How to Choose a Photo Scanner

For those searching for a photo scanner, the market has many types of scanners with various features to make scanning photos fast and easy. If you haven’t shopped for a scanner in a few years, you may surprised at the advances in scanning technology. Choosing a photo scanner, however, can be confusing if you do not take into careful consideration the type of scanning you want to do.

What you want to scan will influence the style of scanner you purchase. Not every photo is a standard shape and size. If your to-scan pile includes large documents or photos, thicker than average items like Polaroids, or many two-sided scans, take all of this into consideration while choosing a photo scanner.

Flatbed or Auto Feed

The auto feed scanners are appealing to users who have large quantities of photos to scan. All you have to do is put the photo into the feeder and press a button, and your scan is saved to computer or external storage.

This makes digitizing photos fast and efficient. Some auto feeder scanners can even scan both sides of a photo at once, so if you have notes on the back of pictures, this can halve the amount of time you spend scanning.

Flatbed scanners, on the other hand, require more physical steps to set up a scan but can scan thicker items and are more versatile in their settings. Flatbed scanners generally have higher resolution options and require a connection to a computer to use.

If you have delicate or irreplaceable photos, you may not want to use an auto feed scanner. It would be safer to choose a flatbed, but it will take you longer to scan your photos. Some auto feed scanners include transparent sheets to assist you in scanning non-standard shaped photos, but results vary when using these sheets.


One of the advantages to the smaller scanners on the market is their portability. Certain scanners don’t even need a computer to operate. They may scan directly to USB flash drive or SD card, meaning you can scan on-the-go without being near your desktop or laptop.

Some scanners even run on batteries so you can scan without plugging in a power cord. Travel scanners can weigh less than a pound and are quite small, so packing them into a computer bag or backpack takes little space.

If you think a scanner would be convenient to take with you on the road while traveling, choose a small auto feed scanner. If you want the ultimate in portability, pack some rechargeable batteries and buy a scanner that doesn’t need electricity to run.


Depending on the software you own, you may want to look for a scanner with a good photo editing software bundle. Not all editing software is created equal, and some users may want in depth editing that goes beyond cropping and color correction.

Other users will be happy to let a scanner with built-in deskewing and cropping do the editing for them. Be sure to check the details of the software that comes with the scanner you are considering before making your final decision.

You can purchase high-end photo editing software separately, so if your ideal scanner doesn’t come with the right kind of software, you can always buy another app or program.

Other Options

Scanners can come with other options like instant upload to email, pdf, cloud storage, or social media at the touch of a button. This will appeal to users who like to share their photos online.

Others have WiFi connectivity or Bluetooth to wirelessly scan from multiple devices. Some users may want a simple-to-use scanner that operates at the push of a button while other users may want more robust features.


The first consideration in choosing a photo scanner is if you want an auto feed or a flatbed scanner. After deciding this, look at the other features like the portability of the scanner and the included editing software.

The way you want to use the scanner will influence the way you choose a photo scanner, so look at the options carefully. Soon you will be on your way to scanning your photos with ease and enjoyment.

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