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Best photo printing online 2021: Photo to Print services

Best Photo Printing Online 2021: Photo to Print services
(Image credit: Shutterfly)

It's simple: the best photo printing online services will turn your digital pictures (and film, if you still use it) into physical photos. They offer a variety of photo printing services, and you can get your images printed out in different sizes, on different materials, and even onto gift items. Most people opt for simple 6x4 and 7x5 photographs on regular paper, but you can have things like large poster prints made, canvases, and all kinds of other custom options.

When creating our list of the best photo printing online providers we tried to include a mixture of services to suit most needs. So, for example, if you want to do the whole process online and get the best service possible, we've included a bunch of websites dedicated to printing and shipping photos direct to you. Just be aware that this process can take a few days, so you'll need to wait, and you'll have to pay for shipping.

Alternatively, if time is tight, and you live near a store, we have a range of photo printing companies who will accept online orders, and print them within a matter of hours. You may pay a little more per print, but there is no shipping involved, and you get your photos same day.

If you want to prep your images in advance, we recommend the best photo editing software in our guide, and if you'd rather print your pictures at home, we have a list of the best photo printers to buy.


1. Walgreens: Best photo printing online overall

Walgreens

(Image credit: Walgreens)

Walgreens

With excellent print quality, a great app, and in-store options Walgreens is our top pick

Excellent photo quality
Website is easy to use
Great app for ordering prints
Not the cheapest site overall
Glossy prints don't print as accurately as the matte

We're all familiar with Walgreens, and for us they offer the best service overall for photo printing. Not only are the prints excellent clarity and color accuracy, but there are a wide variety of gifting options, including canvas prints, blankets, and even photo books. You can get your photos printed quickly and to a high standard, and the Walgreens app makes it even easier to do this task. We like that you can store an unlimited number of images in the app, and that you can grab images from Instagram and Facebook to print. And, while most will prefer to use separate image editors like Lightroom to enhance their pictures, there are basic options in the Walgreens app to adjust the pictures before you order prints.

Walgreens offers a variety of delivery options, from standard to overnight shipping, and you can even get international shipping if you need it. If you are in a hurry, photo books, prints and a few select photo gifts can be ordered for same-day, in-store pickup.

Our only real criticisms of Walgreens is that not all stores offer the same variety of photo gifts, so some options will be unavailable to pick-up. We also noticed that the quality between matte and gloss prints varied a little, with the matte prints a little sharper than the gloss ones. Overall, though, this is the place we'd go to get our photos printed.


2. Snapfish: Best budget photo printing

Snapfish

(Image credit: Snapfish)

Snapfish

A great budget option that doesn't sacrifice on quality

Good, easy to use mobile app
Excellent range of holiday options
Great value
Average print quality

Snapfish is one of the biggest international players in photo printing, and that means it offers a fantastic variety of print options and gifts, often for excellent prices. It was cheaper for most types of printing than the other services we tested, even if the quality of the printing was merely average. It's by no means poor, but we found that services like Walgreens give slightly better clarity and color reproduction.

One massive advantage of Snapfish is the huge range of occasions and holidays it covers with its photo gifts. We noticed that they had several that we didn't see on most other printing sites, including Diwali, Zwanzaa, and the Chinese New Year. You'll also find designs and stickers from the most common holiday themes like Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's, Halloween and Valentine's Day to spice up your pictures. 

Snapfish has basic photo editing tools like crop, color correction, and brightness and contrast adjustments. In fact, the web-based software is designed to automatically remove redeye, color correct and rotate any images that need editing when you upload them. The mobile app allows you to add images to your library on the go or order prints at your convenience.

It's worth noting that if you were a York Photo customer, they are now part of Snapfish.


3. Shutterfly: Best for color

Shutterfly

(Image credit: Shutterfly)

Shutterfly

If you want your photos to pop, Shutterfly could be the service for you

Good print quality
Site is user-friendly
Numerous photo gifts are available
No overnight delivery
Some options are relatively expensive

Shutterfly’s photo prints had amazing color accuracy, although we'd say their overall clarity was merely average next to the likes of Snapfish and Walgreens. This runs across basic prints and all the gifts that Shutterfly offers. Photo gifts, including tote bags, plates, phone cases and even Christmas stockings, are available. What's more, this service not only delivers, but also allows you to pick up images from your local Target, which can be a lifesaver when you're short on time. That's good, as there is no overnight option for shipping.

The site is incredibly easy to use and offers tutorials if you want to design something new, which is great if you struggle with things like photo books. Shutterfly's app allows you to upload and order your favorite images on the go, and you can upload from social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Google Photo, Flickr and Smugmug. You can even create a Share Site to collect images from family and friends for your projects. The simple editor allows basic edits to your images before ordering, but it isn't the best we've seen.

In terms of price, we'd say that Shutterfly is middle of the road - not the cheapest, nor the most expensive.


4. Walmart Photo: Best for photo gifts

Walmart Photo Center

(Image credit: Walmart)

Walmart Photo Center

If you want more than basic prints, Walmart has the best range of options

Walmart offers a wide range of affordable photo gifts.
The color quality wasn't the best.

Walmart Photo Center is a great place to get prints, and the service is extremely fast and reliable. While the print quality on the images isn't as sharp as Walgreens, and the color not as vivid as you see on Shutterfly, we love the sheer variety of gifts and printing options available at Walmart. Plus, many of these gifts can be ordered, printed, and collected within 24-hours if you're willing to pick up from one of the many Walmart stores across the country. If you're stuck for a last-minute gift idea... this is a great option.

