You've got a scanner, but to scan images into your PC, you need software like VueScan from Hamrick Software. VueScan is compatible with most flatbed and film scanners, and their software, which means you can use it without making any changes to your PC or existing scanner software. VueScan's processing features can restore faded colors and perform other professional-type adjustments, but it's also easy to use. VueScan is free to try, though the trial version places a watermark on saved images. The free trial might also support fewer devices, though the list of supported devices is so long that we can't imagine what could be left off. VueScan supports Windows versions 2000 to 8.
VueScan automatically detected our USB flatbed scanner when it opened. It also displayed an optional tool tip, and the message box on the Input tab asked what we wanted to do, following up its question with specific examples and actions. These frequent on-screen explanations and other data showed VueScan's emphasis on ease of use and support. VueScan resembles many scanner utilities we've tried, with a main window showing Preview and Scan tabs and a left-hand navigation and control panel tabbed for Input, Crop, Filter, Color, Output, and Prefs. We had but one scanner, but VueScan lets you choose between multiple scanners and compatible image data sources, when available. The Scanner menu's Calibrate control automatically optimized VueScan's preview display, but the software offers many options for tweaking and fine-tuning images, color balance, and other parameters.
We loaded an image and pressed "Preview." VueScan's preview looked good, so we pressed "Scan," though we could also press "Guide Me" for more information or "Abort" to cancel the scan. A pop-up notified us about the output watermark; we pressed "OK." Our finished and saved scan opened inside Windows Photo Viewer with the watermark liberally applied, but otherwise a close reproduction of the original. Since you need a scanner to use VueScan, it's likely your scanner came with similar software. The full version of VueScan costs almost $40, so we'll stick with the utility that came with our scanner, but VueScan is a worthy alternative.
Editors' note: This is a review of the trial version of VueScan 9.2.19.