Scan printed photos using an iPhone and store them online in your iCloud Photo Library.

How do you get old photo prints into your Photos library stored on iCloud? Using Google PhotoScan you can transfer old snaps before they fade and discolour with age. Save your photos!

If you were around before the year 2000 or have older relatives that were, you or they will probably have many old and fading photos stored in dusty old albums. They are probably in the back of a cupboard or in a box where they are rarely seen. What a shame!

Turning them into digital photos will:

  • Preserve them so they do not become worse as time passes
  • Make a backup of them in case of disaster
  • Enable you to view them more easily and on any device, even on your big screen TV
  • Allow them to be enhanced or repaired if they are damaged
  • Allow them to be shared with others

Getting printed photos into the Photos app on the iPhone and then into your iCloud Photos Library is the most important step and there are several options.

You could simply use the iPhone’s camera to photograph each printed photograph. However, it is hard to get the lighting perfect or to hold the camera and photo straight. You will need to manually crop the photo from the background afterwards using a photo editor. It is a lot of tedious work for each photograph.

This is where the Google PhotoScan app on the iPhone is so useful because it makes the task very easy and mostly automatic.

Scan with PhotoScan

You can grab a stack of photo prints and put them on a desk or table one by one. PhotoScan turns on the iPhone’s camera and you position the photo as best you can on the screen. It does not have to be precise or perfect.

Tap the button in the app to take a photo and it takes not just one, but five. After the initial photo, it draws circles in the four corners of the screen. You move the iPhone to each circle and the app automatically detects when it is in the right position and it it takes another photo.

 Google PhotoScan on the iPhone Google PhotoScan on the iPhone

Old photo of kids in Winter
This was shot 20+ years ago on a cheap film camera and scanned by PhotoScan

Post photo processing

After taking five photos, it then automatically stitches them all together by taking the best bits of each one. It took a few seconds to process each one, but the end result is seamless and as close to perfect as you will get taking a photo of a photo.

There are options to rotate the photo and to crop the corners. However, I found that it could do both of these automatically. It didn’t matter which way up the photo was because it always ended up the right way around. The app also straightened the image and cropped the background out automatically. I did nothing apart from snap the photos.

 Google PhotoScan app for the iPhone Google PhotoScan app for the iPhone

The resulting photo is automatically saved to your Photos library and this makes it almost immediately available on the iPad and Mac, either of which could be used to enhance and repair old photos if necessary.

In short, it is a brilliant app and recommended for anyone with old photo prints. It isn’t a quick process, but you could probably three or four a minute, so it would not take long to get through 100 photos.

Price: Free
By: Google
Size: 76 MB
iOS: 8.1
Verdict: An essential app for scanning old photos and the results are good.