Using a Windows ScanSnap On the Mac Using VirtualBox

Using a Windows ScanSnap On the Mac Using VirtualBox

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:

  1. You need to have an Intel mac. No Powerbooks or Powermacs, sorry.
  2. You need to have access to a Windows XP installation CD

Ready? Here’s how to do it:

1. Go to 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.

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply 13 comments

berry johnson - September 9, 2019 Reply

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Freddie Xia - June 22, 2012 Reply

of course like your web-site however you have to test the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling issues and I find it very bothersome to inform the truth however I’ll certainly come again again.

racerx90 - April 7, 2010 Reply

All new set of patches now available. This includes V2.2 L11, V2.2 L12, and V3.0 L20W (patches the dmg file directly! 😉

David - March 23, 2010 Reply

I have been trying to find a way to install my S510 (without the N) on the new iMac that I have just purchased and have tried the Japanese workaround and every other suggestion that I could find on the internet and have had no luck.

Please help!!!

    Brooks Duncan - March 26, 2010 Reply

    Hi David, did you try racerx's patches above in this thread? I've heard people had good luck with them.

Kyaw Lwin - September 13, 2009 Reply

Dear Sirs,

I have a special offer for fi-5110EOXM (MAC version).

Do you think I can purchase the unit and use it in WindowXP?

WIll it works?

I do not rquires to use in MAC OS.

Thanks in advance.

    Brooks Duncan - September 15, 2009 Reply

    I don't know about this model specifically, but Fujitsu didn't make their scanners cross-platform until the most recent version, so I doubt it. If you are feeling brave, you can check into the link that racerx90 posted above. Good luck.

Bob - June 30, 2009 Reply

I patched the Scansnap manager and can now use my original generation PC Scansnap on OS X. Great and thanks. Question: if I purchase a new, current Mac model Scansnap, could I use the patched driver with it, so that I could use both Scansnaps on my OS X laptop, one at home, and one at the office?

racerx90 - April 19, 2009 Reply

Yes – read on:

Honestly, the Fujitsu ScanSnap scanners are really great – no complaints whatsoever except for one. Having switched to a Mac laptop for my new job ended up orphaning my S300 scanner (expensive paperweight) with no way to work on the Mac (it's ridiculous that Fujitsu does this) and I wasn't about to buy another one.

I tried just about everything to get the S300 scanner working with the MAC driver under OS X (including the resource swap trick with the Japanese driver – but it doesn't support S300, not to mention it's a complete waste of time), but it just doesn't work. Even though most of the code is in the MAC driver to support all of the PC-based ScanSnap scanners – Fujitsu just disables it in the initialization routine based on DevID's.

Essentially what I found out after a lot of testing is that there's no discernible difference between the the PC-variant and the MAC-variant scanner hardware – even the firmware for the S300 line is software loaded from the driver. The only real difference is the PCI Device IDs (0x117F vs. 0x1156), which holds true for the rest of the ScanSnap scanners.

After months of procrastinating I decided that I had enough of the VMware/VirtualBox solution and decided to just do a binary patch for the ScanSnap Manager software for the Mac and add support for all the ScanSnap scanners. Now the S300, S500, S510, and fi-5110EOX/2/3 scanners will work under OSX with the latest V2.2 L11 Mac ScanSnap drivers from Fujitsu (which was designed to work with the S300M, S500M, S510M and fi-5110EOXM scanners.) Go to forums at MAC OS X Hints, read through the thread to find the installation instructions and you will also find a link to download the patches that I created (… ). It's a simple 1-step process to do the patch (just drag the ScanSnap Manager application on the patch utility and it does all the work for you plus it supports multiple languages!)

Finally, I also figured out and documented how to use MAC-based ScanSnap scanners on PCs (Windows) with a 1-line change to the device drivers. Even though I did it with the S300M, I'm positive it will work with the S500M, S510M, and fi-5110EOXM scanners. It's in the same MAC OS X Hints thread I linked to above (just read it for details.)

This should eliminate *all* cross-platform incompatibilities with the Scanners and the corresponding drivers.

Hopefully that will help others.

