How to Scan Slides With a Flatbed Scanner

By Editorial Team

Updated September 22, 2017

Items you will need

  • Slides

  • Flatbed scanner with film scanning capability

  • Adobe Photoshop or other photo editing program

If you are an artist with an archive of slides in your portfolio, or someone with a number of slides that need to be preserved, scanning and digitizing them is a great way to extend their life. It is also very handy to have your slides available digitally, as you can quickly reproduce, print or email your images as needed. Scanning them yourself will save you a lot of money on lab fees. It is not too difficult, provided you have the right equipment and follow these steps.

Open your photo editing program and locate your flatbed scanner. This will usually be under the “File” menu of your editing program. Select the name of your scanner. A pop-up window will open with your scanner’s tool interface.

Line up your slide scanning device in accordance to the particular scanner you have. Most flatbed scanners come with a removable device used just for scanning slides and negatives.

Place your slide in the "Film Guide." If your guide has numbers on it, make note of the placement of your slide. If you scanner comes with a special film adapter unit, place it over the slide. Otherwise, securely close your scanner's lid.

Go back to your scanning window and choose the correct film type to achieve the right kind of scan. You are looking for a location where you can choose to “Select Source.” Choose “Color Positive Film” if your slide is in color or “Black and White Positive Film” if your slide is in black and white.

Locate the area where you can choose your “Color Mode.” You can choose to scan the slide in either “Color” or “Grayscale” depending on your needs.

Choose an output resolution. If your intention is to make prints from your scanned slides, you will want a higher resolution such as 300 dpi or more. If you intend to use your images online or on a website, your resolution should be 72 dpi.

Select the number your slide is located on your removable device, if applicable.

Select “Preview” to see a quick scan. Make sure your slide is correctly placed and that it is straight in your "Film Guide."

Click on “Scan” when your settings are complete. Once your scan is complete, it is important to save your image right away before making any additional adjustments.


If you connected a scanner to your computer using a USB port, your computer will likely prompt you to install the hardware driver. This is easy to do following the steps your computer provides. If your slides are mounted in plastic or cardboard, you may need to remove them from the casing to get a proper read and quality scan.