How to Scan & Save Old Printed Photos to Your Smartphone

Believe it or not, there was a time when smartphones weren't the primary tool for taking photos. People actually walked around with bulky film-based cameras on their necks, and some even used cheap disposables. While photography wasn't introduced to the world when smartphones came out, it's definitely more accessible—and everyone is a photographer now.

Our phones can archive thousands of new memories in pictures and videos, but how do we salvage all the old ones that existed before smartphones? We can't jump in a time machine to recapture those precious moments, but we can use our smartphones to scan/save some of those printed memories.

Scanning Tips

Before you get started with any of following Android and iOS apps, it's good for you to know some simple tips that'll get you the best results.

First, ensure that your lighting is good; if it isn't, your camera will attempt to compensate and produce grainy images or glares that will show up in the scan. Additionally, hold your device parallel to the image(s) you're "scanning," which will make the cropping process easier.

Now that you're ready, check out which apps we found to be most useful for scanning and archiving printed photographs.

Pic Scanner for iPhones

If you're using an iPhone, the app I'll be suggesting is Pic Scanner from developer App Initio Limited, available for free in the iOS App Store.

Unlike most image-scanning apps, Pic Scanner offers a more convenient feature that allows users to scan and save up to four printed images at once, while also automatically cropping them for you.

Just keep in mind that scanning more than one image at a time will reduce the quality of each image scanned. So for higher-quality images, do them each one by one.

Heirloom for Android

Pic Scanner isn't available for Android, but that doesn't mean you're out of luck. For anyone wanting to use their Android device to scan photos, take a look at Heirloom. The app is also available on the iOS App Store in case you end up liking this one better, iPhone users.

The good thing about Heirloom is that pictures are easily captured even if your angle isn't great, just make sure that the app can view the borders of the photo. Adjustments can also be easily made after scanning your picture.

These apps are strictly for photos; if you want to scan other types of documents and store them to the cloud, take a look at our Microsoft Lens guide.

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