How to calibrate your Canoscan Scanner in six frustrating steps

I’m traveling with a CanoScan LiDE 700F, and lately I’ve been scanning a lot of art for my Kickstarter project. It’s a nifty little device that suits my needs well enough — it’s not too big, and it runs off USB power. But every once in a while I start to see lines appear on my scans, and the resulting image files just look terrible. Here’s an example:

Throwing away your scanner is one option, but there are cheaper and more productive choices.

I’ve seen accounts of people who tossed their scanners because of this, but the problem can be solved by calibrating the scanner. Unfortunately, Canon buries the calibration feature deep within their not-so-great software, and the process of finding this feature is not at all intuitive. Nor does it appear to be documented.

I like helping my fellow human beings, so here’s a quick write-up of the six frustrating steps that I followed to calibrate my scanner (nine steps if you count downloading, installing, and opening the necessary software). This is for Mac OS X; Windows users, I feel your pain but you’re on your own here.

Before beginning, download and install Canon’s MP Explorer software. Here’s the link for other owners of CanoScan LiDE 700F scanners. If you have another model, Google your model name to find it on Canon’s website, then click the “Drivers & Software” link. Connect your scanner, install the software, and follow along at home.

1. Mouse over “Scan/Import” to reveal the necessary options.

Certainly this can't take very long.

2. Click the option to scan “Photos/Documents”.

Well, maybe it will take a little while.

3. Check the option to “Use the scanner driver”.

This is beginning to get ridiculous.

4. Performing the previous step causes the text in the green button to change from “Scan” to “Open the Scanner Driver”. Click the green button.

Oh, come on now.

5. We’re not there yet! Click the button that says “Preferences…”

This is insane.

6. Huzzah, we can finally calibrate the scanner. Click “Execute” next to the phrase “Platen Calibration”, which for some reason is followed by white space and then a lonely colon.

A pox on this interminable calibration process!

For best results, you might want to put a sheet of white paper on the scanner before calibrating.