Speed Scanning

with 33 Comments

Nannette-200I have been working on my grandfather’s history, and part of that process involves scanning a lot of photos. I don’t know about you, but that is not my favorite thing to do! However, the alternative of letting those photos continue to fade and die a slow death is not something I want either.

Scanning can be very tedious and time consuming. Lucky for us, Photoshop and Photoshop Elements have a way to speed up the process a bit.

Here is a lazy way to scan faster.

Step One: Scan Your Photos

  • Place as many photos as will fit on your scanner bed. Make sure that you leave a gap between the images. Don’t worry about making them super straight.
  • Place a piece of black paper over the photos.
  • Using your scanning software, scan the images as color .jpg images at 300 dpi.
  • Save the scanned photos to your computer.


Step Two: Open and Crop the Photos

  • Open (File > Open) your saved photos .jpg file.
  • In the Menu Bar, choose Image > Divide Scanned Photos. (Photoshop: Choose File > Automate > Crop and Straighten Photos.)


All your photos should be neatly cropped and straitened for you. If it fails, try rescanning with more space between the photos. I also discovered that it did not work well if I had the Crop tool activated. Try activating the Move tool before you run the automation.

Step Three: Rotate and Save

If your pictures are turned the wrong direction, you may want to rotate them before saving.

  • In the Menu Bar, choose Image > Rotate > 90° Left or 90° Right. (Photoshop: Choose Image > Image Rotation > 90° CW or 90° CCW.)
  • Save (File > Save) each individual file.

Isn’t being lazy great?

Download this Digi Scrap Tutorial

33 Responses

  1. Iris
    | Reply

    Thanks! That was such a lightbulb moment for me!

  2. Kathy
    | Reply

    Awesome TUT! And timely. I am about to scan lots of old photos. 🙂

  3. Annette
    | Reply

    My daughter gave me books and books of photos to scan. I have one book left and can’t wait to try your method. Thanks

  4. Jen (rfeewjlj)
    | Reply

    This is pure genius! I had no idea you could do this in either program!! Awesome tut!

  5. Mungo
    | Reply

    A brilliant idea, thank you for sharing it – yes scanning is tedious

  6. Kim
    | Reply

    I cannot wait to try this! Thanks so much!

  7. Janine
    | Reply

    Thank you so much Nann – this is fabulous. I have tons of photos to scan and this will save me many hours..

    • Nann
      | Reply

      Oh good, I’m so glad. Important but tedious work for sure.

  8. ScrappingJoy
    | Reply

    My husband just scanned several albums of heritage pictures page by page. This will be a wonderful tool to separate all of those pictures, I thought I would be cropping and straightening each picture individually. The background color of the pages was black so that works great. I used this feature this morning to crop pictures that had a white background and i couldn’t believe how fast it worked. . Thanks, for the tip!!!

  9. Renee
    | Reply

    Nann – this is awesome. Thanks so much for reminding me about this feature. I have scanned a lot of pictures lately. I just tried this out, and yes do be sure to leave spaces between the pictures or it will group them together as one. Thanks so much 🙂

  10. junire
    | Reply

    Wow! Thank you! I didn’t realize how effectively I could do this using PSE. I’ve been doing … one…at…a…time. augh! Yow yow yow!

  11. Judy D.
    | Reply

    You have no idea how happy this made me. I have laboriously been doing one picture at a time. Watch me go now!!! Thank you.

  12. Trudi
    | Reply

    This is wonderful!! I am new to all the digital stuff and am just starting to scan (one at a time) all of my old photos. This will be a time saver!! Thank you!!

  13. Barbara
    | Reply

    Thanks so much Nann for this swesome tutorial. I have used Photo Elements and didn’t realize this was available. I have plenty of scanned photo’s and this worked. Some didn’t but they were really close. I will be using this tip and it will be a real time saver. I will watch when I scan too to space more. Thanks again.

    • Nann
      | Reply

      Thrilled beyond words that this is helpful to you all.

