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Best Photo Printing Services: How to Get the Best Prints, Gifts, and More

Best Photo Printing Services
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Updated December 14, 2023

Whether you’re ordering prints, gifts, holiday cards, or other items, the photo printing service you choose can affect your experience and the quality of the photos you receive. From print quality to price to shipping to the overall ordering process, there’s a lot to consider when choosing a photo printing service. So I asked professional photographers for advice on how to choose the right service, and included my picks for the best photo printing services to help you get started. 

What to consider when using photo printing services

I asked professional photographers how they choose the best photo printing services to balance photo quality and cost. Here’s what they recommend

Type of printing

Kari Bjorn, a wedding photographer in Fayetteville, Arkansas, has been shooting since 2010. In addition to doing in-studio inkjet prints, Bjorn has used a few printing services. “There are many ways to print a photo,” advises Bjorn. “Most of the affordable options and chains use dye sublimation printing. It’s fast, colorful, and reasonably durable.” 

He explains that inkjet printing is a mid-range option. There are typically four paper choices with inkjet printing, though more specialized papers are also available. Most commonly, you’ll find luster, glossy, matte, and semi-matte papers offered. 

Type of paper

Consider the overall appearance you want your photo to have. Bjorn explains that different paper types have different advantages and disadvantages. “Lustre, sometimes called pearl after the little bubbles on the surface of the paper, produces colorful and contrasting prints,” he says. “Glossy papers are best for smaller prints, as they reflect a lot of light and are therefore not great for wall prints.” 

Matte papers tend to soak up more ink than other types of paper, so images usually have a flatter, less saturated look than what will appear on a computer screen. “This will need to be adjusted before printing,” says Bjorn. “Semi-matte papers offer slightly more sheen and colors than matte.” 

Bjorn recommends you always choose archival and acid-free papers, since they last the longest. “Regular papers aren’t acidic; they just tilt slightly on the acidic side, and that acid can react to your natural body oil that’s on your fingers when you handle the prints.” It’s also possible to choose pigments and inks that are more archival. “When combined, these archival products can make prints that can last hundreds of years,” he explains.

Reputation

Alex Perelmuter, photographer and videographer at New Jersey Videography, notes a company’s reputation and reviews can provide important insight into its operations. “Look for feedback from previous customers regarding the quality of prints, customer service, delivery times, and overall experience,” he recommends. 

Pricing structure

While it might be tempting to choose a service that offers the lowest prices, it’s important to look for a balance of price and overall quality. “Compare the pricing structures of different photo printing services to ensure you’re getting the best value for your money,” Perelmuter recommends. “Keep in mind that the cheapest option may not always provide the desired quality.” 

“I always notice a tension between price, quality, and durability when discussing printing options with my clients,” says Bjorn. “Chain stores, for example, are mostly going to offer quick and affordable services that are not going to be high quality or durable. If you want 10 4x6s made from pictures on your phone, then that might be the best option. Photographers who offer in-house prints and professional labs are more expensive but their products will usually be of high quality and made with durable materials.” 

Ease of use

Consider how easy it is to order prints, too. Many printing services offer their own photo upload platforms, some of which include basic editing capabilities. As you narrow down your choices, try each service’s platform and see how well you can navigate it. 

Speed and shipping options

Depending on how you plan to use the photos, the speed and shipping options a photo printing service offers may be important. Some services print and ship photos in as little as a day. Services offering more professional printing may take longer, but you may be able to speed up the process by purchasing expedited shipping. 

Our top picks for the best photo printing services

Easiest-to-use photo printing service: Mpix 

Mpix features an easy-to-use interface, the ability to store photos and a comprehensive suite of products. Prints are available in more than 30 sizes, and the editing platform offers the ability to perform basic edits without being overwhelming. Since prints ship within one business day and are consistently high-quality, Mpix is an excellent option for most people. 

