Batch Scanning Photos the Fast Way




Recently I had to take a set of slides exported out of PowerPoint and turn them into slides again. While the process was totally backwards, it generally worked for the purposes of the meeting.  When PowerPoint exports slides, it puts 6 slides on a page in PDF form.  So to get them back into slides,  I did the following:

  1. Rasterized the PDF into JPG images in Photoshop at 900 dpi (which created giant images).
  2. On each image ran the crop and straighten command in Photoshop (File->Automate->Crop and Straighten)
  3. Saved each image as a slide (painful as there was like 100 of them)
  4. Added them to PowerPoint (more painful)

After a few saves in step three I realized I had a better solution for this.  I came across this solution when scanning photos.

Part 1: Scanning your photos

A number of years ago I scanned all of my photos from yesteryear and got digital copies.  Flatbed scanners are good at scanning a large amount of area.  The problem is that it’s hard to deal with when you get image back.  You have one of two solutions:

First Method:


Scan each photo individually.  Each photo requires two passes. The first pass finds the photo and the second pass scans it at high fidelity.

Second Method:

Scan the whole area in high fidelity and crop out each image

Second Method (with optimization):


If you consistently place photos against the left margin you don’t have to scan the whole width of the scanner if the photos are smaller than the scanner width.  This makes for faster scans as the scanner has to return less data to the computer.  In the diagram above the white area is trimmed from the scan size resulting in a 25-33% faster scan.

Part 2: Cropping the results

Adobe introduced the Crop and Straighten in Photoshop CS 2 which seemed like the perfect feature.  Problem is that it didn’t work in batch. When I was back at Adobe, a colleague of mine, Jeff Tranberry, wrote a script that automates it.  You basically just do the following:

  1. Scan all your photos with a flatbed scanner putting as many photos on the glass as you can, but with some white space around each
  2. Place all the resultant scans in one directory.
  3. Create another directory for the script to output
  4. Start Photoshop
  5. Click File->Scripts->Browse
  6. Choose
  7. Let the script run.

When it’s done just cull through the cropped files to delete the bogus results.  It wont get every photo right, but it does a pretty good job.  For those photos that don’t crop right, just redo the scanning for those individually.

Thanks Jeff!

Download the scripts here:


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