  14. Shirl
    | Reply

    When I did scan photos, I always used the directions included with my Epson scanner that included multiples on a page, and my son did the same for me. This is fantastic, just to think about using a black sheet of paper instead of white during the scanning. Additionally, my thanks to you for including the proper way to use PSE to easily separate the photos. I always scan my photos at a higher resolution than 300 because of their size and age. You are a positive powerhouse source of information. Love Yuh!! 🙂

    • Nann
      | Reply

      Well I love Yah too Shril! You always have an uplifting comment for everybody, you are a pearl.

  15. Pam
    | Reply

    This is fantastic – I am doing an album for me daughter’s 40th and it is so tedious cropping each one after scanning 4 or 5 on a page. Thank you so much for this. Saves a ton of time……. I am curious though why you mention black paper I just scan mine and then crop them. Am I missing something.


    • Nann
      | Reply

      Hi Pam, When I scanned photos with a white edge I didn’t always have good results. There are so many variables that I tried to make a tutorial that would work with most photos and photo sizes. Thanks for the question.

  16. Glenys Masson
    | Reply

    I agree with much of what Nan has posted, the tools are really useful. Like Nan I have scanned hundreds of photos. I’m currently working on those horrible little proof sheets produced by photographers 50 years or ago but many of my photos were from the 1920s & 1930s. 300 dpi is great if you want to reproduce at the original size but my experience has been if you want to enlarge then scan at a minimum of 600 dpi. Those little proofs are about 1 x 1.5 inches and I’m scanning at 1200dpi. When I bring them back to 6×4 they aren’t losing focus or sharpness but have a resolution of 266 dpi and print well. We won’t talk about the amount of repair work that each of them is going to need.

  17. dorisedgar
    | Reply

    I love this as I have scads of pictures to scan. Some of which have faded very badly I didn’t
    realize this had happened until recently I was looking at them. Thanks ever so much for the
    tip. dorisedgar
    I have windows 8, have been a member since 2009, but still have trouble learning everything.
    I am so scarred of pse 11. have taken many classes.

    • Nann
      | Reply

      Glad to here that this tutorial will be of help to your. About using PSE 11 my best advise is to just get in and play with it. Try doing the step by step tutorials that you will find at Digital Scrapper and you will learn your program before you know it.

  18. freetimegone
    | Reply

    I have avoided scanning my photos because of the time involved. Thanks for the great tutorial!

  19. donnal
    | Reply

    Thank you, Nann, for this tutorial. This is going into my “rolodex” on my desk so I have it handy when I need it.

  20. therez
    | Reply

    Thank you so much for this tip. I needed this so bad. Now if I could only find a way to speed scan all the slides and negatives that my family has stored in tons of boxes.

    • Maureen
      | Reply

      Canon sells scanners that actually have provisions for scanning many negatives and slides. I can’t remember which scanner number (sorry) that I had, having since replaced it with another model. But get on Canon’s web site and see if you can search it using keywords such as: negatives and slide scanners or such. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. It has been a few years since I had to address this issue.


  21. Tammy Graf
    | Reply

    I also have a lot of photos to scan and have been doing it diligently one at a time. Thanks for the great tip.

  22. Anni
    | Reply

    This isn’t working for me. I don’t have a menu option or a divide photo option when I open the photo. I have a PC, using Windows viewer, what am I not doing?!

  23. Carol
    | Reply

    I’m about to launch my adobe photoshop elements 12 software & will definitely practice using your speed-scanning process. Who knew? It makes sense to tape a sheet of black cardstock to the underside of my Epson flat-bed scanner cover, thus eliminating placing a sheet over every single scan.
    Also, thanks so much for offering a pdf printout option of your web page.

  24. Theresa Hutson
    | Reply

    Thanks for the great idea. I’m putting together a family genealogy book and I plan to use this idea for documents also. Thank you!!

  25. Mary E Barr
    | Reply

    Wow, what an idea will try this soon and just trust I do it justice. Thank you for a great tutorial !!! Mary E Barr

  26. Mary
    | Reply

    So do I need to own Photoshop to do this? I haven’t made that investment yet, nor do I know how to use it! Thanks.

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Hi Mary. This video uses Photoshop Elements. You can find a free trial of the current version on Adobe’s website. I hope this helps.

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