Specifications: 

  • Free shipping: On orders $35+
  • Photo editing tools: Crop, add effects, add text
  • Gift options: Blankets, tabletop tiles and frames, calendars, magnets, mouse pads, luggage tags, mugs, coasters, towels and more
  • Starting price: $0.36 for a 4x6

What we like:

  • Clear and easy to use
  • Vivid, quality prints
  • Prints available in over 30 sizes
  • Choose from e-surface and metallic finishes
  • Prints and ships in 1 business day
  • Multiple upload options, including from Facebook, Instagram, Google Photos, and Dropbox
  • Handy app for ordering photos from your smartphone
  • Also offers metal collages, ornaments, photo books, holiday cards and more

What we don’t like: 

  • Prices are on the high end
  • Smartphone photos need to be cropped

The bottom line: 

Mpix is easy and intuitive to use, offers a large suite of print options and photo products and prints and ships in one business day. 

Easiest-to-use photo printing service
Mpix

Mpix

Mpix is easy and intuitive to use, offers a large suite of print options and photo products and prints and ships in one business day.

Best photo book printing service: Mixbook

Mixbook specializes in photo book printing, offering more than 150 spreads and fully customizable themes and layouts. The editor allows you to easily edit photos and add elements like stickers and text. Other customization options include the cover type and the page finish. While so many options can be overwhelming, Mixbook puts you fully in control of your book’s design. 

Specifications: 

  • Free shipping: Only with special offers
  • Photo editing tools: Add text, edit layouts, change backgrounds, add stickers, add photo effects, crop photos
  • Gift options: Photo books, calendars, cards, canvas and metal prints, acrylic blocks, poster prints
  • Starting price: $14.99 for a basic book

What we like:

  • More than 150 new 2-page spreads for easy formatting
  • Lay flat, hardcover, and softcover designs
  • Matte, glossy, semi-gloss and lustre finishes available
  • Non-lay flat books available up to 399 pages
  • Can instantly change your entire photo book’s theme
  • AI-generated questions can help save you writing time
  • Support available 24/7
  • Mobile app for iOS

What we don’t like: 

  • No app available for Android
  • Shipping can get expensive
  • So many layout and theme options can be overwhelming

The bottom line: 

Mixbook’s intuitive editor lets you add custom elements like stickers and even AI-generated text, while the ability to choose from three cover options and four page finishes gives you control over the completed book’s appearance. 

Best photo book printing service
Mixbook

Mixbook

Mixbook’s intuitive editor lets you add custom elements like stickers and even AI-generated text, while the ability to choose from three cover options and four page finishes gives you control over the completed book’s appearance.

Best professional photo printing service: Whitewall

For the serious photographer, Whitewall offers top-quality, professional results. The photo uploader only offers cropping capabilities, since it’s assumed that you’ll have already fully edited your images. Prices start at $6.95 for photo prints; choose  professional-quality prints like ultraHD, metallic ultraHD and photo prints on Fuji Crystal paper for superior results compared to other photo printing services. 

Specifications: 

  • Free shipping: No
  • Photo editing tools: Crop
  • Gift options: Photo blocks, acrylic glass stands
  • Starting price: $6.95 for a 4x6

What we like:

  • Custom print formats and sizes
  • 6 professional print options on various papers
  • Offers photo, acrylic, metal, framed, canvas and giclee prints
  • Black and white printing available
  • Exceptional quality prints
  • Excellent custom framing available
  • Satisfaction guarantee
  • Prints backed by a 5-year warranty

What we don’t like: 

  • Delivery time is about 8 business days
  • Prices are significantly more expensive than other services
  • Limited gift options

The bottom line: 

Whitewall offers top-quality professional prints, including photo, acrylic, metal, and canvas prints, and stands behind its products with a five-year warranty.

Best professional photo printing service
Whitewall

Whitewall

Whitewall offers top-quality professional prints, including photo, acrylic, metal, and canvas prints, and stands behind its products with a five-year warranty.

Best quality photo printing service: Printique

Printique is a professional quality printing service that emphasizes producing the best prints and photo products. Printique uses silver halide photo paper and emulsion printing for quality, long-lasting results. You can choose from lustre, glossy, matte, metallic, deep matte, and fine art papers for a customized look, and prints are available in 19 sizes, including wallet. While so many options can be overwhelming, Printique offers an express mode that will apply your setting selections to all of the prints you upload. Uploading photos is easy, and Printique offers the option to import photos from Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, Lightroom, and Google Photos. 

