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Quickly Create Prints from Digital Images Taken and Stored on an iPhone or iPad

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Jason R. Rich explains a few different options for creating prints from digital images that were taken or that are being stored on your iPhone (or iPad). With a few taps on your smartphone screen, creating standard size prints, or even professionally printed photo books or photo products (such as iPhone cases, coffee mugs and mouse pads), is easy and inexpensive.
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Apple continues to boast that the iPhone is now the most frequently used camera in the world. Every day, millions of digital photos are taken and stored on iPhones. Although sharing these images with others online is a straightforward process, creating traditional 4" x 6" or 5" x 7" prints, for example, is an option that far fewer people take advantage of.

When it comes to creating prints from the images stored within an iPhone or iPad, you have a handful of inexpensive and easy options.

Create Prints Using an AirPrint-Compatible Photo Printer

Thanks to the AirPrint feature that's built into iOS 7, from the Photos or iPhoto app, as well as from many third-party photography apps, it's possible to link your smartphone or tablet to an AirPrint-compatible home photo printer in order to create prints.

AirPrint-compatible photo printers are offered by a handful of popular printer manufacturers, including HP, Canon, and Epson. For a complete list, visit Apple's website. Prices of these printers start at less than $100.00.

What you need to understand about home photo printers is that to generate professional quality prints, you need to use high-quality photo paper and to make sure that the printer has good quality ink cartridges installed.

Depending on the printer make and model, replacement ink cartridges can cost $40.00 or more, and can generate between 50 and 200 5" x 7" prints, for example.

In terms of photo paper, it comes in packages of 25, 50, or 100 sheets, and is available in precut sizes that easily fit into the adjustable paper tray(s) built into your photo printer. The quality of photo paper is rated using a star-based system. To generate the best results, use five-star rated photo paper.

You can also choose the photo paper finish. Popular options include glossy, semigloss, or matte—although higher-end photo paper is also available in a luster or pearl finish (which is typically what professional photographers use for portraits and wedding albums, for example).

Using a home photo printer allows you to easily create standard size prints (4" x 6", 5" x 7", 8" x 10", 8.5" x 11", or wallet size prints) in the quantities you want and from the convenience of your home. Depending on the printer, ink, and photo paper you purchase, your cost per print will vary from $0.30 to $0.75 each.

Use a Specialty Photo Printer Designed for the iPhone

Several manufacturers sell portable, battery-powered "cube" printers designed specifically for creating 4" x 6" prints from the iPhone or iPad. Depending on the printer model, either a dock is built into the printer (into which you place your mobile device) or the smartphone/tablet's USB cable is used. In some cases, a wireless option is available.

The benefit of using one of these cube printers is that the photo paper and ink come in a single cartridge, and the printer weights under 3 pounds, so it can be used just about anywhere. The price for these printers ranges between $150.00 and $225.00, and the replacement ink/paper cartridges are priced about $30.00. Each cartridge creates 36 prints.

The drawback of using this type of specialty photo printer is that they can only create professional[ns]quality 4" x 6" prints, which can be used in traditional photo albums or standard size frames, for example.

The following specialty printers are currently available:

Order Prints Directly from Apple's iPhoto App

Instead of using the Photos app that comes preinstalled with iOS 7, you can easily upgrade to Apple's iPhoto app for free. In addition to offering a more diverse set of tools for viewing, organizing, editing, enhancing, and sharing photos using an iPhone or iPad, the iPhoto app can link directly with Apple's own photo lab.

From the iPhoto app, it's possible to select images within the app, upload them directly to Apple's photo lab, and have prints created in the quantities, sizes, and photo paper finishes of your choice. The cost of the prints is charged to the credit or debit card you have linked to your Apple ID account, and the prints can be shipped to any address you provide.

The benefit of ordering prints from Apple's photo lab via the iPhoto app is that you don't have to manually enter your name, billing address, shipping address, and credit card information each time you place an order. As a result, the ordering process is fast and efficient. Another benefit is that prints can be ordered from within the iPhoto app as long as your smartphone or tablet has Internet access.

Apple's photo lab allows you to choose between 4" x 6", 5" x 7" or 8" x 10" standard size prints, as well as create square prints in three different sizes (4" x 4", 5" x 5", and 8" x 8"). You can just as easily order poster-size prints in either of two sizes (16" x 20" or 20" x 30"); or choose to have panoramic prints created that are 4", 5", or 8" wide, by up to 18", 22.5", and 36" long, respectively.

Using Apple's photo lab, the cost per print starts at just $0.12 (for a 4" x 6" print), and you can choose between a glossy or matte finish for any print sizes you choose. Once an order is placed, the prints will arrive at the shipping address you provide, typically within 5 to 7 business days. An additional $3.99 per-order shipping fee applies.

From the iPhoto app, simply select the image(s) from which you want to create prints; tap the Share icon; and from the app's expanded Share menu, tap the Order Prints option. The app will walk you through the ordering process, which takes less than 3 minutes.

