Tips on Scanning Photos to Reprint

By Sara Gentry

Old photos can be revived and reprinted with the help of proper scanning and editing.
i photos image by danimages from

If you're scanning your photos to share them by e-mail or make an online album, the quality of your scan might not be as important to you as it is when scanning to make prints. Scanners are particularly handy when making copies of old, damaged, faded or one-of-a-kind photos. Using photo-editing software, you can restore these photos and save them in high-resolution versions capable of a high-quality print. They can be copied and framed for gifts or become part of crafty, handmade family trees and calendars.

Use Your Preview

In order to account for human, scanner or computer error, the scanner does a quick, initial pre-scan that is displayed so that the user can make adjustments or cancel the scan. Although the quality won't be as high and the picture won't be as fine as the final scan, you'll be able to check for dust, lint and hairs and whether the original needs to be straightened.

Choose a Higher Resolution

For a good print that is no smaller than the original photo, choose a resolution of at least 300 dpi. The resolution affects how clear and sharp your image will print; if the resolution is too low, the image will be blurry or pixelated. Some scanners will scan at an even higher resolution, and the photos can be enlarged that way. Photos scanned at 72 to 100 dpi are only suitable for e-mail or Internet viewing.

Choose TIFF

JPEG files are OK for e-mailing and posting on Web sites, but their compressed file size isn't optimal for printing. Saving your image as a TIFF preserves detail and maximizes quality. A TIFF can be converted to a smaller and more compact JPEG, but a TIFF can't be produced from a JPEG.

Take Advantage of Extra Space

If the photo you're scanning is smaller than 8" by 10" try scanning more than one photo at the same time. When the scan is complete, crop one out, save it and then go back to the original scan and do the same with the others. If you only need a small portion of a larger photo, such as a headshot from a full-length image, use the Preview function to scan only the part you want.

Correct Manually

Once you've got the image you want, don't automatically choose to auto-correct it; it might not improve the quality.