Scan and archive your photos: a realistic plan
Real-world advice and steps for organizing, digitizing, and archiving hardcopy photos
Support & Drivers
If you have boxes full of printed photos that you long to organize, but are overwhelmed by the task and don’t have the time, we can help. We’ll provide the shortcuts, tools, and tips you need to archive and take proper care of your treasured family photos.
Get started and get organized
Don’t try to scan all your photos in one afternoon. Use a scanner like the HP Scanjet G3110 Photo Scanner to scan a handful of photos at a time, once a week or a couple times a month.
Pick a project, like a genealogy scrapbook, that compels you to scan your old photos.
Organizing your printed photos is far less difficult than you think—even if you have an attic packed with 30 years of photo memories.
You need to create a system that works and stick with it. And you need to do some planning and organizing before you start. Here are some ways to get started:
- Gather the photos that you want to archive, and then choose a place to begin.
- Start by scanning your favorite photos or pick a project that inspires you—like making a photo album of your baby’s milestones or a scrapbook of family holiday photos through the years.
- With many scanners, like HP photo scanners, you can scan several photos at a time. So aim to scan a handful at a time, once a week or a couple times a month, and before you know it, your mountain of photos will be gone.
- Group related photos together so you can scan and name at one time. You can do this by date, by event, or any number of ways—whatever would be a good way to search your the photo archive (like “hawaii_2000”, or “reynolds_wedding” or even “family_1972” if that’s as specific as you can be).
Don’t archive all your photos
If you have four versions of pretty much the same photo, just keep the best one—the one that captures the moment—and get rid of the rest
Delete, delete, delete. It’s okay to get rid of photos. Let’s be honest: Not every shot is a winner. Get rid of any photos that are unflattering, out of focus, or too dark.
Be discriminating, even if it means making tough decisions. Of course, we’re not suggesting that you throw away photos that are meaningful to you—by all means, keep those photos of your grandmother’s wedding day. But don’t just keep photos because they are old.
Once you have your pictures organized, you're ready to start scanning and archiving.
Entertain yourself while you archive photos
Listen to a favorite album or watch a movie while you scan and archive your photos.
If you’re ready to really commit yourself to the task of scanning and archiving, and you want to make an afternoon of it, you can find more pleasure in the task by:
- Watching a favorite movie
- Listening to a record from beginning to end (the way albums used to be enjoyed before the age of digital music)
- Using Netflix to catch up with an entire TV series
- Listening to a podcast or audio book
Save time by scanning multiple photos
The HP Scanjet G4050 Photo Scanner has a large scanning bed so you can scan up to four 4" x 6" photos at one time.
With most scanners, you can scan up to four photos at a time. So it will only take 15 minutes to scan a small stack. Here are some ways to save time while scanning:
- Check the images as soon as you scan them to be sure they look good. Don’t waste time scanning only to find out later that you need to redo your work.
- When you scan a batch of images, many scanners, like the HP Scanjet G4050 Photo Scanner, will let you assign a base file name (like “christmas_2010”) and then order the images in increasing numerical order (i.e. “christmas_2010_0001, christmas_2010_0002, etc). The automatic file-naming feature saves you the time of having to decide what to name each individual scan.
Learn to use your scanner
HP scanners make it easy to remove dust and scratches from your photos while you scan.
Part of creating a system that works is understanding how your scanner works—and how you can use it to save time. For example:
- Create scanning shortcuts—A scanning shortcut will pre-determine the settings for a certain type of scan. Then, you just press a button and let your scanner do the rest.
- Save time by improving your images while you scan—With scanners like the HP Scanjet G4010 Photo Scanner, you can use the included software to adjust brightness, sharpen images, remove dust and scratches, and more—and you can do it automatically.
Get more scanning quick tips and techniques.
Archive photos after you scan
When you're done scanning you photos, you should archive (make a backup copy) of your image files. You can fit thousands of photos on one DVD!
When you archive digital photos, you’re saving the files for long-term storage—and protecting your memories from getting lost or damaged in case your computer crashes.
Archiving also makes it easier to find what you’re looking for, so you can make prints or share your pictures anytime.
Different people choose different methods for archiving their digital photos—from CDs/DVDs to online storage to external hard drive.
Learn more about archiving your photos and decide which archiving method will work for you.
Find a scanner for archiving photos
HP photo scanners can scan slides, negatives, and multiple photos at once. Plus, they offer special features like in-scanner photo editing. Check out our photo scanner buying guide for information on these scanners and other models.
HP Scanjet G3110
HP Scanjet G4010
HP Scanjet G4050
Scan multiple photos at once
Scan slides/ negatives
- Once you’ve scanned your photo slides and negatives, learn how to organize and archive photos.
- Get tips for scanning 35 mm photo slides and negatives.
- Learn how to improve your original photo prints through scanning, including removing scratches and dust.
- 1Requires Snapfish.com account and Internet connection to printer.