How to use the Automated Crop and Straighten tool in Photoshop

March 25, 2016

I have boxes, as well as albums, of old photographs that need to be digitized for safe keeping.  It’s a big job that I have been putting off for a long time.  Several months ago, I gathered up a few hundred photos to send to a professional scanning company that was offering a value-priced scanning package.  I was happy to have some of my old photos digitized, but I knew it would be cost-prohibitive to have ALL of my photos professionally scanned.  Individually scanning and straightening photos is just too time-consuming and tedious to hold my interest, so once again the project fell to the bottom of my To-Do list.

Cropping and Straightening in Photoshop by SnickerdoodleDesigns

But I learned two new things this week that can help with a project of this type and size.

  1. Some scanners offer the option, when scanning multiple images at once, to output each image as individual documents.
  2. If you don’t have a scanner that offers this option, Photoshop’s Automated Crop and Straighten tool will drastically reduce the time required for a project such as this.

Let’s look at how Photoshop can help.  I am using Photoshop CC2015 for this tutorial. The Automated Crop and Straighten tool is available in previous versions of Photoshop, but is not available in Photoshop Elements. (The good news for Elements users is that they can use their scanning software to accomplish the same task, if their scanner has that option.)

Here’s how it works:

  1. Scan your photos.  While it’s a good idea to try to keep the photos straight when you place them on the scanning bed, you don’t have to be exact.  I purposely tilted the photos just a bit for demonstration purposes.

Cropping and Straightening in Photoshop by SnickerdoodleDesigns

2. In Photoshop:  File > Automate > Crop and Straighten. Then let Photoshop work its magic. It takes just a few seconds.

Cropping and Straightening by SnickerdoodleDesigns

All 4 photos are on their own document.

sd-scan4a2

I think Photoshop did a great job of this.  I think it did an especially good job with Photo #1 and 2.

sd-scan7

Notice the difference between the original scans and the final cropped-straightened photos #3 and #4.  Photoshop looks for horizontal lines when straightening.  In Photo #3, it focused on the roof line.  In Photo #4, the top of the baby blanket.  There is a slight rotation in photo #3 and the difference in photo #4 is negligible.

sd-scan8a

Overall, I am extremely happy with the results of all 4 cropped and straightened photographs.

There is something charming about old photograph borders and edges.  You can take the time to extract the photo with the border, and just choose to save the photograph image itself.

sd-scan9

Complete any touch up as required. I used the Spot Healing Brush to remove the crease in the lower-left corner of the photo. All that’s left to do is to name and save your images.

Now the task of scanning years and years of photos isn’t quite as intimidating for me.  I hope this tutorial is helpful for you as you consider how to digitize your precious family photographs or other documents.

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