I was reading the messageboard at Two Peas in a Bucket this morning and found a question from someone thinking of starting digital scrapbooking and wondering about what digital scrapbooking software to use. As I’d written an article recently about just that topic I thought I’d include it here as I’m sure others are asking the same question.

Here’s the article followed by some personal comments.

Approaching digital scrapbooking for the first time, your immediate challenge is most likely to be – what software should I use? This article aims to help you understand the different types of digital scrapbooking software available, some of the “must have” functions, and how to match up the many options to best fit your own personal working style.

So, how should you decide which digital scrapbooking software to use? From a bird’s eye view, there are 3 types:

  • Scrapbook Layout Programs
  • Photo editing packages
  • Online photo album creation services


For folks coming new to scrapbooking, or simply seeking a quick way to share simpler designs with friends and family an online photo album can be a quick and easy way to start.

However, if you prefer an outlet for your creative skills, or if you’re an experienced paper scrapper, you’ll probably want to have greater control over all aspects of your design, and be looking for the highest artistic functionality from your digital scrapbooking software. Then you should consider either Scrapbook Layout software, or full function Photo Editing software.

Let’s recap the basics…

For digital scrapbooking, you “must have” methods to:

  • upload photo images to your computer
  • manipulate your photos
  • create pages which may include graphics, photos, journaling text, audio commentary, video clips
  • save pages easily, safely and securely
  • share your pages using the media of your choice


1. Digital Scrapbook Layout Programs

Layout programs allow you to easily and quickly assemble digital scrapbook pages from pre-made graphics, photos, and journaling. They also help organize your digital photos, page themes and journaling.

Here are some examples:

  • MemoryMixer from Lasting Impressions ($50 PC & Mac)
  • My Memories Suite from Polaroid ($40 PC & Mac)
  • Scrapbook Factory Deluxe from Nova ($40 PC only)
  • Digital Scrapbook Artist Deluxe from Serif ($50 PC only)

However, do look closely at the product descriptions. Some layout programs are still missing functions that most digital scrapbookers like. For example, some don’t support transparent PNG files, are not capable of at least 200 dpi for quality printing, or they do not have the ability to place shadows that add depth to your layout. If these are important to you, check carefully.

2. Photo Editing Programs

These are more powerful programs for editing photos and they work well for creating digital elements, but you’ll probably find they take longer to learn. Some popular examples:

  • Adobe Photoshop Elements ($75) PC & Mac, or Adobe Photoshop CS4 ($250)
  • Corel Paint Shop Pro ($100 PC only)
  • Ulead Photoimpact ($100 PC only)
  • Apple Arpeture 3 (Mac only) ($200)

If you feel a photo editing program is the right way to go, we’d recommend Photoshop Elements since its very widely used, available for PC and Mac, and has more tutorial support available than any other digital scrapbooking software.

How did I start?

When I started digital scrapbooking – and it’s less than two years ago – I initially used MS Publisher which I was very familiar with, and it worked fine as I didn’t know much about digital products. Then I discovered there was a program called Macromedia Fireworks already on my computer – I think it came free with my computer. This allowed me to use my first digital products as it supports .PNG files. Around the same time I found there was also a very early version of PSE (I think it may even have been version 1 – yes, I did say an old version, lol!) and I tried that out based on the little I’d learned in Fireworks.

I eventually found some digital scrapbooking tutorials and moved on from there. And then I discovered a vast array of wonderful digital scrapbooking products – many of them free items – and my digital layouts took off from there. Using the free supplies helped me to learn without the added expense of buying products I didn’t know whether I’d ever use or not.

Once I decided I liked digital scrapping and knew it was something I’d continue to do, I invested in PSE 6. It was not the latest version, but because of that it was also cheap! And once I’ve saved enough pennies I plan to upgrade to the latest version!!

So if you are thinking about starting digital scrapbooking and wondering which software route to go, you could try out the various options to see which suits you best. However, that said, I do strongly recommend PSE. You can do such a lot with the program and it gives you lots of room to expand and grow. Yes, there is a steep learning curve, but there is also so much help out there, too – a lot of which is free.

tags: digital scrapbooking