Printing Photos

If you have a photo printer or another means for printing photos use this free lesson as a guideline for how to do it right.

Photo-printing tips

To ensure your prints look as good as possible, you may want to take a moment to make a few final adjustments to your photos. Below are some tips you can use to get better results.

Use JPEG images

As we mentioned in the first lesson of this tutorial, the JPEG format is commonly used for photographs. Many photo-printing services will require your images to be JPEGs. If your images aren't already using this format, you will likely need to save new JPEG versions before printing. We recommend using the highest-quality setting when saving a JPEG for printing.

Use high-resolution images

As discussed earlier in this tutorial, the higher the resolution, the more detail an image will have. This is especially important when printing because the resolution of a printed image is much higher than the resolution of your computer screen. So even though an image might look perfectly clear on your computer, it may not look good when printed. Most photo-printing services suggest that your images have resolution of at least 300DPI (dots per inch). If your photo has a lower resolution, it may look blocky, or pixelated, when printed.

Most modern digital cameras take large, high-resolution images that will meet this requirement. However, you should not expect an image you've downloaded from the web (or any image that's been previously resized) to have a high resolution. If you've already saved a smaller version of a photo to share on the web, you'll want to use the original, full-resolution version of the image for printing.

Many photo-printing services will warn you if an image doesn't meet the recommended resolution for the selected print size.

Adjust cropping if necessary

If your photo has a different aspect ratio from the print size you've selected, your images will be automatically cropped to fit the print size, which can lead to unexpected results. For example, if you request a 4" × 6" print of a square image, important parts of the image may be cropped out. In the example below, you can see that one person's head has been completely cropped out of the image:

previewing an incorrectly cropped image

Fortunately, almost every service will allow you to preview and adjust the crop before ordering your prints.

adjust the crop before printing

Advanced printing tips

If you're looking for even better results, here are some other tips you may want to consider:

It's important to keep in mind that there's no formula for printing a perfect photo. Even small details, like the adjustments you make or the print size you choose, can have a big impact on the final result. But with a little practice and by following the tips above, you'll be able to get consistent, good-looking prints.