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Photo tip: Best apps to convert old photos and negatives to digital

Forget scrolling through your phone’s endless photo gallery to find something. Here’s a pro trick to locate any photo you want in 30 seconds, or less.

If your photos aren’t backed up, this is your friendly reminder to do it now. You’d be heartbroken should you lose all those memories. Tap or click for the foolproof steps to make the job a lot easier.

When it comes to the old photos you have lying around, you don’t need to pay for an expensive digitizing service or buy a scanner. You can use an app to get the job done. Here are three great options.

PhotoScan by Google Photos

Google’s PhotoScan is a free app for iOS and Android that scans your photos multiple times, then stitches all the images together to remove glare and improve the quality of the final image. The app works on matte, gloss prints and photos inside or outside albums.

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Here’s how it works: Snap one photo, then take four additional shots according to the app’s instructions. PhotoScan uses an algorithm to detect and crop the photo, automatically detect the edge, correct the rotation, and correct the perspective to show a frontal view.

  • Open the PhotoScan app and hold your phone above a photo.
  • Tap the capture button to take pictures, which will save to your device.
  • Move your phone around to get the circle over each of the four dots.
  • After the photo is processed, tap the photo thumbnail.
  • Select a photo to rotate, adjust the corners or delete.

You can then use Google Photos to store and organize your scans. From there, you can edit your images and share them with others.

Tap or click here to download for iPhone

Tap or click here to download for Android.

Microsoft Lens

Microsoft Lens (formerly Office Lens) is a free business-oriented scanning app that works with documents, whiteboards, business cards, receipts, menus, signs, handwritten memos, or anything else containing text you want to import to your phone. It certainly beats typing everything by hand.

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The app also works with photos and automatically corrects things like shadows and odd angles.

Microsoft Lens makes it easy to digitize photos in a few steps:

  • Open Microsoft Lens and swipe left or right near the bottom of the screen and select Photo.
  • Point your camera at the photo you want to capture, ensuring it is in the frame. You can turn the flash on and off before tapping the camera button to snap the picture.
  • Now you can Add a new image to your scan, apply a Filter to the image, Crop, Rotate, or Delete the image. You can also annotate it or add text.
  • Tap Done when you’re finished.

You can save pictures in your phone’s gallery.

Tap or click here to download for iPhone

Tap or click here to download for Android.

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A solid option for negatives: FilmBox by Photomyne

FilmBox is a scanner app for iOS and Android that digitizes your camera film negatives using just your smartphone. 

You can view, capture, and save film negatives, making browsing, organizing, and sharing easier. FilmBox inverts the image’s negative colors into positive, then enhances the overall appearance.

Note: The first few scans are free, but you’ll have to pay for a subscription if you want to capture more. A two-year plan costs $39.99 and gives unlimited access to the app and its features.

All you need is a light source and your smartphone to get started:

  • Place your negatives in a dark or low-lit room. Open the FilmBox app.
  • The only light source should be a backlight, which you can get by opening a white screen on a tablet or computer. You can also use the photomyne.com/backlight link provided in the app. Set your backlight device to the highest brightness setting.
  • Hold your film strip vertically in front of the light and keep it steady. Make sure the perforated borders are included in the scanning screen.
  • Hold your negatives about two inches away from the light source and tap the app’s capture button.
  • Your image will be saved as a digital photo in the app.

Tap or click here to download for iPhone

Tap or click here to download for Android.

Keep your tech-know going 

My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode.

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Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Today” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

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