How to Put 35MM Color Slides onto a Computer

By Mark Spowart

Updated September 22, 2017

Items you will need

  • 35mm slides

  • Antistatic cloth

  • Home computer

  • Flatbed or dedicated film/slide scanner

Save scanned 35mm slides as TIFF files for your original files.
i slides and loupe image by tim elliott from

To load your 35mm slides into your computer, you need to use a device known as a scanner. A scanner--either flatbed or dedicated film/slide--converts analog media, in this case a slide, to a digital file. Flatbed scanners are less expensive than dedicated film/slide scanners. While they provide good scans for the most amateur photographers, if you are scanning your slides to potentially market and sell them, you may want to invest in a dedicated film/slide scanner for the highest results.

Power on your computer and scanner and, if you haven’t already done so, install the scanner's software onto your computer. Once the software is installed, open the program by double-clicking the icon. Now is also a good time to create and name the folders you will scan your slides to.

Prepare and arrange your slides for scanning. Use an antistatic cloth to clean your slides and remove any dust that may have collected on them. You should also arrange your slides into categories that will be easily accessible once they are loaded onto your computer. Consider organizing your archive by the date they were shot, subject matter or the type of event you photographed.

Load your slides. Depending on the type of scanner you are using, you may have a slide carrier that will hold between four to six slides, or some scanners have a bulk loader, where you can place a larger number 25 or more slides into a holder and they are fed into the scanner. You can also place an individual slide onto the flatbed scanner platen. Once the slides have been loaded, commence the scan either by pressing the "Start" button on the scanner, or by clicking “Start” through the scanner's software.

Save the scanned images as TIFF files. TIFF files are typically larger and hold more information as a result of them not going through the compression component when saving JPEGs. Use the TIFF file as your original to make any changes or edits to, then save as JPEG for printing or emailing.


Another way to put your slides onto your computer is to use a digital camera to take a picture of your slides. You use a "slide duplicator" attachment for your camera, photograph the slide, then upload the new digital file to your computer.