The Best Way to Convert Slides to Digital Images

by Brandon Getty

As the digital format gradually usurps 35mm film as the dominant photographic medium, most people are packing away their old negative slides for good. However, the memories that these slides hold do not have to be forgotten. Sharp, high resolution digital files can be created from your slides with the help of a flatbed scanner and a negative adapter. Before beginning to process your slides, check that your scanner is able to scan transparent materials.

Clean away any dust or debris from your slides using an air blower and a microfiber cloth. Avoid using canned air as the chemicals may damage the film.

Power on the scanner, open the lid and remove the plastic negative adapter from the scanner. Check that the scanner is connected to your computer via USB cable.

Open the negative adapter's hinge and place the slides in the individual holding slots. Close the hinge over the slides to hold them securely in place.

Place the loaded negative adapter on the scanning glass. Placement on the glass varies among scanners, but there are usually instructive diagrams located near the edges of the adapter. If necessary, refer to your scanner's instructional literature for detailed guidelines.

Close the lid and press the "Scan" button on the scanner's control panel. The rest of the scanning procedure will be performed from your computer screen.

Select the type of media you're scanning (positive slide film) from the prompt window that appears on your screen. Also choose the desired resolution (measured in dots per inch or dpi) file format (.JPG, .TIFF, .PNG) and location where you'd like the file to be saved. Click "OK" or "Scan" at the bottom of the window to begin scanning.

View your digital images by browsing to the saved location you selected in the above step.


  • check Once your slides have been digitized, you can email them to friends and family, upload them to your favorite social networking site or have prints made.
  • check Clean your scanner's glass regularly with a mild window cleaner and a microfiber cloth for best results.

Items you will need

About the Author

Brandon Getty began writing professionally in 2008, with columns appearing in "Thrasher" magazine. He received a Bachelor of Arts in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and lives in Stockton, Calif.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera NA/ Images