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I tried Google Photos' printing service: Great prices, unmatched convenience

From developed photos to digital photos to printed photos, I've gone full circle.
By
February 18, 2023
A bunch of photo prints, ordered from Google Photos prints, on a yellow background. The top one shows a smiling man with Christmas lights in the background.
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

I haven’t printed photos since I got my first digital camera around the mid-2000s. The ability to snap and save, and snap and save, without wasting precious paper or accumulating hundreds of blurry prints from every birthday and picnic, was a game-changer. Up until December 2022, I had never even considered the idea of printing a digital photo, convinced that I preferred the diversity of the Google Photos album feature on my Google Nest Hub.

But something changed in the last month. Call it nostalgia, personalization, or a subconscious influence from my sister-in-law, the end result is that I found myself looking at photo frames on Amazon and Ikea and pondering what would work well in my small apartment. In my defense, my husband and I had been renting this fully-furnished place for a year, and we needed it to feel like it was “ours” more than a random Airbnb we slept in.

I never thought I'd print my digital photos until I felt the need to personalize my home with more than just furniture and random decoration.

So after deciding on a couple of Hovsta frames from Ikea and a collage frame from Amazon France (similar to this $32.99 Songmics one, but with a different wood color), I set out on the most difficult task of all: go through the thousands of pics in my Google Photos library to find the ones to print.

Why I chose Google Photos’ print service

Hand holding a Pixel 7 Pro with Google Photos favorites grid, with a photo frame in the background that has Google Photos prints
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

My original plan was to mostly print landscapes and cool shots from the many places we’ve visited and the random activities we’ve done, but somehow I ended up in our personal album picking cute and silly photos of us. I admit, I felt a bit like my parents and grandparents, building a kitsch shrine to us around our home, but there’s a reason why personal photos hit differently. They’re 100% unabashedly ours, not some random scenery or place or quote we’ve stumbled upon that could just as well be a photo in someone else’s home.

But I digress. The end result is that I selected about 70 snaps — I was only going to hang 13, but I figured I might as well print extras so I could switch them around every couple of months. The next question was where to print these.

The decision hinged on three factors:

  • privacy since these were personal photos,
  • convenience because I didn’t want to spend an eternity uploading, editing, and reframing every shot in an annoying interface,
  • and cost, obviously.
Why bother with a more complicated process when I could pay less and waste less time?

After going through several comparisons of photo printing services available in France, I came to a clear conclusion: just use Google Photos’ built-in printing service. I wouldn’t need to upload my pics anywhere where they don’t already exist, it’s convenient because the photos are already there and I’m familiar with the editing process, and it was — surprisingly — cheaper per print for every size that I checked.

I had expected Google Photos’ print service to be more expensive, but I found the opposite true — at least in France. The 10 x 15cm print goes for €0.15 on Google Photos versus €0.18 at least on three other sites. The same goes for the 13 x 18cm print (€0.39 on Google Photos versus €0.55 on other sites), 20 x 30cm print (€1.99 on both Google Photos and one competitor, others were more expensive), and 40 x 60cm (€13.99 versus €16.99 at least). This sealed the deal for me.

Have you tried Google Photos' printing service?

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A fast and convenient way of printing photos

The photo selection process was extremely simple too and it’s the same one whether you use the Google Photos mobile app or the web. Tap the Print store icon in the top left and check the collections Google has conveniently “made for you” or pick from an album you already created or from your favorites. Alternatively, you can select any pics in your Photos library and hit Order prints in the pull-up menu. I recommend going the custom album or favorites route because that way you can curate your photos first and compare/dismiss similar shots before starting the printing process.

The entire process is frictionless, from choosing photos, sizes, reframing, and editing them. Everything happens in Google Photos.

Once I settled on the snaps I wanted to print, I was taken to the print preview section, where I could select the print size and quantity for each photo. I could also easily reframe the shot, which is essential because most of my photos are in 3:4 whereas the prints were all 2:3. Centering, zooming, moving — it’s all a breeze, and Google warns you if a photo’s resolution is too small for the print size you’re going for. Also, because this is Google Photos, I could apply some extra edits to any pic on the fly before settling on the final version.

I finalized my order on January 22 and waited. Google said delivery was expected after January 31, but I got my photos on the 27th of the month — a few days early. The photos were printed in Germany and shipped to France. (Other countries may use other printing hubs.)

Are Google Photos prints high quality?

google photos prints 5
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

The 75 photos I ordered arrived in excellent packaging: flat for the 20 x 30cm prints and smaller sizes, rolled up in a tube for the two large 40 x 60cm prints. Everything was printed on Fujicolor Crystal Archive Paper; I’m not an expert in photo paper material, but this seems like quality paper to me.

Colors can be a bit different, as you can see in the image above, though part of this is due to display calibration and ambient light in my hallway. But if I preview the same photo on my iMac, which has a better color calibration, the difference with the printed photo’s colors is minimal.

Colors may be different, but that is often due to your phone's display color calibration.

If, like me, your pics are taken with a relatively modern smartphone and uploaded to Google Photos in the “storage saver” (16MP) quality, there should be no pixelation or clarity issues for prints as large as 40 x 60cm, though you’re hitting the limits there. For larger-size prints, you’ll need the “original quality” snap with a bigger resolution.

Yes. You can manually choose the photos you want to print, or pick from a personal album or Google’s own curated collections of your photos. You can pick the size, reframe, and edit any photo before ordering the print.

From Google Photos, you can print your photos individually on photography paper or on canvas. You can also print multiple photos in a photobook.