Scan Old Photos with PhotoScan

Introducing Photoscan

Not long ago I was introduced to a great little app called PhotoScan by Google. I have found it to be very useful, so I want to share it with my readers. PhotoScan was introduced in November 2016. The app is free and allows you to use your Apple or Android mobile device to capture old photo prints or even documents. PhotoScan works with Google Photos to keep your photos in one place, too. Plus, Google Photos has other great editing tools that help you get the picture just how you want it.

The app description states:

PhotoScan is a new scanner app from Google Photos that lets you scan and save your favorite printed photos using your phone’s camera.

Picture perfect and glare free

Don’t just take a picture of a picture. Create enhanced digital scans, wherever your photos are.

– Get glare-free scans with an easy step-by-step capture flow
– Automatic cropping based on edge detection
– Straight, rectangular scans with perspective correction
– Smart rotation, so your photos stay right-side-up no matter which way you scan them

My own experience using this app has been positive.

Old Way

A couple months ago I visited my mother and she had some great old photos out. I put them on the coffee table and used my iPad camera to take photos of the photos. The resulting images were OK, but it was a challenge to snap a picture without glare from the glass. Some photos turned out better than others. Also, later, I had to crop the corners and the resulting image was not rectangular. So I definitely had experienced the negative aspects mentioned in the product description. Below are some of the photos I took that day.


My grandmother, Ruby Louise (Crouse) Jarman

My grandmother, Louise, with her son, Doug, and niece. Oh, and a duck.

My grandparents and both sets of great-grandparents at Thanksgiving.

My grandparents, Bob & Louise Jarman

Now I wish I could take them again using PhotoScan.

New Way

I took a few photos with PhotoScan to show you the process. For example, here I am sporting my Spider-man pajamas on Christmas morning. The upholstery and the Lite-Brite my brother is using may help you date the photo! 🙂

  1. Open the app
  2. Place the photo within the frame and snap a picture
  3. Move the device so the circle is over the 4 white dots on the screen (this helps eliminate glare, and finds the edges to autocrop)
  4. Save

Taken using iPhone camera only

4 dots appear. Move the circle over each dot.

Final result using PhotoScan

My favorite feature is how fast it is to capture old photos (or documents) and crop them. However, I have found that by default it tends to "wash out" the image. I hope this is something that improves in the future. Of course, Google Photos has a lot of options for editing and adjusting the image, but to me the whole point is to make it easy. If you are trying to get the "perfect"' digital representation of your photos, I recommend using a photo scanner from Kodak. However, those are very expensive. For the rest of us, wanting to tackle that seemingly monumental task of digitizing those photo albums or shoe boxes, PhotoScan is a good option.

Do you have a favorite app for capturing old photos and documents? Tell us about it!

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  1. Robie Smith


    Actually David, the picture you labeled as Grandma Jarman with her siblings is incorrect. It is actually her with Uncle Doug and our Cousin Vicki Hunt. Just thought I would set the recor straight. Love you and all that you are doing to make geneology easier. Now, if only I could get it NOW for my Android!

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