How to Scan Photos on the iPhone

Discover the best way to scan old photos with just your iPhone Camera or using specific photo scanner apps.

The best way to scan pictures is by using an old-fashioned scanner. However, there isn’t always one at hand when we need it most. Luckily, it is possible to scan photos with your iPhone. All you need is a functional camera and good lighting. There are also more professional photo scanner apps available to make scanning photos a breeze.

Related: The iPhone Camera App: The Ultimate Guide to Taking Photos & Videos

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How to Scan Pictures on the iPhone

Scanning photos on an iPhone if you don’t have a photo scanning app is as easy as opening your Camera app. Lay your photo down on a flat surface and hold your phone straight above it.

  1. Open the Camera app.

    Open Camera app on iPhone
  2. Position your iPhone correctly. Make sure to keep it perfectly parallel to the photo and not at an angle.

    Position camera parallelly
  3. Take the photo.

    Take a photo with the Camera app

Learn more about how to take perfect overheard photos using the Grid function to line up the white and yellow crosshairs. To learn more about taking photos with an iPhone, sign up for our free Tip of the Day newsletter.

How to Scan Photos Using the Notes App

The Notes app has a function that allows you to scan photos as well as documents.

  1. Open the Notes app.

    Open Notes app on iPhone
  2. Tap the Create new note icon in the bottom right-hand corner.

    Tap to Create a new note on iPhone
  3. Tap in the body of the note to see the options menu.

    Tap the body of the note to see the options menu
  4. Select the camera icon.

    Tap the camera app to scan a photo in the Notes app
  5. Tap Scan Documents.

    Select scan documents to scan a photo in the Notes app
  6. Tap the shutter button to scan the photo.

    Take a photo to scan it in the Notes app
  7. Crop as necessary by dragging the corners to meet the edges of the photo.

    Crop the photo as necessary in the Notes app
  8. Select Keep Scan if you are satisfied. Tap Retake if you need to try again.

    Tap keep scan to save it to the Notes app
  9. Tap Done to save the note.

    Tap done to save the scans in the Note app

Photo Scanning Tips

There are a few tips that will teach you how to scan on the iPhone as if you were using a scanner. The photo must lay on a flat surface and the iPhone should be held parallel to it. You have to keep your hands steady to avoid blurs and maintain the right distance for best quality. It is also important to consider lighting, iPhone position, glare control, flash, and Camera app settings.


When using your iPhone to scan photos, lighting is incredibly important. Natural light is the best, although a bright white-light lamp can also work. Consider where the light is coming from when positioning your phone to avoid shadows. Doing it directly under the light won’t work because your phone will cast a shadow.

Phone Settings

If you are using the Camera app to scan the photo, make sure you are using Photo Mode and not Portrait Mode. Additionally, make sure that you are not zoomed in or zoomed out, to avoid distortion of any kind. If you are having trouble focusing, tap the screen on one of the faces in the photo. You may need to move the phone further away to take a better quality photo—this will require you to crop it later on but can result in a better photo scan.

Your iPhone will automatically adjust to the best settings for the perfect photo. However, sometimes you may wish to change them to suit your needs.

  1. Open the Camera app.

    Open Camera app on iPhone
  2. Tap the arrow on top of the screen to open the settings menu below.

    Tap the arrows on top of the Camera app to reveal settings
  3. Adjust the settings to turn off flash, disable Live Photos and consider raising the exposure as necessary.

    Adjust the settings in the Photo app as necessary

How to Reduce Glare

Reducing glare can be tricky but all it takes is altering the position of the photo. Especially since most photos are printed on shiny paper, you may need to experiment with different locations where you have enough light without the glare. It can also help to move farther away from the photo and even tilt the iPhone slightly. If you resort to this, you will need to crop the photo later on.

Best Photo Scanner Apps

The best way to scan pictures on an iPhone is by taking advantage of a third- party scanning app.

1. PhotoScan by Google Photos (Free)

PhotoScan is a free app takes scanning photos to the next level. It provides step-by-step instructions, automatically crops and enhances the photos, plus it has a toggle for glare removal. The app even offers perspective correction, smart rotation and edge detection. The scanned photos are then stored on the free Google Photos app and can be shared from there in just one click.

Scanning photos of PhotoScan

2. Photo Scan App by Photomyne (Free or $59.99 for 2 Years)

Phtomyne is another great option that features the option to scan multiple photos with just one shot. This makes scanning an entire photo album a stress-free task. The app automatically detects picture boundaries, rotates sideways photos and crops them. There is also automatic enhancement as well as some amazing add-ons with the paid subscription.

The paid subscription costs $59.99 for a two-year period and it allows allow you to add stories to each photo either via typed text or voice recording. You can also tag faces, apply photo filters, and even colorize your black and white photos!

Scanning photos with Photomyne

3. Pic Scanner ($3.99)

Pic Scanner claims to be the world’s first app to scan and crop multiple photos per click. For a one-time fee of $3.99 the app offers unlimited use of all the features that includes photo editing tools, filters, automatic perspective correction and photo captions. Once you scan photos, you can add them to albums and slideshows without limitation. Another perk is that it doesn’t need an internet connection to function.

Scanning photos with Pic Scanner

Learning how to scan photos on iPhone doesn’t need to be complicated. It can be as simple as learning to use the Camera app that is already on your phone. In order to save yourself some time on editing, consider a third-party app. Photo scanner apps can scan multiple photos at once and enhance them automatically, turning your physical album into a social media post in just a few clicks.

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Author Details

Olena Kagui's picture

Author Details

Olena Kagui

Olena Kagui is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life who lives in Hawaii. With a BA in International Relations from Anglo American University, Olena traveled the world. She has lived in Ukraine, the Czech Republic, China, and the USA. Olena won an excellence award for a controversial article, got a grant to blog from a war-zone, and published a short fictional story. She hopes to publish a full-length novel and continue writing up a storm on her blog The Travel Bug Bite! When she’s not typing or flying, she is loving on animals, crafting bizarre creations, and devouring all-you-can-eat sushi.