5 steps to Preserve Photos Stored in Magnetic Photo Albums

Magnetic Photo AlbumsDo you  have any albums that look like this? I sure did. I remember putting together photo albums of me and my siblings in the late 70’s. We thought that sticky adhesive was great – it kept the photo nicely in place. UGH – little did we know that would come back to haunt us! If you have any magnetic albums where the photos have PVC plastic overlays and are on self stick  magnetic pages then you will want to follow these steps to start to preserve your family memories.

Step 1:  Gather all your magnetic photos albums in one place and organize them chronologically. Use clues from the photos to help if there are no dates on the albums or pages. Some of these albums will be deteriorating so handle with care to ensure that the loose photos do not fall out of the albums.

Step 2: Gather your supplies.

  • Cotton gloves because the oils on your fingers can negatively affect the photographs
  • Dental floss  – Teflon (because it won’t shred) and unwaxed. Feed under a lifted edge of a photo on a self stick page. Pull side to side – but do not lift up on the image otherwise it can rip or curl.
  • Archival safe storage envelopes or boxes for storing the photos
  • Soft lead pencil for capturing captions. If pencil does not work because of the resin coated paper capture the text on a sticky note and adhere to the edge of the back of the photo.

Step 3: Culling the photos. It is unlikely that every photo in the albums are keepsakes. Therefore, only remove the photos that you want to preserve one page at a time especially if there are captions tied to the photos. Take care to keep them in the same order. Even though it might not always look like it there is most likely an order or theme to the photos in the albums.

Step 4: Scanning & File Naming: Depending on how you want to preserve your photos you can either caption the text on each individual photo and then scan and name the digital file accordingly or you can just scan and name the digital file with the caption. Regardless of which you choose be sure to include the year, month and day (if available) as part of the name of the photo file. For example: 1975-10-25 Carolyn’s First Birthday.

Step 5: Storing the photos. The removed photos need to be stored in an archival safe box. The scanned photos need to be saved not only on your computer but in two additional places: cloud storage and an external hard drive are good options. I also like to include a USB flash drive (of the scanned photos) in the archival box where the printed photos are stored especially if the captioning did not get attached to the printed photo.

A client dropped off these photo albums to have me scan and make some digital photo books for her and her siblings. She brought me the magnetic photo albums with the photos marked with X’s indicating the photos she did not want. I scanned the rest, renamed, organized, and uploaded to Flickr so she could easily show her siblings their childhood photos. She wanted me to throw away her photo albums. Instead, I took the above photo and gave it to her. She said that was a keepsake that she did not know she would treasure. I also gave her back the albums.

As a life long photo enthusiast I have experienced and heard stories about photo loss. I am here to make sure your photos are preserved and shared for all of your family to enjoy. I can help you sort, secure and tell stories with your photos. I also consult, train, and offers workshops for those who want to learn the skill set to keep their photos organized for future generations. I look forward to helping you connect, share and re-share your family memories through the care and management of your photos.


  1. Thanks for sharing this tips really helpful. Now we start preserving those fun memories

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"People are taking pictures at a record pace, but many are discovering they lack the time to sort, organize and print these images. The need for the services of a personal photo organizer has evolved as consumers seek out effective solutions for preserving and enjoying their precious memories." - The Association of Personal Photo Orangizers