Tips for printing digital photos at home
It's easy to capture and preserve memories as digital snapshots with Windows 7 and Windows 8, and it's just as easy to transform your memories into stunning scrapbooks or photo albums.
If you'd like to create professional-looking photo prints at home , here are a few hints and tips that will help you produce sharper, more eye-catching results.
A little care is all it takes to turn photos into gorgeous prints.
Maximize image quality
The best prints come from the finest images. Help improve picture quality by following these suggestions:
1. Increase photo resolution
As a rule, the higher the resolution, the better the picture. Most digital cameras offer a choice of settings. Check your camera's instructions to figure out how to change the image resolution. For premium printing results, always select the maximum offered photo size and quality.
Here are some good resolution guidelines to consider:
2 megapixels: Appropriate for an attractive wallet-sized (2.5-by-3.5-inch) or album‑sized (4-by-6-inch) print
3 megapixels: Minimum resolution required for projects like calendars and greeting cards or 5-by-7-inch reproductions
5 or 6 megapixels: A resolution that offers better image quality for use with craft projects. Also suitable for printing and framing an 11-by-14-inch photo to hang at home
8 megapixels: A resolution that's capable of providing attractive 16-by-20-inch prints
10 megapixels or more: Optimal for printing larger (20-by-30-inch) projects, including posters and panoramas
The more you increase photo resolution, the more you'll improve image clarity and detail.
A higher image resolution (left) produces a sharper snapshot.
2. Choose the correct file format
The JPEG file format, which compresses image data, is suitable for emailing pictures or posting them to the web. For photo-printing purposes though, it generally pays to stick with larger TIFF files. Despite consuming more space on a memory card, TIFF images are smoother, crisper, and vastly superior to their JPEG counterparts.
3. Edit and enhance images
Use programs such as Photo Gallery (Windows 7 and Windows 8) to soften edges, experiment with lighting and color, remove blemishes, and touch up your photos. It's a simple way to add special effects, get rid of red eye, and otherwise improve your snapshots. You can even create a panorama and merge images with Photo Fuse. Read more articles about how to make simple fixes to your digital photos, take better pictures, capture the perfect moment, and create online photo albums.
Enterprising shutterbugs can even use Microsoft Photosynth to transform their images into three-dimensional scenes.
Add special effects to spice up any photo.
Prepare your printer
Enhance print quality by configuring your printer for optimum results.
1. Use current drivers
Drivers are software interpreters that let your computer and printer communicate, but printer manufacturers are constantly revising them. Always use the most current drivers to help ensure peak performance and picture quality, and check your printer manufacturer's website regularly for downloadable updates. Learn how to find and install printer drivers in Windows 7 and Windows 8.
2. Don't skimp on dots per inch
The higher your printer's dots per inch (dpi) specifications, the better the prints it will produce. Avoid images that suffer from frayed and jagged edges by using a printer with 600 x 600 dpi or better when printing color photos. Once you've familiarized yourself with basic printer types, you can find photo printers for sale at the Microsoft Store.
3. Configure print quality settings
After installing your printer (Windows 7 or Windows 8), check your owner's manual for instructions on how to change print quality settings. Remember that it's always important to choose the right print options and preferences before printing. In Windows 8, you'll want to understand how to use the Devices and Settings charms. Detailed instructions on how to print pictures (Windows 7 or Windows 8) are also available that can help you get the most from your images, as are answers to frequently asked questions (Windows 7 or Windows 8).
4. Managing paper
Different types of paper, such as high gloss or card stock, require varying amounts of ink and touch-ups. When setting printing preferences, be sure to tell your printer which type you're using to help ensure first-rate results and to avoid wasting expensive stock.
5. Ongoing maintenance
It's a good idea to run printer alignment, color calibration, and print cartridge cleaning functions every 90 days. Doing so helps prevent blurring, streaking, and off-center photo prints. See your printer's owner's manual for instructions on how to perform this maintenance.
Pick the right paper and ink
Help improve photo prints by selecting paper and ink that perfectly complement your images.
1. Go with photo paper
Standard printer paper isn't suitable for creating pleasing photo prints. Unless you're printing documents, choose a glossy or matte finish photo paper instead. Black-and-white prints generally look best on matte finish papers, and color tends to look best on glossy paper.
2. Creativity counts
Multiple varieties of paper stock are available, designed for a wide range of specialty uses. These special-purpose materials can enhance any photo printing project. Whether incorporating your photos into decals, business cards, or T-shirts, before starting a new project, browse the selection at your preferred office supply store or electronics retailer.
3. Choose the right size
Photos come in many sizes, from wallet-sized (2.5-by-3.5-inch) to album/scrapbook-ready (4-by-6-inch or 5-by-7-inch) prints. Match the paper to fit.
Alternately, choose a standard letter-sized (8.5-by-11-inch) paper to squeeze several smaller images onto one sheet. With Windows Photo Viewer and Photo Gallery, you can also easily print single or multiple photos, or order prints online.
Windows Photo Viewer makes printing multiple photos a breeze.
4. Get inked
Resistance to water, smudging, aging, and fading varies by ink type. Which type you should pick depends entirely on how much you're willing to spend for various image‑enhancing qualities. It's safest to choose an ink recommended by the manufacturer of your printer.
Print photos from your phone
To print photos from your Windows Phone, you'll need to either download them to your PC or upload them to SkyDrive. Once they are in either location, you can print them like you do any other digital photo.
1. Download from your phone to your PC
Download photos to your PC using the sync software that works with your Windows Phone: Zune for Windows Phone 7, or an app for Windows Phone 8. To download photos from a phone other than Windows Phone, refer to the instructions included with your phone.
2. Upload from your phone to SkyDrive
One of the easiest ways to work with photos on your Windows Phone is to automatically upload them to SkyDrive (Windows 7 or Windows 8). If you don't want to automatically upload all your photos, you can manually upload selected photos. But first install the SkyDrive app for Windows Phone, iOS, or Android.
Once your photos have been uploaded to SkyDrive, you can download them to your PC and print from home or send them to an online service for professional printing (Windows 7 or Windows 8). If you're just printing a couple of photos, you can select them one at a time, right-click, and select Print directly from your SkyDrive folder.
Using SkyDrive is an easy way to download and print photos from your Windows Phone.
Always align new print cartridges.
Experiment with free or commercial photo-editing software to eliminate image imperfections and to improve your subjects' already stunning good looks.
Practice by making test prints. Try reducing image size and creating multiple prints on a single sheet of paper to cut down on wasted materials.
Before placing photos in an album or framing them, give the ink approximately 12 hours to dry.
Remember that Windows Photo Viewer and Photo Gallery make it possible to order prints online.
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