You can get regular printed gifts like large prints, photobooks, calendars and canvas prints. However, Walmart Photo also sells customizable mugs, pillows, blankets, necklaces, phone cases, puzzles, tote bags, cards, plates and more, all at low prices. There is also a decent selection of holiday themes that you can add to your photos for festive occasions, although it can't match Snapfish for the range of options here. Depending on the availability at your store, you can order and pickup your photo gifts within 24 hours or less, a great idea if you need a thoughtful gift made quickly.

The Walmart Photo prints site is straight forward and easy to use, and you can store as many photos as you want on your Walmart Photo account. Even better, the mobile app lets you do this from any location, with ease.


5. Artifact Uprising: Superb quality prints

Artifact Uprising

(Image credit: Artefact Uprising)

Artifact Uprising

Great quality prints that come with a satisfaction guarantee

Excellent print quality
Guarantee on prints and products
Classy range of gifts
Not the widest selection of printing options
Little customization offered

What sets Artifact Uprising apart is the quality of its prints. You get gorgeous glossy photos, or a limited range of classic gifts, printed on excellent paper with great color reproduction and clarity. The trade-off, however, is that you do tend to pay much more than standard services like Walgreens and Walmart. However, we think that if you need something high-quality, like wedding photos, then it's worth the investment. You will often find promo codes for Artifact Uprising, but they're never as deep as the ones on other sites.

The limited range of photo gifts is also slightly hampered by the fact that there is limited personal customization offered, and some of the templates for the photo books and cards feel very rigid. You won't get the same range of gifts for the various holidays here as you do with other sites.

So, expensive, but high quality. If you want any of the classic photo services, and you'd rather pay to get something special, this is a great place to shop. But other providers do better at the basics.


How Much Do Photo Printing Services Cost?

If there's one thing we learned from our years of testing and research, it's that there is no consistently inexpensive service. Let us tell you what we mean: you can find a 4 x 6 print for as little as $0.09 on one website but then find that the same service has one of the priciest options for 5 x 7 prints. Similarly, a company might sell the most expensive 4 x 6 prints and yet charge the least for a canvas print, so you shouldn't assume that your favorite service for ordering photo gifts is the most economical service for ordering prints and vice versa. Remember that you can find really good promos and discounts for prints and photo gifts near holidays, but you will want to give the company plenty of time to print your order if you purchase at these busy times; rush jobs near holidays will cost you extra.

To help you further, we've broken down the average costs of the most commonly purchased prints and photo gifts based on the companies we compared:

4 x 6 Prints – We found that the least expensive companies only charged $0.09 per print while the most expensive company charged $0.29. This doesn't include the cost of shipping or taxes.

5 x 7 Prints – Individual prints ranged from $0.58 to $2.49. The most common price range being around $0.75 cents before tax and shipping.

8 x 10 Prints – We found the least expensive option was $1.59 per print, while the most expensive was $4.99. The average price was between $3 and $4 per print before tax and shipping was factored in.

11 x 14 Prints – The least expensive choice was $3.85 per print while the most expensive was $10.99. The most common price was about $8 before tax and shipping.

11 x 14 Wrapped Canvas Prints – The least expensive canvas print was only $29.99 while the most expensive was $89.99. The average price for a 11 x 14 canvas was between $30 to $60 before tax and shipping.

8.5 x 11 Photo Book – The least expensive price for a single 20-page hardback was $24.99, while the most expensive option was $70.00. Companies most frequently offered these books between $30 and $35. Keep in mind that prices will vary depending on the embellishments, number of pages and cover options you choose. Many companies offer large quantity discounts for photo books, but the discount will depend on the number of books you order. We recommend Mixbook as our best overall pick for photo books.

8 x 11 Calendar – The least expensive calendar option we found only cost $17.47 while the most expensive cost $34.99. Typically, companies sold 8 x 11 calendars for about $20 before shipping and taxes were factored in. Some companies will offer discounts if you order a large number of calendars at once. The discount will depend on how many calendars you purchase and the company you purchase through.

How importand are additional gift printing options?

Most printing services allow you to purchase a range of photo gifts that go beyond calendars, canvas prints and other basic paper products. For instance, many companies, like Walgreen’s Photo Center, allow you to print photos on mugs, blankets, puzzles, decks of cards, coasters, furniture pillows and even iPhone cases. These make the perfect personal gifts for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, Christmas and special events. The photo gift options will vary from one company to the next. Many printing services also allow you to create your own stationary like custom paper, envelope designs, notebooks and note cards. Services that offer custom stationary include several beautiful original designs to choose from, so you are likely to find something that works for you. You can also use photo card companies to create custom wedding or party invitations, as well as thank you notes and greeting cards.

How fast can you get photo prints?

When you need to get prints of your favorite photos fast, picking up at a brick and mortar store is the way to go. Most companies will allow you to print at Walgreens Photo, CVS Photo and Walmart Photo. In our testing, Walgreens had the best print quality out of these three. Shutterfly had the second best print quality in our testing, and this service lets you pick up prints at your local Target. If you order directly at a physical Walgreens, CVS or Walmart, you’ll likely be able to have photos in hand within one hour of ordering them, whereas you’ll have to wait at least two days for processing and shipping if you order prints for delivery from an online store. Admittedly, two days isn’t very long to wait unless you’re in a time crunch and need your photos fast. Be aware that some sizes and print finishes are only available for mail order.