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Dealing with Magnetic Photo Albums | Families

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Dealing with Magnetic Photo Albums
Dealing with Magnetic Photo Albums

If you are over the age of 40, you probably know what I’m talking about when I say magnetic photo albums. These are the ubiquitous photo albums from the 70s, 80s and 90s with the plastic page covers and the slightly sticky pages guaranteed to hold your precious photos in place like a magnet. The problem is that now that we are in the 2010s, these albums are eating away at our pictures and when we try to remove the photos, often they are stuck in place. Talk about frustrating!


Get Them Out


Why is it important to get our pictures out of these old albums? These so-called magnetic albums are actually full of acidic adhesive which is really bad for your pictures. You can see this in the yellowing on the pages. In some severe cases you can even see the lines of the adhesive coming through the picture. This acid is slowly eating away at the back of your pictures, while the plastic page cover is trapping the acidic fumes from this chemical reaction and damaging the front of your pictures. Yikes! Who knew so much was happening in those books on your living room shelves?


Stuck On It


One huge problem with the removal of your pictures from the magnetic photo pages is the adhesive. You will find you have one of two scenarios:

1) When you pull back the plastic covering, your photos just fall off the page. If this happens, you have won the photo organizing lottery!

2) When you pull back the plastic covering, your photos are stuck like glue to the page. Sigh! This is more common than #1 and is much more frustrating.


If you are lucky enough to have fallen under #1, count your blessings. If you are a #2, there are a few things you can do to fix the situation.


Fix the Problem


What can you do with those super stuck pages? Here are some different methods you can try.


  1. If your ultimate goal is to scan/digitize your pictures, you can scan the entire page as is. Afterwards you can go back in with photo editing software to separate the pictures into individual images. Then decide if you want to take the time and effort to remove the pictures. If the answer is no, you can leave the album as is or even, gasp!, toss the album. If the answer is yes, continue reading.
  2. Use waxed dental floss to remove the pictures. Grasp your dental floss just like you would if you were going to floss your teeth. Work the flattened floss under a corner of the picture using a side to side sawing motion. Once you’ve gotten under the corner, continue to gently saw back and forth until the photo comes loose. Depending on the strength of the adhesive this may take time and patience. You can also use a small, flat spatula made for vinyl crafts to help gently pry up the picture. Just be very careful because you can easily rip the picture if you push too hard. And do NOT use anything sharp like a razor blade. You are more likely to slice your photo (or your finger) than remove it.
  3. Some experts recommend using a hair dryer on stubborn pages.  Set the hairdryer to the low or warm setting and sweep the hairdryer over the picture. Don’t get too close or you might melt the front of the picture. This may loosen the adhesive enough that you can go back to #2.  I have even read about putting your pages in the microwave, but I haven’t tried it and it makes me feel uncomfortable. Proceed at your own risk.


Now What?


Once you get your photos out of the albums, what should you do? 

Get a good photo safe box in which to store your loose photos. I am partial to the Legacy Box which is archival quality and photo sage and looks good to boot.

Scan your photos for sharing, displaying and long term storage. You can do this yourself, use a company like FotoBridge or contact a photo organizer like myself who provides scanning services.

Once your photos are scanned, be sure to back them up using at least 2 methods.


Peeling your photos out of these magnetic photo albums can be a real pain, but in the end you’ll be glad you did. And you can take a walk down memory lane while you do it.


If getting your photographs organized seems too overwhelming or too time consuming for you, consider hiring a Personal Photo Organizer. You can find one near you through the Association of Personal Photo Organizers.



Like what you’ve read? You may also enjoy: 

Organizing Your Digital Pictures: Get Off Them Off Your Phone

Organizing Your Digital Life: Do You Have A Backup Plan?



If you would like to get more organizing tips and ideas, sign up for our monthly e-newsletter. You’ll also get our 10 Easy Ways to Get More Organized tip sheet as a free gift.



Andi Willis is a Home and Photo Organizing Expert and the owner of Good Life Organizing based in Perry, GA.  She is a Professional Organizer who loves to help people find creative solutions to organize their homes and simplify their lives. Andi can help you get past the clutter and get on with your life! 


Find Andi at Good Life Organizing, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. You can also contact her by email or (478) 550-1969. Check out her guest blog and videos on Uncle Bob’s Self Storage Blog. You can find her ebooks exclusively on Amazon.



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