Take Advantage of a Local One-Hour Photo Lab

Many one-hour photo labs located within mass-market retail stores (such as Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco) and pharmacies (including Walgreen's, CVS, and Rite-Aid) have their own proprietary iPhone/iPad apps that allow you to access images stored within your mobile device and order prints in the sizes and quantities of your choice.

Once an order is placed using one of these apps, the images are transferred to the local one-hour lab location you select, and your prints will be waiting for you to pick up, typically within 1 hour. The benefit of using one of these services is that the cost to create prints is very low. Typically, you'll pay between $0.07 and $0.15 per 4" x 6" print. You can also choose your photo paper finish.

To order prints directly from your iPhone or iPad for pickup at your favorite mass-market retailer or pharmacy, begin by downloading the free app from the retailer or pharmacy you want to use. These apps are all available from the App Store. Keep in mind that most are not photography-specific apps.

For example, to order prints from Costco, download the official Costco app. From the main menu, scroll to find the Photo Center option and then tap it.

The first time you use one of these apps, you have to create a free online account. For subsequent orders, the actual ordering process is more streamlined.

Order Prints Online Using a Specialty App

Yet another option for ordering prints directly from your iPhone or iPad is to use a professional, online-based photo lab. These services typically offer more options for print sizes and finishes, and use higher-quality photo paper and inks, but they can be slightly more expensive than a one-hour lab.

A benefit of using many of these online photo printing services is that they also allow you to create online galleries for free, which can be shared with others. Plus, you can often order photo products as well as prints that feature your images.

Some of the popular options for ordering prints from an online photo lab directly from your iPhone or iPad, include Shutterfly, FreePrints, MotoPhoto, MailPix, Mpix Tap To Print, RitzPix, and Perfect Image Prints.

These apps are all available from the App Store. The print sizes, photo paper finishes, print prices, and overall print quality varies, based on which lab you choose.

Create Custom Photo Books or Photo Products Directly from Your iPhone or iPad

In addition to creating or ordering professional-quality prints directly from your iOS mobile device, several companies have specialty apps that allow you to design and create photo products that feature your images. Each company has its own proprietary app, and each is capable of helping you design and order different types of photo-related products.

The following is a small sampling of what's possible:

  •   Shutterfly: The Shutterfly app can be used to create online galleries to share with others, as well as to order prints in a wide range of sizes and finishes. In addition, the app allows you to create dozens of different photo products, such as iPhone cases, mugs, T-shirts, stickers, holiday ornaments, greeting cards, posters, and mouse pads that feature one or more of your photos. The prices are reasonable and the quality is top-notch. Creating photo products is easier on an iPad, but the Shutterfly app works find on an iPhone.
  •   Canvas Prints: Instead of creating prints on photo paper, Canvas Prints allows you to select your favorite images and have them printed on museum-quality canvas in a variety of sizes. This option is more expensive than traditional prints, but no frame is required, and the canvas prints look awesome hanging on a wall. They're available in the following sizes: 12" x 8", 12" x 12", 15" x 10", 16" x 16", 24" x 24", 24" x 30", and 30" x 30". The printed canvases can be shipped to the address you provide or can be picked up on the same day from most Walgreen's pharmacy locations.
  •   Kindred: The free Kindred app allows you to create what the company calls photo booklets. These are 5.5-inch-square photo books, printed in full-color on card stock, which can showcase up to 20 images you select (one per page). The app allows you to select the order of the images, plus add text-based titles or captions, as well as themed borders. You can pay per photo booklet ordered ($11.95) or $5.99 per month as a subscription, and receive one free Kindred photo booklet per month, plus be able to order additional booklets for $5.00 each. (U.S. shipping is included.) For more information, download the Kindred app or visit www.kindredprints.com on the web.
  •   StickyGram: If you're active on Instagram and share your photos online using this service, the independent StickyGram service allows you to select up to 9 of your favorite Instagram photos at a time, and create a sheet of colorful 2"-square refrigerator magnets ($14.99 per sheet of 9 magnets). The company also allows you to create photo collages using your images, which are imprinted on iPhone or iPad covers ($34.99 to $44.99 each). Instead of using a special app, visit the company's website to design your magnets or mobile device cases.
  •   Blurb: Many companies, including Blurb, offer powerful and free software for a PC or Mac that allow you to design professional looking hardcover or softcover photo books that feature your images. Blurb also offers a proprietary app that allows you to design 7" x 7" photo books (starting at $12.99 each) directly from your mobile device and have the printed books shipped directly to you. A digital version of the photo books can be shared online with friends. Using the Blurb BookSmart software on a PC or Mac, however, many more options are available for creating truly one-of-a-kind photo books. For an additional fee, it's possible to create an eBook version of the photo book that's compatible with the iBooks app.

Final Thoughts...

As long as you're already taking photos using the cameras built into your iPhone or iPad, why not start creating prints from those images that can be included within photo albums, displayed within picture frames, added to scrapbooks, or shared with friends and relatives? Creating prints from images taken using your iOS mobile device has gotten much easier, and the process is both fast and affordable.

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