Specifications: 

  • Free shipping: No
  • Photo editing tools: Crop
  • Gift options: Puzzles, drinkware, mini books, coasters, acrylic blocks
  • Starting price: $0.35 for a 4x6

What we like:

  • Top-quality prints and photo products
  • Prints available in multiple papers, including less common options like deep matte and fine art
  • 19 print sizes, including wallet
  • Quality silver halide photo paper and emulsion printing
  • Many premium products available, including metal and glass prints
  • Easy photo upload from your computer, Dropbox, Lightroom, Google Photos, Facebook, and Instagram
  • Free pickup at Printique’s Brooklyn and Manhattan locations
  • Satisfaction guaranteed

What we don’t like: 

  • Shipping information not provided until checkout
  • No editing tools except for cropping
  • More expensive than other services

The bottom line: 

Printique offers top-quality prints and photo products, including less common options like deep matte and fine art finishes, and stands behind its products with a satisfaction guarantee. 

Best quality photo printing service
Printique

Printique

Printique offers top-quality prints and photo products, including less common options like deep matte and fine art finishes, and stands behind its products with a satisfaction guarantee.

Best budget photo printing service: Shutterfly

Shutterfly is a budget-friendly photo printing service that also offers plenty of product choices. Prints are available in 13 sizes, and you can choose from matte, glossy, and pearl papers. While Shutterfly’s prices are already low, you can save even more by downloading the Shutterfly app. App users can access special offers, like unlimited free prints and $2 personalized magnets, and they can also get a 20-page instant book every month. Additionally, Shutterfly often runs sales and offers promo codes that may include product discounts or free shipping. 

Specifications: 

  • Free shipping: For certain orders, sometimes offered with promo codes
  • Photo editing tools: Rotate, crop
  • Gift options: Blankets, ornaments, ceramic mugs, puzzles, magnets, tumblers, phone cases, pillows, calendars, and more
  • Starting price: $0.19 for a 4x6

What we like:

  • Matte, glossy, and pearl papers
  • 13 print sizes, including wallets
  • Editing is limited to rotate and crop
  • Option to include a message on the back of prints
  • Extensive gift options
  • Other products include cards and stationery, photo books, wall art, home decor, and calendars
  • Easily upload photos from your computer, Google Photos, Facebook, or Instagram
  • Get special offers, like unlimited free prints, with the Shutterfly app
  • Often runs specials and shares promo codes
  • Unlimited photo storage when you make a purchase every 18 months
  • Satisfaction guarantee

What we don’t like: 

  • No information on paper quality or print type
  • No free shipping option
  • Print quality isn’t the highest

The bottom line: 

Offering some of the lowest prices, Shutterfly is a budget-friendly photo printing service that stands behind its products with a satisfaction guarantee. 

Best budget photo printing service
Shutterfly

Shutterfly

Offering some of the lowest prices, Shutterfly is a budget-friendly photo printing service that stands behind its products with a satisfaction guarantee.

Best photo printing services for speed: Walmart Photo

When you need photos, gifts, or holiday cards in a hurry, you can order products using the Walmart app, then pick up most products at your local store that same day. Walmart Photo also offers a one-hour printing option when you’re in an even bigger rush. Additionally, there’s no markup for one-hour prints compared to what you’ll pay for prints that you want to have shipped to your home. Walmart offers a decent selection of photo gifts, including photo books, mugs, and pillows. You can also choose from some less common gifts, including photo jewelry, shower curtains, and bath mats. 

Specifications: 

  • Free shipping: Yes, on orders over $35
  • Photo editing tools: Crop, contrast, brightness, add filter, rotate, add enlargement
  • Gift options: Calendars, posters, photo books, mugs, jewelry, desk art, pillows, shower curtains, bath mats, and more
  • Starting price: $0.14 for a 4x6

What we like:

  • Free same day pickup
  • Free shipping on orders over $35
  • Gifts and prints available same-day or within 1 hour
  • No upcharge for 1-hour printing
  • Unique gift options like shower curtains and bath mats
  • Upload photos and place orders using the Walmart app
  • Can upload photos from desktop, phone, Google Photos, Dropbox, and Flickr
  • Affordably priced

What we don’t like: 

  • Limited print finish options
  • No information about photo paper used
  • Limited print sizes 

The bottom line: 

With Walmart Photo, you can order gifts and prints and pick them up same-day in store, or pick up certain items within an hour when you’re in an even bigger rush. 

