Scanning Your Pictures

What We'll Learn

  1. Specific steps in the photo scanning process
  2. Adjusting DPI based on photo size

Scanning Each Photo

When you scan your photos, there are number of steps you need to think about. What size is the photo? When was the photo taken? What's the best way to preserve this in my photo library?

In this tutorial we are going to go through each of the steps in detail.


Before scanning your photo, do the following steps:
  1. Try to determine the date of the photo. If you are lucky, there may be a date written on the back or some notation somewhere. Otherwise, try to figure it out from the context, either within the picture or if it is part of another series of pictures. It's not necessary to get the exact date, but ideally the year in the month is helpful. We will use this information when we store the photo. 
  2. Make sure the photo is clean. Gently remove dirt and dust from the photo before you scan, be careful not to damage the photo further. Previously damaged photos should also be scanned as soon as possible to preserve their existing quality. You can always digitally edit the photo and repair it at a later date.
  3. Start up your scanning program.


Use these steps to scan your photo:
  1. Place the photo on the scanner. Make sure the photo is right side up and align with the scanner corner edge to ensure the photo is straight.
  2. Check the DPI (dots per inch). The setting should be appropriate for the size of the photo. Our recommendation is 600 dpi for 4 x 6 photos, 1200 dpi for smaller photos, and 300 dpi for 8 x 10 and larger.
  3. Do a scan preview. This will show you where the photo was located in the overall scanning area.
  4. Set the scan area to be cropped to the size of the photo.
  5. Scan the photo.


After your photo is scanned, use the steps to quickly document it in your library:
  1. Record the date. In Picasa, you can set the original date for the photo as follows:
    1. Select the photo.
    2. Choose Adjust Date/Time from the Tools menu.
    3. Set the New Photo Date to the closest date you can determine for this photo. 
    4. Click OK
  2. Review your photo. Follow the suggestions in our Photo Review Tips tutorial.
  3. Add Name Tags. Document any people in the photograph. Refer to the Adding Name Tags tutorial for detailed instructions.
  4. Organize and document storage folders. Use an appropriately named folder for your scanned photos and transfer them to your Photo Library. Refer to the Organizing Your Photos topics for additional help.