How to Print Photos at Home

With the right equipment, it's easy and fun

Smartphone connected to the wireless printer is laying on the desk

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One of the great things about digital photography versus film photography is that you only need to make prints of the photos that look great. (With film photography, the film processing service sent you prints for every photo you snapped, even that blurry shot of the hummingbird in your yard or the one where you had your thumb over the viewer.) Printing only your best photos at home is simple and cost-effective, as long as you have the right printer and techniques. Here are some tips to help you get the best results.

Use High-Quality Paper

Perhaps the best thing you can do to make high-quality digital photo prints at home is to use specialty photo paper. Either glossy or matte photo paper works much better than standard printing paper. But because specialty photo paper can be expensive, be sure to only print your best photos on it.

Match Aspect Ratios

Another key component to consider when printing photos at home is making sure the image you want to print uses the same aspect ratio as the paper on which you’ll print it. If you try to print a photo where the aspect ratio of the image doesn’t match the size of the paper, the printer might inadvertently crop or stretch the photo, leaving you with an odd-looking print.

Consider Inkjet vs. Laser Technology

An inkjet printer should give you some outstanding color prints, so don’t think you have to invest in a laser printer to achieve great prints. Most inkjet printers can handle the job more than adequately.

Watch IPM Measurement

If you’re looking for a new inkjet printer, pay attention to the “images per minute” measurement, which should help you compare models. The IPM tells you the speed of the printer as an objective measurement. Other speed measurements, such as pages per minute (PPM), can be tweaked by the printer manufacturer, so don't rely on them to compare printers.

Print at "Best" Setting

If you have the time, be sure to set up your photos to print at the “best” setting. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference this setting makes versus the “normal” or “fast” setting. Just keep in mind that it does take two to five times as long to print a photo in “best” mode.

Edit First, Then Print

It may be tempting to print your photo and look for flaws and areas to edit on the print, then make adjustments and print again. But you'll waste paper and ink if you do it this way. Instead, look at the image on a sharp computer monitor, make your editing changes, and only print once.

Keep an Eye on Costs

When you're printing photos at home, it's easy to forget about the cost of each print. But printing photos at home does cost money. For example, if you print a series of large color photos you'll use quite a bit of ink. If you have a large number of photos to print, taking them to a professional printing business may actually end up costing less.