Best photo printing services for speed
Walmart Photo

Walmart Photo

With Walmart Photo, you can order gifts and prints and pick them up same-day in store, or pick up certain items within an hour when you’re in an even bigger rush.

Best photo printing services for portraits: Nations Photo Lab

Nations Photo Lab gives you plenty of print options, so you can customize the look of your portraits. You can choose from more than 40 print sizes, including some less common options. Lustre, pearl, and glossy papers are available, and the printer has the ability to add a fine art linen texture to any paper, giving your portraits a distinct look. There’s also an option to add on color correction to ensure your prints come out just right. 

Specifications: 

  • Free shipping: On orders $89 and up
  • Photo editing tools: Rotate, crop
  • Gift options: Calendars, photo cubes, ornaments, mugs, keychains, luggage tags, photo books, blankets, coasters, boxes, USB drives, trading cards, sports tickets, magazine covers, and more
  • Starting price: $0.36 for a 4x6

What we like:

  • Kodak Professional Endura or Fujicolor Crystal Archive Super Type PDN photo paper for excellent durability
  • Lustre, pearl, and glossy paper options
  • Add a fine art linen texture to any paper 
  • More than 40 print sizes, including uncommon sizes
  • Photo mounting options include styrene, matboard, foamcore, standout, and gatorboard
  • Color correction available
  • Extensive selection of gifts
  • 5 shipping options available
  • Satisfaction guarantee

What we don’t like: 

  • Prints in 5 days
  • More expensive option

The bottom line: 

Nations Photo Lab offers extensive print customization options, including the ability to add color correction and an art linen texture, to ensure your portraits come out just right. 

Best photo printing services for portraits
Nations Photo Lab

Nations Photo Lab

Nations Photo Lab offers extensive print customization options, including the ability to add color correction and an art linen texture, to ensure your portraits come out just right.

Best photo printing services for mobile photo printing: Snapfish

Snapfish’s True Digital print option is a 4x5.3-inch print, which matches the dimensions of your smartphone photos. This option eliminates the need to crop your photos, making it easy to order prints. Using the Snapfish app, you can upload photos directly from your phone. You’ll also enjoy the perk of being able to get 100 free 4x6 prints per month when you use the app; you’ll just be responsible for shipping. 

Specifications: 

  • Free shipping: Occasionally available with special offers
  • Photo editing tools: Rotate, crop, filters
  • Gift options: Mugs, blankets, puzzles, ornaments, tote bags, apparel, shower curtain, bottle opener, garden flag, and more
  • Starting price: $0.10 for a 4x5.3

What we like:

  • True Digital 4x5.3 format matches dimensions of smartphone photos
  • Available in 7 sizes, including wallets
  • Matte or glossy finishes
  • Pickup at Walgreens available
  • Extensive selection of photo gifts
  • Option to upload photos from your computer, Google Photos, Facebook, and Instagram
  • Easily upload photos and design items from your phone with the Snapfish app
  • With the Snapfish app, you can get 100 free 4x6 prints each month

What we don’t like: 

  • Paper type not identified
  • No option for pearl or lustre finish

The bottom line: 

Snapfish offers a True Digital photo that’s sized to match the dimensions of your smartphone photos, so there’s no need to crop your photos to fit a standard print size. 

Best photo printing services for mobile photo printing
Snapfish

Snapfish

Snapfish offers a True Digital photo that’s sized to match the dimensions of your smartphone photos, so there’s no need to crop your photos to fit a standard print size.

