…when scanning those photos.

As I hop, skip, and jump from one customer to the next it seems that just about everyone has a scanner or an all-in-one (printer/scanner/fax). The troubling part is no one really uses their scanner and when they do they tend to get things a bit messed up. Pay attention here because this goes for small businesses as well.

First and foremost: Both Windows and the Mac OS have programs built in to scan straight from your scanner. We’re not going to get into detail on how to use these programs directly or any other programs. What I am going to relay to you is how to use the settings to share a great photo at a small file size.

Are you still going to Walgreen’s to get your photos developed? This article may not be for you if the digital age confuses you but if you want to e-mail a family member one of those palpable pictures then read on.


There are two main reasons to scan photos for the everyday user; you want to archive/save the photo for printing later or you want to share the photo with a friend or family member via e-mail, Facebook, Picassa, or other digital avenues. We’ll only concentrate on the latter and show you the proper way to share the photo.

Grab that photo and place it on your flatbed – look for the marks so you know which way’s up. Open your favorite scanning application. Once you have it open look for the scanner settings. You will want to choose JPEG/JPG (if your app has a setting for JPEG quality, 8/10 or 80% is a decent setting but you can play with it and make up your own mind). Now set the resolution as low as possible. Most apps start at 100dpi/ppi or 100×100. Set the color for Color or Photo. If your application allows you, and most all do, hit the pre-scan or preview button. Is the scanner lamp still warming up? I’ll wait. Should be grinding and whirring now. Now your app will show you what you are scanning. Crop the image. Most all apps have the ability to select just the area you want to scan by drawing a box around the picture. Otherwise you’ll be scanning the white background and making the image larger and harder to look at. Okay. So you set to JPEG/JPG, selected 100dpi, selected color, previewed, and cropped. Now press ‘scan’. Looks fine doesn’t it? You do remember where you saved the file to, right? Go ahead and upload it to Facebook or send it via e-mail to that friend or family member. They’ll be happy to know they’re not receiving a huge file that’ll bog down their e-mail and it will upload to a site like Facebook in no time flat.

If you do plan on scanning a photo to print later or to send to someone (or a company) to print then you can increase the DPI to 300 or even 600. You shouldn’t need to set it any higher unless someone asks you to, for whatever reason. Leave the higher resolutions to the professionals. Most printers don’t do more than 600dpi anyway unless you have a super fancy one and want to print an 11″x17″ tabloid or the like.

Our next article on digital images will cover overzealous faxing and how you can just e-mail the document as a PDF and a few other tips to save paper, ink, toner, and time.

Eric Johnson
Eric Johnson
Co-Owner and founder of Credo Technology Group, LLC, Eric has been working with computers since the mid 80's and enjoys helping people become free of their technological stress.

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