Save Your Photo Memories Forever With Free Shoebox App [Review]


From an actual shoebox to a digital one
From an actual shoebox to a digital one

Those of us over a certain age have a lingering hangover from the days before digital: actual photographs. If you’re lucky (and extremely well organized), yours are neatly displayed on the walls and in labelled albums. If you’re unlucky (or plain lazy, like me), they’re shoved in cardboard boxes and left in cupboards to rot. That’s not how it should be, is it?

Shoebox aims to fix that. It’s a free app from the people at photo archive website 1000memories, whose stated aim is to “share and preserve photos sitting in your old albums and hard drives.”

The iOS app is designed as a conduit, a quick way of scanning photos and getting them online as fast as possible. The main functions are: scan, edit (to ensure the scan is as close to the original as possible), tag (with metadata, as appropriate) and upload.

It works as advertised, and is simple to use. You are required to have an account at 1000memories before you start, though. If you don’t have one, you can create one in the app, or use your Facebook ID.

There are some problems, though. Not all of them are 1000memories’ fault, mind you.

One is a direct result of using your phone as a scanner: reflections. If you’re trying to take a photo of a glossy photo, in a moderately well-lit room, you have to work hard to ensure you don’t get any reflections of windows, lights, or of your own iPhone in the image. Sometimes it requires a bit of trial-and-error before you find a good reflection-free spot.

Once you take a photo you like, the next few steps are easy. There’s a nice cropping tool, complete with a loupe-style preview when you’re dragging the corners of the selection to where you want them to be. You can adjust contrast and color, to try and get your digitized version as close to the original as possible. Then you upload to

There are limitations to what the app can do. You can add metadata to an image before you upload, but there’s no way to edit it afterwards. If you want to add a comment, caption or date after uploading, you’ll have to log in to 1000memories on your computer and do it there.

I was disappointed by the sharing options. It’s possible to export to Facebook and Twitter, or to send by email, but only after the image has been uploaded to 1000memories.

Take a note of 1000memories’ privacy policies. By default, your uploads are public, unless you specifically make them private. You can create private shoeboxes (their word for albums) from the iOS app. On the flip side, anything you do make public will be automatically archived for posterity by The Internet Archive. That alone is a superb feature and, to my mind, one of the best reasons for using 1000memories. Experience tells us that it’s all too easy for web services to wither and die, taking all your content with them when they go. The Internet Archive is much more likely to last much, much longer, giving your data a guaranteed and accessible backup for a long time to come.

This is a free app, so there’s not much to complain about. It is very easy to scan and upload images, as long as you’re happy with uploading them to 1000memories. It’s a shame there’s no direct export to Flickr, and that you can’t automatically export when you upload (thereby saving a few extra steps).

Overall, though, it’s a system that works and lets you archive on the web all the photos that would otherwise sit unviewed and unappreciated in a box somewhere in your garage.

Pro: Free, automatic Internet Archive of public content

Con: Sharing options could be faster and better