Best photo printing services for photo delivery: Amazon Prints

Your Amazon Prints ship free if you have a Prime account. You can choose from glossy, matte, lustre, and pearl papers, and Amazon says photos are printed on Fujicolor Crystal Archive Paper to ensure quality prints. Amazon Prime users enjoy unlimited free photo storage, as well as other perks, like image recognition which lets you search your stored photos by people, places, or things for easy photo retrieval.

Specifications: 

  • Free shipping: Yes, with Amazon Prime
  • Photo editing tools: Rotate, filters, brightness, contrast, add text
  • Gift options: Blankets, coffee mugs, mouse pads, ornaments
  • Starting price: $0.17 for a 4x6

What we like:

  • Available with glossy, matte, lustre, and pearl papers
  • Fujicolor Crystal Archive Paper for quality results
  • Free unlimited photo storage with Amazon Prime
  • Amazon Photos mobile app makes it easy to upload photos straight from your phone
  • Stored photos can be image-recognized and searchable by people, places, or things
  • Family Vault photo storage allows you to collect photos with other family members
  • Free Prime delivery

What we don’t like:

  • Limited gift options
  • Most storage features only available to Amazon Prime members
  • Limited photo editing options

The bottom line: 

With Amazon Prints, it’s easy to upload, store, and print photos, plus Amazon Prime users will enjoy free shipping and free unlimited photo storage. 

Best photo printing services for photo delivery
Amazon Prints

Amazon Prints

With Amazon Prints, it’s easy to upload, store, and print photos, plus Amazon Prime users will enjoy free shipping and free unlimited photo storage.

Best photo printing services for canvas prints: Canvas Champ

Canvas Champ specializes in photo canvases, and as a result, this print service offers more customization options and better pricing than you’ll find with many other printers. To start, you can choose from eight canvas shapes, including unique options like circles, triangles, ovals, and hearts. Eight canvas sizes are also available, and you can choose from three canvas wrap options to customize the look of your canvas. Frame options are also available. 

Specifications: 

  • Free shipping: Sometimes available with discount codes
  • Photo editing tools: Add text
  • Gift options: Blankets, pillows, mugs, photo boots, tote bags, playing cards, puzzles, umbrellas, aprons, and more
  • Starting price: $3.89 for the smallest canvas

What we like:

  • 8 canvas shapes including square, panoramic, circle, triangle, oval, and heart
  • 8 canvas sizes
  • 3 canvas wrap options including thick, standard, and thin wrap
  • Frame options for canvas prints include wooden, 3D floating, and a variety of frame sizes
  • Small photo canvases can accommodate smartphone photos
  • Canvases coated with a protective, scratch-resistant UV laminate (optional)
  • Retouching services for red eye removal, color enhancement, lighten and darken, dust and scratch removal, and date stamp removal
  • Custom sizing available
  • 60-day return policy
  • Low pricing
  • Ships within 24 hours
  • Lifetime warranty on canvases
  • Satisfaction guarantee

What we don’t like: 

  • Larger canvases can be very expensive
  • No included editing tools
  • Protective laminate coating costs extra

The bottom line: 

Canvas Champ gives you extensive customization options, including the ability to choose from canvas shapes like hearts and triangles, the option to choose from eight canvas sizes, and the ability to choose from three wrap options. 

Best photo printing services for canvas prints
Canvas Champ

Canvas Champ

Canvas Champ gives you extensive customization options, including the ability to choose from canvas shapes like hearts and triangles, the option to choose from eight canvas sizes, and the ability to choose from three wrap options.

Best photo printing services for gifts: Zazzle

Zazzle offers an extensive selection of gift items you can customize with your photos, custom text, and more. Available gifts include plaques, mugs, blankets, watches, calendars, phone cases, and more, and each gift type is available in seemingly countless variations. For example, mugs are available in many different styles, materials, and sizes, so you can choose a gift just right for the recipient. 

