that the Settings and Start menus are activated. Before we start, we want to enable USB. Click the Settings Icon and then the Ports menu. Click Enable USB Controller.
10. Click OK and then the Green Start arrow
11. You’re going to get a message about it auto-capturing your keyboard. All that is saying is that if you are “in Windows” and you do something like Alt-Tab, it will be doing the Alt-Tab in Windows and not in your Mac. If you don’t want that, just hold down the left Command key. Hit OK.
12. Now it’s time for the First Run Wizard. Pop in your Windows XP CD, choose where it is, and hit Next and Finish if it’s right.
13. Now we get the beautiful blue Windows install screens we know and love. Hit Enter to choose your new Unpartitioned Space and choose to format NTFS. Then let it run.
14. Create a Shared Folder so that your Mac can see documents that your Windows VM has scanned. Click the Shared Folders icon and then Add A Shared Folder.
15. Choose or create a folder and then click Make Permanent and hit OK
16. Before your new shared folder will work, in the top VirtualBox VM menu, choose Devices and then Install Guest Additions. Choose VBoxWindowsAdditions.exe and follow the prompts
17. Map that new folder to a drive letter, say in this example the Z drive. In Windows Explorer. go to My Network Places, Then Entire Network, then VirtualBox Shared Folders and you should see \\VBOXSVR\Scanned (or whatever you called your new folder). Right click on that and choose Map Network Drive and give it a drive letter.
18. Now it’s time to follow Fujitsu’s instructions for installing your Windows ScanSnap. Don’t plug in your ScanSnap yet but install the software on your Setup CD.
19. Plug in your ScanSnap and turn it on. You will likely find.. nothing happens. Your light on your ScanSnap may blink. You need to tell VirtualBox that you want to enable it first. Click on the Ports icon on the bottom of your VM and choose your scanner from the list of devices.
20. Scan away! Either scan to a folder or using ScanSnap Organizer. Either way, if you want your PDFs to be accessible by the Mac you will probably want to scan them to your drive that you created in step 17.
There we go. It’s really not as complex as this 20 step tutorial may make it sound, but if you give it a try let me know how it goes.