How to Scan Old Pictures Onto a PC

By Cece Evans

Updated September 22, 2017

Items you will need

  • Flatbed scanner

  • Computer

  • Graphics editing software

An old photograph scanned into a digital image.
i old photo image by Aleksey Bakaleev from

Turning old photographs into digital images is an excellent way to preserve memories. Once digitized, you can use old photos in original ways, such as creating a slideshow or a video montage set to music. Another way that scanned old photos are useful is how easily you can share digital images. With email programs and social networking websites, you can share old photographs with friends and family members living far away.

Clean the scanner bed. Place the old photograph face down on the scanner glass and fold the top of the scanner down.

Open a graphics editing software program. Click on the "File" menu and select "Import." Another drop-down menu will appear to the right. Select the "from Scanner" option and choose your scanner. The program will display the brand name and model of the scanner. The program will open the scanner software, where you'll set the image quality and scanning options.

Set the desired image resolution. The higher the dpi (dots per inch), the higher the image quality--but also the larger the file size. Most computers and digital projectors cannot display more than 200-400 dpi, which is still small enough to email the images to people.

Set color options. Choose "Grayscale" for black-and-white images and "Color" for color photographs.

Press "Preview" and wait for an image to appear on the screen. The computer will scan in everything on the scanner bed and a small rectangle will appear. Move the rectangle over the photograph and drag the corners until it fits around the edges of your photograph.

Press "Scan" and wait. Everything within the square outline will appear as an image within your graphics editing program. You can make further adjustments at this point or just save the image.