When we think of scanner apps, document scanners are the first that come to mind. These are very helpful tools for saving travel receipts, saving sketches or ideas scribbled on an envelope, or capturing notes from a whiteboard. But photo-scanner apps, although newer, can be just as useful.
Here’s how they work:
Take a snapshot with your phone, edit and save the resulting scan. That’s it. No need for an expensive flatbed scanner or software for cropping and editing. You’ll be surprised at the speed and quality some of these apps can offer–and just how much time they’ll save you.
We’ve tested the best photo scanner apps on the market, and have selected the cream of the crop. Here are the top 5 apps to digitize your prized pictures.
#1. Pic Scanner Gold
Pic Scanner Gold for iOS provides a fast and easy way to scan several photographs at a time. Its impressive photo editor and built-in tools for converting photos into e-greeting cards, shareable albums, and slideshows make it a worthy addition to your iPhone.
To scan, keep photos on a white background with a small separation between photos. Hold the iPhone or iPad horizontal above the photos. The app will focus automatically, and when the device is exactly level it will display an OK sign. Tap the shutter button, and all the photos will be cropped and immediately saved on Gallery screen.
Pic Scanner Gold automatically enhances photos and corrects for perspective distortion. It includes a wide range of filters to give a nostalgic look to old photographs. You can add frames, filters, text and overlays, and make other adjustments. The blemish removal tool is especially useful for fixing minor creases or stains in old pictures.
The app lets you add information about photos, such as when and where it was taken. The album creation feature helps organize scanned photos into digital albums the way our mothers used to with analog binder albums. If you like to combine old and new, you can even import recent pics from Photos app. The app’s View Caster slideshow is billed as a “slideshow with a twist”, which makes photo browsing more fun. And if you want to share memories or embarrass a cousin with throwback photos, the app makes it very easy to post on social media or save to any cloud service of your choice.
Learning to use Pic Scanner Gold is not difficult: it walks you through the main scanning tips. Functions on each screen are also explained in the app’s Help menu. All this will give you enough knowledge to scan and enhance your pictorial past.
Pic Scanner Gold costs $4.99 and can be downloaded here.
Pic Scanner Gold is the successor to Pic Scanner, the first mobile app that could scan and crop multiple photo. Pic Scanner costs $2.99 after a free trial, but has fewer features.
Shoebox, one of the first photo scanner apps, is another photo scanner app which will detect the edges of old photos and correct perspective automatically. The app is available for iOS, OSX, Android and Windows.
As soon as you scan a photo, you will see its outline marked with a dotted line. If edge detection is not accurate, drag the handles at the photo’s corners to adjust the cropping guide, and that’s it. After scanning the photo, the app allows you to add information like the place, name and caption. This allows you to browse photos based on time, locations, season, camera, and many other criteria. You can view slideshows and share your pictures directly on Twitter, Facebook, and more.
Although the app is free, you will need an Ancestry account (Ancestry.com bought Shoebox a few years ago) for backing up photos. Also, it doesn’t offer advanced editing features such as adjusting contrast or color, or filters and frames. This makes Shoebox simple to use but a bit limited in its scope.
PhotoScan, developed by Google, is a recently released app. It is available for both Android and iOS.
To scan, you place a photo on a plain surface. The app will automatically find frame of photo and instruct user to move phone around the photo so as to capture it from three different points. It will then combine them to produce a glare-free scan.
In our tests, the glare removal feature worked very well. Accuracy of edge detection was acceptable. Of course, avoiding glare in the first place is better than capturing and then removing it. This is easily done by not using flash but scanning in reflected or indirect light. You will notice the difference when you scan the same photo in good light and under flash with glare removal.
PhotoScan lets you save scanned images to Google Photos or on your phone. PhotoScan also automatically rotates photos to make them right side up. Editing options are a bit limited. Also note that it works only on iPhone 5S and newer devices.
PhotoScan is free and can be downloaded from iOS App Store or Google Play.
#4. Cam Scanner
Cam scanner is better-known as a document scanner, although it can also double as a photo scanner. The app use phone’s cameras to take picture of document, edit it, crops it, and then creates PDF which can be shared easily. On the home screen you have tags on left hand side. All scans are sorted according to tags, which can be customized as required.
There are options to delete, share, merge, change tag and add password protection. Most of its features, such as Gray Mode, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) are great, but designed for document rather than photo scanning.
Cam Scanner lets you save scans to a number of third-party apps, including Box, OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote.
#5. Genius Scan
Genius Scan is mainly a document scanner app, but can also be used to scan photos. It is available for iOS, Android and Windows phone. It has the capability to turn your old photos into PDF or JPEG files, and features smart-edge detection, image enhancement, and perspective correction.
To scan, position your phone’s camera directly over the photo, such that the photo fits fully within frame. It will show you an outline of the photo’s edges it detects. Snap a picture and make any cropping adjustments if needed. This app offers the option to use flash, but this caused glare in scans. We found it better to scan in a naturally well-lit place.
The app allows organising photos with tags and titles, and has a good search feature. Digitised photos can be shared to social media with ease.
Genius Scan can be downloaded free. However, you will need to upgrade to the paid version ($2.99) to upload photos or documents to Evernote, Dropbox or Google Docs.
There are also a few other photo scanner apps, such as Unfade, Photomyne and Heirloom.
You don’t have to stress about your old memories fading away in some forgotten corner of the house. With these 5 apps, you can scan photos in hours instead of weeks. Now you can share all of those “Kodak” moments with friends and family on social media.