Easy way to scan photos and picture albums

Scanning old family photos and albums can take a Herculean effort. Even if you are tech-savvy and have all the paraphernalia (a desktop scanner, computer, Photoshop), it can take weeks or months to scan, crop, edit, label and organize photos spanning many decades.

But there are easier ways too…

Photo scanning services

You could “outsource” this task to a photo scanning service They will scan photos and put them on CDs or DVDs for you. However, you can’t just send them your albums: You will need to take photos out of albums, sort by size, flat-pack and courier them. It will then take a week or more to get your original and scanned photos back, and you will then need to put photos back into your albums, and organize and caption the scans. The scan quality will generally be very good. Check on the internet to find out which photo scanning services are available in your country, and how much they charge. Do read their terms and conditions carefully.

Scan photos yourself…there are apps for it!

A faster and easier option to scan photos is to use an iPhone or iPad and a photo scanner app. The apps we will discuss here are: Pic Scanner, Pic Scanner Gold and Photo Scanner Premium.

Pic Scanner is a simple yet powerful app. It is ideal for quickly scanning photos, especially if you have an older model iPhone or iPad. The app lets you scan and auto-crop multiple photos at a time, perform basic edits, create albums and add captions for in-app viewing. It also lets you freely share and save photos to Photos app, Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox etc. Pic Scanner costs US$1.99 for unlimited use [Website] [App Store link]

Pic Scanner Gold is a much advanced version of Pic Scanner. It does everything Pic Scanner does, plus it can scan photos at higher resolution, has a  powerful 19-tool editor, lets you import pictures from Photos app for pooling with scanned ones. It can also convert photos into slideshows, e-greeting cards and shareable albums; and allows many more ways to share and save photos. It costs US$4.99 for unlimited use. [Website] [App Store link]

Photo Scanner Premium is identical to Pic Scanner Gold, but is priced differently. Initially, a US99¢ download allows 24 scans and use of all features. Once you have tried out the app and decide you like it, you can upgrade to unlimited version for US$4.99 [App Store link]

Advantages of these apps: 1) Far less expensive than other alternatives. 2)  High quality scans, as long as you follow the in-app scanning tips. 3) Fast: No need to remove photos from albums. 4) Photos don’t leave your home: No risk of loss or damage in transit.

Scanning photos ensures they are preserved for future generations, and also makes them easy to enjoy and share. It can be a rewarding, fun exercise. Take a trip down nostalgia lane!

Yes, There Were Pics Before Pixels


Life Before Digital Cameras

Remember life before digital cameras? It wasn’t so long ago that:

  • Before boarding the plane for an exotic vacation, packing enough rolls of film was as important as packing the passport.
  • You worried endlessly whether those X-Ray scanners at airports were really film-safe.
  • There were no instant previews. If a photo was overexposed or underexposed, or your eyes were half-closed, it was just too bad.
  • Reloading film outdoors involved either a changing bag, or cupped hands in a shaded place.
  • It was days, often weeks before you got to see your photos.
  • Sharing photos meant putting them in an envelope and posting them.
  • You fussed about ASA and DIN as you now do about megapixels.
  • Editing, cropping and applying filters was only for professionals.

And be honest: How many times did you mix up exposed rolls of film with unused ones?

Bringing Old Photos into the Digital Era


Digital photography has made things simpler and made the finer nuances of photography (such as editing, filters, using meta data etc.) accessible to everyone. But a lot of our old memories now languish, unseen and forgotten, in shoe boxes and picture albums.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have all your photos – old and new – in one place? Like in the palm of your hand? Well, you could if your old photographs were all scanned and catalogued. Are they? Chances are they’re not. How many times have you thought about sorting and scanning them, but never got round to it because it’s too tedious?

Preserving and organizing those forgotten, fading memories is now easy. No, it doesn’t involve bulky desktop scanners or complicated photo editing software. Nor will it take weeks of work. Now you can just do it with an iPhone or iPad! And an app.

Pic Scanner App For iPhone and iPad
Pic Scanner Blog
Pic Scanner is an easy-to-use app that lets you digitize up to four photo prints at a time. It then automatically separates and saves them as individual images.

The app also includes tools for basic editing tasks, as well as options for enhancing, captioning, organizing and sharing pictures.

