Best scanner app for photos

We’re downsizing and moving soon, and I have a couple of boxes of old family photos I’d like to digitize. I don’t really want to buy another piece of hardware (goes against the downsizing idea) so I’m wondering if there is a decent photo scanner I can get for my iPhone.

Any recommendations?

I’ve used Apple Notes for this with great success. I’ve got a blog post about the details.

I used my Fujitsu IX500 document scanner to scan photos using the maximum resolution it allows. Not the best quality I can get from other purposed built photo scanner but it is something I have on hand. At least the scanner speed is very fast if there are a lot of photos.

The trick is to sort them out into the same size for better handling

I scanned a bunch of old photos with my Fujitsu S1500 and got acceptable results. Took one of the pictures and printed it on a photo printer. Could just barely tell which was which.

If you don’t want to buy hardware check out your local library. Many have good scanners to use. You could also use one of the scanning services.

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True, and I hadn’t thought of that. I know when scanning documents with my iPhone I often get weird shadows.

That’s a great tip, thank you!

Thanks! I hadn’t thought of Apple Notes, but I’ll check that out.

Good tip. I’ll do that first, no matter which way I go. Thanks!

Not really, you have to set up a copy stand with a tripod and clean even lighting to make any camera based copy system work and that will cost more than a good decent flatbed scanner.

If they are all flat prints then any decent modern flatbed scanner will work. Any scanner that does automatic feeding is prone to problems with old photos especially as the thickness and wrinkles often cause feed faults. I’ve never been successful using any automatic feed scanner to get good archival scans of old photos.

Be sure to properly clean the photos before scanning. Invest in a couple of pairs of lint free cotton gloves and some wipes appropriate for your photo types. This is a do it once and forget it issue so it pays to be more meticulous than just a quick scan of some papers.

Play with the resoolutions on the scanner software to find the balance between file size and resolution. I’d err on the side of maximum resolution you can get rather than small files especially since you’ll be destroying the pictures afterwards.

I’ve had good luck with Epson scanners of all varieties. When you are done you can sell the scanner.

Scanning services can also be a good choice but I would not use any that send your photos overseas for scanning.

Thinnk about the metadata you want to capture as you scan and have a plan for how to catalog the photos later.


I face a similar need to digitize photos. I’m thinking about using a scanning service but haven’t done that yet. This is one that I’m considering (but don’t have firsthand info on).

sample pricing from the website
Photo Scanning - 49¢ per scan
Standard Printed Photos up to 8x10 at 600 dpi.
Photo Scanning at 1200 dpi - 89¢ per scan
Standard Printed Photos up to 8x10 at 1200 dpi. Produces 4 times as many pixels as a 600 dpi scan.

“DigMyPics is located in Gilbert, Arizona where we process photos, slides, film, 8mm home movies, and video tapes from across the United States and around the world. All work is performed at our offices in AZ”

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You can get a flatbed scanner fairly cheaply and then sell it when you’re done. Even a low end model will generally do a better job than your phone, mostly due to lighting issues as already described. Also, using your phone, the auto-detection and correction of each photo won’t be perfect so you might get some weird extra bits and some distortion.

Assuming the photos you have are prints, it should be a relatively easy job. The hardest part will be all the manual labour of putting them on and taking them off. I’ve used the Epson Scan 2 software which does a decent job of detecting each print and scanning it independently. I would assume other brands’ software would have the same capability, but it might be worth a little research if necessary.

If you do get a scanner, experiment with settings on a few photos first to see if you like the results. I just got some prints from Mum from our family holidays when I was a teen — photos I was keen to get hold of — but I need to fiddle with the settings because of the non-gloss, textured finish, which shows up as obvious dots on the scan. I suspect I need to scan them with either much higher or somewhat lower resolution.

Although you say you do not want archival quality, I do recommend you think carefully about the settings you use. You can always easily downsize larger scans for general use, but if you scan it small and later want something bigger, it’s a lot less flexible. Again, experimentation will help you out here.

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I would urge you to spend the extra time/resources now to get high-quality scans of your photos.

Whether you outsource them or buy a dedicated scanner, I think you’ll be glad in the long-run.

Nevertheless, if you really just want an iOS app (and you’re not anti-Google), this one works well. It blends five captures of your photo to create a clear, glare-free, “scan” of the original.


There already are so many good tips in this topic.

I only want to add one thing: do not throw your photos away after you have digitized them. Just don’t! Those boxes are worthy to be stored. :blush:


That was my top candidate when I looked and I did an extensive comparison. I ended up buying a slide scanner that uses a digital camera since most of my stuff was actually slides in various formats. For negatives I used a flatbed scanner. I have very few prints tht I don’t have in some other film format just a bunch of really old ones and they wil be scanned on a flatbed.

Depending on how your photos are stored in the moment, I would think about this twice!
If they are in a kind of an order like the place or occasion, or simply the time when they were taken, it would take a lot of more time to sort them back into this order after scanning, than it takes you to scan different formats.

If only they were that organized! Picture a couple of shoeboxes with Poloroid snapshots of my parents in Las Vegas in 1970, faded sepia-toned prints circa 1920, my high-school grad photo from 1984, and every size and shape and era in between.

I did find out that my local library has a high-speed scanner (thanks to whoever suggested checking with them). I’ll be heading over there to see if that might be a useful solution.

Thanks. Which model slide scanner did you get?

A slidesnap pro

Paired it with a camera we already had and my micro nikkor macro lens for superior and fast scans. With over 30K slides to scan this was the one that made the most sense for me.

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