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Top 5 Photo Scanning Apps for Family History Books

Photographs, postcards, negatives, film and other family documents are a fantastic way to make a family history book come to life. Unlike photos on our phones that are easily available with a swipe of the screen, these photos and keepsakes are often stored away in a box or album in the attic. Previously, the only way to transform these photos from physical keepsakes into digital images for use in family history projects (or simply to share and access more readily) was to use a flatbed scanner or a photo scanning service with a local business.

Major advancements in technology have made it easier than ever to complete your photo scanning at home, using an app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. When you search for photo scanning apps in the Apple App Store, there are hundreds of results to sort through and you may be left asking: “what is the best photo scanning app for my project?”

We’ve read many reviews and tested out several photo scanning apps and collected our top five options for apps that are easy to use and effective for your projects:

  • Photomyne: This is a suite of 8 apps: Photomyne, Colorize, Slidescan, Filmbox, Lifeshow - Slideshow maker, FamilyStars, Photo Family Tree, and Face/Face. We were impressed with how easy this app was to use, the quality of the scans, and with the training and tutorials. This suite of apps is based on a subscription model, but there are several options. You can subscribe monthly, yearly, or on a 2-year one time payment basis. Photomyne is a free app, but there are limitations on its usage, so the subscription gives you much more flexibility. Read more about the Photomyne suit here (link through to separate blog post).

  • Google Photoscan: A free photo scanning app that is easy to use—simply take a picture of the photograph you want to digitize! Photoscan shows the photo with four large white dots at each corner and arrows direct you to hover over each dot so that it can take additional pictures. It then blends all 5 pictures together for the final product.

  • PicScanner Gold: At $10.99, this photo scanning app comes with a lot of features for a reasonable price. PicScanner Gold allows users to scan and crop multiple photos at once, add captions, edit photos in-app, and share via social media. You can make and share albums, create personalized cards (10 unique designs), or create a slideshow. We love that it can scan multiple photos at once, saving hours in your family history book journey.

  • FilmLab: This is one of the better film digitizing apps, especially because it gives you a positive preview of your film right away. It’s free to use for as many scans as you like. It’s an easy-to-use app. Simply select which type of negative you’re scanning and then hold the negative up to a white light background (white on a computer screen works best). There are some basic editing tools in the app for exposure, colour, temperature, and contrast. Images can be saved to your camera roll or shared with other apps.

  • Kodak Mobile Film Scanner: Another free app for scanning film that is easy to use with an incredible number of in-app options. Before scanning, users can use a slider to adjust the exposure, which is very handy! Once you take the picture of the negative there are options to add filters, a frame, round the corners of the picture, further adjust exposure, adjust contrast, add a vignette, crop the image, make it a circle image, change the orientation, saturation, sharpness, warmth, pixelate and draw on the image. Scans are saved to your camera roll to easily import into another program or share with family and friends.

The choice is yours: hope the above information helps you make a thoughtful decision.

Thorough and thoughtful research thanks to Grant, a participant in a NextGen Story course through Vancouver Island University’s Elder College.

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