Pic Scanner has won accolades from Cult of Mac, The Guardian, iPad Insight, Gizmodo and many other highly-regarded reviewers. BBC’s flagship technology program ‘Click’ also showcased it.

The full-featured trial version of Pic Scanner can be downloaded here. This free evaluation version allows 12 scans and 12 opportunities to share photos. And if you decide to upgrade, unlimited scanning and sharing only costs $2.99.

Digitizing gives old photographs a new life. It is the best way to preserve those rare, one-of-a-kind moments of your personal history. And there’s a lot you can do with digital photos. But let’s save that for another post.

“Put away the desktop scanner” Says AppAdvice


Are the days of the trusty old desktop scanner numbered? Here’s what AppAdvice has to say:

“Almost everyone uses their mobile devices or digital cameras for snapping photos nowadays. But, what about all of those pictures you have in that shoe box, physical album, or even the drawer? Baby pictures, wedding photos, or family vacation shots from when you were a child are precious. With Pic Scanner you can quickly scan and then edit, save, and share them just as easily as the photos you take now.”

Read the full article here.

AppAdvice is a respected resource on the Web for people looking to discover iOS apps. They filter and vet the 1,500,000+ apps in the App Store to bring their readers up to date on news regarding apps, as well as providing detailed app reviews.

Pic Scanner offers portability, speed and convenience, and you can instantly post those legacy photographs on Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or the many other sharing and archiving options bundled within the app. You can even digitize directly from picture albums – no need to go through the hassle of taking out fragile pics, and putting them back in afterwards. A little better than the old fashioned “scan on desktop scanner and crop on computer” method!

To be fair, a desktop scanner can give you very high quality (600-1200 PPI) scans, TIF files and more. But do you really need those? Do you need to make six-by-four foot prints? Do you really want to store a thousand 30 MB photos on your computer? Can you always have your desktop scanner at hand whenever you want to scan photos? If not, go with the scanner you always have on you – in your pocket (iPhone) or the palm of your hand (iPad). And Pic Scanner app. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.


Pic Scanner on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter

Pic Scanner is now also on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.


Find us on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/picscanner, Facebook at www.facebook.com/picscanner and Twitter at @PicScanner. Follow us for tips and tricks on using Pic Scanner, and also much more on the theme of fun with retro photographs, posters and other scannables.

Making your family tree

I sometimes wonder whether the idea of family trees comes from us descending from apes descending from trees. Luckily, most family trees go back only a few generations, and making those is hard enough. The longest family tree in the world, according to Wikipedia, is that of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551–479 BC), a descendant of King Tang (1675–1646 BC). This tree spans some 80 generations, and includes more than 2 million members.

If you haven’t ever made your family tree, try it. It’s a lot of fun. Start with your siblings, parents and grandparents’ names, birth, marriage and death dates.

It gets harder as you progress to older generations. Older relatives may have information about ancestors. See if anyone else had made a family tree earlier, and collaborate. Online resources such as Ancestry, FamilySearch, RootsChat, MyHeritage, FindMyPast and census records contain valuable clues. Parish records and obituaries also offer reliable information. Marriages, divorces, remarriages and adoptions add complexity in family trees.

Once you have the basic outline going back a few generations, comes the fun part. Use one of the many online family tree maker tools to convert your data into a graphical representation. Share it with relatives, asking them to add other details and chip in with photographs. Set up a family photos folder on Flickr, Picasa, Dropbox or any such website, where family members can share scanned photos. Scanning old photos is incredibly easy and fast with Pic Scanner app for iPhone and iPad. Digitizing not only helps preserve those one-of-a-kind, heirloom photos, it also makes them shareable.

After scanning, you may want to give all the photos a uniform look. This is done easily by using filters. Pic Scanner has a small but useful set of retro-themed filters: B&W, sepia, montage, vignette etc. Also, crop, adjust sizes and aspect ratios if you wish – then print.

What do you do once you have your family tree and a folder full of scanned, sharable photos?

If you want to make a pictorial family tree wall, the easy way is to buy a self-adhesive tree (or branches and leaves) decal. Search on Amazon and Etsy – both offer plenty of designs.

You could also make family history books, personalized greeting cards for special occasions, family tree posters. Or try craft projects and activities for family gatherings (Our Facebook and Pinterest pages have lots of ideas and tutorials.)

Here’s an example of something you could make quite easily:


And here’s a century-old example of a family tree gone nuts: