how to scan photos

How To Scan Photos: Mastering the Art of Photo Scanning

A Guide to Digitizing Your Memories

Embarking on a journey to digitize your cherished memories is like unlocking a treasure trove of nostalgia. In a world constantly advancing in technology, the sentimental value of our physical photographs remains unmatched. This blog post serves as your guide, a roadmap through the process of photo scanning, where we explore the art of preserving the past in the digital realm. Whether you’re a novice seeking to immortalize your family album or a seasoned enthusiast aiming for the perfect digital archive, join us on this expedition as we uncover the secrets, techniques, and joy of transforming tangible moments into timeless pixels. Let’s dive into the fascinating world of photo scanning and unlock the door to a new era of memory preservation.

How to scan photos

  • First before you start, clean the glass of the scanner with soft, lint-free cloth.
  • Remove dust and debris from photos using a gentle brush or compressed air.
  • Organize photos based on how you would like to archive the photos so you can streamline the whole scanning process.

Configure Scanner Settings

Set the scanner resolution (DPI) based on your needs. Higher DPI (e.g., 600-2400) is ideal for preserving details and scanning a small photo for a bigger print, while lower DPI (e.g., 150-300) is suitable for sharing on the web or emailing to family and friends.

Understanding how DPI affects scanned photos is paramount for achieving optimal results in your digitization journey.

  • Resolution and Detail: Higher DPI settings result in greater image resolution and detail. When you scan a photo at a higher DPI, the scanner captures more information, allowing for a more faithful reproduction of the original. This is particularly important for preserving fine details such as textures, facial expressions, or intricate patterns.
  • Print Size: DPI also plays a role in determining the potential print size of a scanned photo. Higher DPI scans can be enlarged without sacrificing image quality. If you plan to print your scanned photos in larger formats, opting for a higher DPI setting during scanning is advisable.
  • File Size: Higher DPI scans typically result in larger file sizes. This is because more information is being captured per inch, leading to more pixels and, consequently, a larger file. Consider the storage capacity of your devices and the intended use of the scanned photos when choosing a DPI setting.
  • Editing Flexibility: Higher DPI scans provide greater flexibility during post-processing and editing. Whether you’re cropping, resizing, or making adjustments to color and exposure, a higher DPI original gives you more room to work with without compromising image quality.
  • Web Display vs. Print: The standard DPI for web display is often lower than that required for high-quality prints. If your scanned photos are primarily intended for online sharing, a moderate DPI might suffice. However, for archival purposes or if you plan to print the photos, a higher DPI is recommended.


In essence, the choice of DPI in photo scanning is a balance between capturing fine details and managing file sizes. Consider your specific needs, the intended use of the scanned images, and the capabilities of your scanner when determining the optimal DPI setting for your photo scanning project.


Preview Scans:

  • Take advantage of the scanner software’s preview feature before committing to the final scan. This step allows you to see a preview of how the scanned photos will appear and gives you the opportunity to make adjustments.
  • Use the cropping tool to define the scanning area for each photo precisely. This helps eliminate unnecessary borders or unwanted portions that might have been captured during the initial placement.
  • Adjust the rotation of photos as needed to ensure they are straight and aligned correctly. Crooked scans can be distracting and diminish the overall quality of the digitized image.
  • Check the settings for color mode, resolution (DPI), and file format to confirm they align with your preferences and the desired quality of the final scans.
  • If your scanner software allows, consider applying basic enhancements during the preview, such as adjusting brightness, contrast, or color balance. However, be cautious not to overdo it, as you can make further refinements later using photo editing software.
  • Take note of the file size for each scan during the preview. This can help you manage storage space and choose the most suitable resolution for your specific needs.
  • Once satisfied with the preview, proceed to initiate the final scan. If multiple photos are placed on the scanner bed, the software may prompt you to save each one separately or as a batch, depending on your preference.
  • Utilize the preview stage to efficiently organize and sequence your scans. This is particularly helpful when scanning a collection of photos with specific chronological or thematic order. Naming conventions and organization can be adjusted based on the visual arrangement in the preview.
  • Regularly check the preview screen for any anomalies, artifacts, or issues that may affect the scan quality. Addressing these before the final scan ensures that your digitized photos meet the desired standards.


Scan the Photos:

Save scanned images in a preferred format (e.g., TIFF, JPEG, or PNG) and designate a location on your computer.


Choose Image Format:

When deciding on the format to save your scanned photos, consider the characteristics of each:

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format), JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group), and PNG (Portable Network Graphics) are three popular image file formats, each with its own characteristics and best-use scenarios. Understanding the differences between these formats is crucial for making informed decisions when saving or sharing images.


  • TIFF (Tagged Image File Format):

    • Compression: TIFF files can be either uncompressed or use lossless compression. The uncompressed option retains all image details but results in larger file sizes, making it suitable for high-quality prints or archiving.
    • Color Depth: Supports various color depths, including grayscale and CMYK. This flexibility makes TIFF suitable for professional printing and image editing.
    • Transparency: Can support transparency, but not as commonly as PNG.


  • JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group):

    • Compression: Uses lossy compression, meaning some image data is discarded to reduce file size. This compression results in smaller file sizes but may lead to a loss of image quality, especially with high compression ratios.
    • Color Depth: Ideal for photographs and images with gradients. JPEG is well-suited for web use and sharing on social media due to its smaller file sizes.
    • Transparency: Does not support transparency.


  • PNG (Portable Network Graphics):

    • Compression: Uses lossless compression, retaining all image data without sacrificing quality. PNG files are larger than JPEG but smaller than uncompressed TIFF.
    • Color Depth: Supports a wide range of color depths, including truecolor with alpha transparency. Ideal for images with sharp edges, logos, and graphics.
    • Transparency: Supports alpha channel transparency, making it suitable for images with transparent backgrounds.


Key Considerations:

  • Use Case: Choose the format based on the intended use of the image. TIFF is often used in professional printing and archiving, JPEG for web and casual sharing, and PNG for images with transparency or sharp details.
  • File Size: Consider the balance between file size and image quality. TIFF files are larger but maintain quality, while JPEG sacrifices some quality for smaller sizes.
  • Transparency: If transparency is crucial, PNG is the preferred choice, as neither JPEG nor TIFF commonly support transparent backgrounds.


In summary, the choice between TIFF, JPEG, and PNG depends on the specific requirements of your project, including the type of image, intended use, and the importance of file size and image quality. Each format has its strengths, and understanding these differences allows you to make informed decisions based on your needs.


Check Scan Quality:

  • Review each scanned image for clarity, color accuracy, and any artifacts.
  • Rescan photos if needed, adjusting settings as necessary.


By following these steps, you can efficiently and effectively scan your old photos, preserving cherished memories for generations to come.

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