    Brooks Duncan - April 24, 2009 Reply

    Wow, thank you so much for this awesome walkthrough racerx90!I never would have thought of messing around with the application files themselves, so I will definitely check out that thread. You're the ScanSnap king (we're not worthy…).

      racerx90 - April 25, 2009 Reply


      LOL! By no means am I the "ScanSnap king"!

      It was out of shear frustration I did this in the first place (I wasn't about to buy a new scanner either although the thought had crossed my mind once or twice while debugging this! 😉

      I doubt you'd believe me if I told you that I'm not an engineer; I work in marketing – it's the honest truth. I also just got a Mac this past year, so by no means am I an expert in OS X either.

      What I did anyone could have also done if they would have just took the time. Once I figured out that you could turn an S300 into an S300M by loading the Mac firmware file under a Windows VM (then disconnecting the scanner and giving it back to the host OS) – I knew the Mac ScanSnap Manager could be re-written. It clearly wasn't a "hardware" limitation (given the firmware has to be loaded by the software each time the scanner is initialized.)

      From there, all I did was use otool/otx to disassemble the code. Once I had the disassembly to work from, I used the assembler reference guide to decipher the instructions (in hex) along with a hex editor to re-write and patch the code in the appropriate addresses. (It's very tedious, but I was rather stubborn to get it working.)

      It was fairly easy to locate the correct routines since the DevIDs of the scanners are clearly readable in the code (and I got those from the SANE supported device list web page.)

      What I mean by that is you'd see a cmpw instruction along with 0x117F (S300M) DevID – so you knew for sure you found one of the code paths. Some of those DevIDs, would then need to be re-written for their PC-scanner counterparts – for instance, S300M – 0x117F needed to be changed to S300 – 0x1156 (or 5611 in hex) and so forth for all the different scanners. The rest of the code sections were documented well enough from the disassembler (i.e. firmware load, initialization, etc.), so when you were following the code paths you could see exactly where you were at least.

      Essentially, there's only 3 unique scanner code paths in the drivers – S300M, S500M/S510M, and fi-5110EOXM. All the scanner types fall into one of those code paths which I then changed to support their PC-based counterparts.

      There was only 1 other change I needed to do in order to fix a bug I found in the about->details menu. This was a bit more tricky, because I had to re-write the instructions (not just the DevIDs) to handle the other scanner types (this is where the assembler instruction guide came in handy.) Otherwise, it wouldn't correctly identify the scanner name in the details window, and at least for the S300 (I believe for others as well), it wouldn't show the correct icon in the dock and if it's running on USB or AC power (it's more cosmetic than anything, but I wanted it to be right.)

      For the most part, it was just a bunch of trial and error to get it working (since I couldn't read through every line of code (there's literally tens of thousands of lines), so I made a lot of assumptions and took a *LOT* of guesses) – meaning, you make a change, and then test it out until I finally got the entire code-path working and debugged.

      Surprisingly enough, there's already a lot of the PC-based scanner support code in the Mac ScanSnap Manager application so it wasn't a ton of work for me (there might be only 15 places I had to patch a few bytes). It looks like Fujitsu originally had it in the code, then pulled it out at the last minute for some reason (I'm certain the code was there then removed based on what's left.)

      I recently emailed Fujitsu and asked them if they could provide cross platform support in their drivers for their other scanners now that they've released cross-platform support for their new S1500-series (obviously there's been a number customers complaining about it.) Hopefully, they'll have it in their heart to do it, but I'm still waiting on an answer (but I'm not holding my breath.)

      Finally, I've documented my patch and also posted a link to download it in the MAC OS X Hints forum. This way if anyone would like to know what I did or learn from this then the information is available.

      Anyway, even though it was a lot of "fun" to do – I'm glad at least that it's been helpful to others in the same situation as me (I'm definitely not alone.) My patch kit has already been downloaded almost 390 times so far without a single issue reported! Thanks!


        Clint Marks - October 13, 2009 Reply

        You are modest. Your work is much appreciated.

tjcarter - April 4, 2009 Reply

Seems people are always trying to use the Windows ScanSnaps on a Mac.. Has anyone tried to go the other direction?

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