With phone cameras getting ever more impressive, you probably have a mountain of important moments caught on your smartphone - but without printing them at home, how exactly do you get snaps off your phone, camera or computer and turn them into prints?
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The high street
If your photos are on a memory card you should not even have to transfer them to your computer. Most, if not all, high street outlets will be able to process them directly from the card. If you need your photos in a hurry, many high street shops offer a one-hour service.
Having pictures printed from a memory card in-store is probably the simplest method of all, although you will still need to select which pictures to print.
If they are stored on your camera or phone itself, most stores should still be able to help you, provided your device is Bluetooth-enabled or you bring the USB cable – the lead which you use for connecting it to your computer.
As for where to go, you may still find an independent photo printing service nearby. See ukcamera.com for a database of independent camera shops in the UK.
Find out more about storing files on your computer
Several chains offer an in-store photo developing service. Boots remains a popular choice and Max Spielman is an established photo lab specialist with over 200 outlets.
Meanwhile Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones bought Jessops in 2013 after it went into administration and re-opened 30 stores, while the Kodak Express franchise can still be found on many High Streets. Tesco offer a photographic counter in many stores.
Photo kiosks for digital media are increasingly common in some chains. This can be a quick method of printing a few photos.
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By using an online service you can have your photos printed without even leaving home, by uploading them from your computer or phone.
You can use the High Street chains’ websites, or choose from the online-only developers.
A quick Google will reveal several photographic printing company names from the pre-digital era that offer a website service, along with a slew of new kids on the internet block.
Perhaps start with Photobox, an online service which will print and deliver your photos to your door. Photobox can create a photo album or even print your favourite photograph on a mug or other gift item.
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You can even download an app on to your smartphone to print your photos for you - and some even offer a certain amount of photos free, if you pay for shipping. Try Free Prints, which will give you 45 free prints a month.
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You could try printing your own snaps. A photo printer will probably produce the best results, but is not essential.
You will however need photo paper, readily available at most stationers. For this reason, an inkjet printer is better suited than a laser printer. Increase the resolution of your photos on screen – and print at maximum quality - for best results.
Given the cost of paper and ink, however, a commercial printing service may well prove cheaper - and simpler.
How to get your digital photos to the printers
Before you can start printing your digital photographs, you’ll need to transfer them from your phone or camera to your computer.
Transferring photos can usually be done either by connecting your camera or device directly to your PC or by using a Bluetooth connection.
To transfer directly, you’ll need a connection cord. One end of the cable will plug into your camera or device and the other will connect to a USB port on your computer. In most cases, as soon as you connect the two and turn on both devices, your computer will recognise the new hardware device and give you access to it.
To use Bluetooth, both your camera and computer will need to be Bluetooth enabled. Bluetooth works like a wireless connection, but is limited to connected devices within a short range. After you turn on Bluetooth on both your computer and your device, your computer will detect your device and you can transfer photos wirelessly.
Filing digital photos
The secret to accessing all those digital photos you take is in the way you file them. It can be easy if you have a system and stick to it. It might be a little harder if you already have hundreds of photos, but take the time now to sort them and you won’t regret it later:
• Set the current time and date on your camera if you haven’t done so already.
• Transfer photos from your camera or phone to a “Pictures” or “Photos” folder on your computer.
• Create subfolders to organise your photos. A good way to organise them is by year and by subject. You can also create subfolders within subfolders (2015/Family/Nick’s birthday, for instance) if you need to.
Separating folders by year and adding subfolders is like having a library of photo albums arranged alphabetically and numerically. But what will you do if your computer crashes and you lose them all? This is why backing up is so important.
Backing up digital photos
The most secure way to back up your photos is to store them on another hardware device and online. Hardware devices include external hard drives and USB ‘sticks’, and backing up this way is easy with our guide to backing up data.
To store your photos online, services like Flickr and Dropbox will give you limited storage space. If you take a lot of digital photos, consider paying the modest yearly fees for greatly increased or even unlimited storage.
These services are not going away any time soon and will probably outlast both your computer and camera, so are well worth investing in.