Specifications: 

  • Free shipping: Available with Zazzle Plus subscription
  • Photo editing tools: Crop, rotate, flip, scale, filters, and more
  • Gift options: Photo keychains, plaques, mugs, totes and bags, blankets, phone cases, apparel, calendars, posters and prints, pillows, blocks, watches
  • Starting price: $0.68 for a 4x6

What we like:

  • Extensive selection of products
  • Includes some unique items like watches
  • Officially licensed merchandise from brands like Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, Harry Potter, and DC
  • Many editing capabilities, including option to add text, icons, and layers
  • Selection of backgrounds available for use
  • Option to sell items
  • 25% student discount
  • Love-it guarantee for an exchange, credit, or refund for all orders

What we don’t like: 

  • So many product options can be overwhelming
  • Design tool is moderately difficult to use

The bottom line: 

Zazzle offers a great selection of fully customizable gifts, and each gift type is available in many varieties, so you can choose the gift just right for the recipient. 

Best photo printing services for gifts
Zazzle

Zazzle

Zazzle offers a great selection of fully customizable gifts, and each gift type is available in many varieties, so you can choose the gift just right for the recipient.

How we selected the best photo printing services

In choosing the best photo printing services, I looked for platforms that balanced quality and price. I considered each service’s customer reviews, as well as the photo types and price packages available. 

I also looked for photo-printing services that offered a broad selection of products, including cards, canvases, gift items, and a variety of print sizes. I considered whether you could choose from different paper types and looked for an easy upload and shopping process. Finally, I considered each service’s shipping options and speed. I gave bonus points for great customer service and the availability of shipping discounts. 

How to get better prints

Bjorn explains that getting better prints starts when the picture is taken. He recommends you follow general pointers, like moving the subject into a well-lit area. “A well-lit photograph will always print better than a dark one, so make sure you’re getting it right in camera,” he says. Post-processing software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom can help you to further adjust your photos. 

“Before sending your photos for printing, calibrate your computer monitor to ensure the colors and brightness you see on screen accurately represent how they will appear in print,” Perelmuter recommends. He notes that it’s also important to consider the type of paper that you’re printing on. “If your photos will be printed with borders or mounted on a canvas, account for any necessary cropping or bleeding in your image composition,” he says. 

Bjorn notes that if you plan to print photos from your phone, it's particularly important to make sure you’re providing them in the right resolution. “Phone photos are often in 72 or 144 dpi (dots per inch) resolution, where printers need a resolution of 300 dpi to print well,” he says. “This is why you often see bad results from chains, as no conversion happens and they just print what comes. So as [a photo printing service] if you need to do anything before sending your files.” 

Printing services to avoid

Like choosing the best places to order custom t-shirts online, research is key. Perelmuter recommends you avoid any photo printing services that don’t provide clear information about their printing processes, materials used, pricing, and shipping. “If you come across numerous negative reviews about a particular printing service, especially regarding print quality, customer service, or delivery issues, it’s wise to steer clear,” he says. “Be cautious of services that offer prices that seem too good to be true.” 

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Where can you get cheap photo prints? 

Perelmuter notes that photo printing services like Snapfish offer regular discounts and deals on photo prints, photo books, and other personalized items. Walgreens Photo also offers competitive prices on print sizes, and you can often find online coupons. “Costco Photo requires a membership, but offers cost-effective photo options,” he says.

What’s the best photo printing service for gifts and greeting cards? 

Zazzle offers an excellent selection of photo gifts and greeting cards, including photo plaques, keychains, mugs, totes, pillows, phone cases, and more. Zazzle’s photo uploader is easy to use, so you can customize gifts and cards. 

Where can you get metal prints, wood prints and framing? 

Several photo printing services offer metal prints and wood prints, and finding the best online framing service can add a distinctive look to your images. Perelmuter notes Whitewall is known for its high-quality metal, acrylic, and wood prints, and it also offers professional framing services. 

What are the best services for editing, ordering and sharing photos? 

“Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are industry-standard tools for photo editing,” says Perelmuter. “Lightroom offers powerful non-destructive editing and organization features, while Photoshop is more advanced and suitable for detailed retouching and manipulation.” 

When it comes to ordering and sharing photos, Smugmug lets you create customizable portfolios and galleries that you can share with clients or the public, he says.

Which photo printing service has the best app? 

Chatbooks is known for its app and for story-based prints and photo books. “The app lets you automatically create photo books from your social media photos,” Perelmuter says.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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