How to Transfer 35mm Slides to a PC

By Editorial Team

Updated July 21, 2017

Scanning slides digitizes them for computer storage.
i slides and loupe image by tim elliott from <a href=''></a>

35 mm slides were a popular way of developing pictures into a format that could be projected onto a screen. The rise in digital technologies over the past few decades has made the slide and slide-projector technology obsolete. Converting old 35 mm slides into a digital format is a straightforward process, provided you have the appropriate hardware -- in this case a film scanner. Flatbed scanners often cannot scan in as high a resolution as film scanners, and should be considered a second choice.

Purchase or rent a film scanner. This is a scanner that specializes in sending film images to the computer for digital conversion, rather than a flatbed scanner, which works better with developed photos.

Connect the scanner to the computer and install the necessary software. Generally this will be a scanner driver, as well as a proprietary scanning program, and will come on a disc with the scanner. After installation turn the scanner on.

Wipe down the slides before scanning by rubbing them gently with a smooth cloth. This will reduce the dust and scratches, which can look quite pronounced when dealing with small 35 mm slides.

Fit the slides into the plastic tray and snap it shut. Load the tray into the front of the machine, just until the machine registers the tray and pulls it in slightly. A green LED indicator light may flash once the tray has been inserted properly.

Launch the scanning program on the computer and indicate that you will be scanning slides (as opposed to film negative). Often there will be a box to check off in the program window. Press "Preview" in the program to being the scan. The scanner will begin analyzing the slide.

Preview the scanned slides in the program window. Use the cropping tool (dashed-line box) and drag it around the image you wish to scan. Once you have finished, press "Scan." The machine will then scan a high-resolution scan of the slide.

Save the file onto your computer by naming it and clicking "Save" in the pop-up window. Be sure to save the image in a high-quality format like TIFF or a less compressed JPEG.