Skip to content
Python binding for the Sane API (using ctypes) and abstration layers
Find file
Latest commit a9731ee @jflesch examples/ On some scanners, you can't select the source
Signed-off-by: Jerome Flesch <>



Python implementation of the Sane API (using ctypes) and abstration layer.

The code is divided in 3 layers:

  • rawapi : Ctypes binding to the raw Sane API
  • abstract : An Object-Oriented layer that simplifies the use of the Sane API and try to avoid possible misuse of the Sane API. When scanning, it also takes care of returning a Pillow image.
  • abstract_th : The Sane API is not thread-safe and cannot be used in a multi-threaded environment easily. This layer solves this problem by using a fully dedicated thread.


libsane Pillow (if the abstraction layer is used)


$ sudo pip install pyinsane


$ git clone
$ cd pyinsane
$ sudo python ./ install

Unit tests

$ python ./

Unit tests require at least one scanner with a flatbed and an ADF (Automatic Document Feeder).

If possible, they should be run with at least 2 scanners connected. The first that appear in "scanimage -L" must be the one with the ADF.

My current setup:

  • HP Officejet 4500 G510g (Flatbed + ADF)
  • HP Deskjet 2050 J510 series (Flatbed)


Scanner detection

import pyinsane.abstract as pyinsane

devices = pyinsane.get_devices()
assert(len(devices) > 0)
device = devices[0]

print("I'm going to use the following scanner: %s" % (str(device)))
scanner_id =

or if you already know its name/id:

import pyinsane.abstract as pyinsane

device = pyinsane.Scanner(name="somethingsomething")
print("I'm going to use the following scanner: %s" % (str(device)))

Simple scan

device.options['resolution'].value = 300
# Beware: Some scanner have "Lineart" or "Gray" as default mode
device.options['mode'].value = 'Color'
scan_session = device.scan(multiple=False)
    while True:
except EOFError:
image = scan_session.images[0]

Multiple scans using an automatic document feeder (ADF)

if not "ADF" in device.options['source'].constraint:
    print("No document feeder found")

device.options['source'].value = "ADF"
# Beware: Some scanner have "Lineart" or "Gray" as default mode
device.options['mode'].value = 'Color'
scan_session = device.scan(multiple=True)
    while True:
        except EOFError:
            print ("Got a page ! (current number of pages read: %d)"
                   % (len(scan_session.images)))
except StopIteration:
    print("Document feeder is now empty. Got %d pages"
          % len(scan_session.images))
for idx in range(0, len(scan_session.images)):
    image = scan_session.images[idx]


import pyinsane.abstract_th as pyinsane

# When imported, it will start a new thread, dedicated to Sane.
# Its API is the same than for pyinsane.abstract. You can use it the
# same way.
# Note however that the Sane thread can only do one thing at a time,
# so some function call may be on hold on a semaphore for some times.

Other examples

The folder 'examples' contains more detailed examples. For instance, examples/ shows how to get pieces of a scan as it goes.

To run one of these scripts, run:

python -m examples.[script] [args]

For instance

python -m examples.scan toto.png


GPL v3 2012(c) Jerome Flesch (

Something went wrong with that request. Please try again.