android phone photo camera

Photos you take on your Android smartphone don’t have to stay digital. You can get physical copies of those photos printed out quickly and easily — using your own printer, at a local store, or sent to you in the mail.

You don’t need any fancy hardware to do this. You could use your own photo printer, but that isn’t even an ideal solution — if you just want to print the occasional photo, just pay per-print.

Print Photos on a Home Printer

RELATED: How to Print From an Android Phone

You can print photos yourself, if you have the appropriate type of printer. But this probably isn’t the ideal solution unless you want to print a lot of photos on a regular basis.

For hardware, you’ll want a dedicated photo printer with high-quality photo paper. You’ll also need to buy color printer ink, of course. Don’t just print to a piece of typical printer paper using any old printer you have lying around.

Software-wise, you’ll need a way for your Android phone to communicate with the printer. Google Cloud Print offers this, in theory. But, unlike Apple’s AirPrint, we’ve had hit-and-miss results with a number of Google Cloud Print-enabled printers. Quality of the resulting printout can suffer, which is a problem when printing photos instead of just plain-old text documents. We’d recommend not buying a Google Cloud Print-enabled printer if you actually just want to print photos. Using Google’s Cloud Print connector to activate Google Cloud Print capabilities on a wired photo printer also may not be ideal.

Instead, you’ll probably want to communicate with the printer a different way. Some photo printers can function over Bluetooth — just pair the phone and printer and send a photo over Bluetooth. Some Wi-Fi-enabled printers can even accept photos and other documents via email, so you could email a photo to your printer from your phone to print it.

Many printer manufacturers offer their own dedicated Android apps that you can install on your phone and use to print photos to a Wi-Fi-enabled printer. For example, these apps include HP ePrint, Epson iPrint, and Brother iPrint&Scan. If you’re buying wireless photo printer just for this, be sure you’re getting one that can work with an Android phone—and not necessarily just with Google Cloud Print.

You can easily print a photo by opening it and using the Share button — share it to email, Bluetooth, or a manufacturer’s printer app you have installed on your phone.

Print Photos and Pick Them Up Today

If you just want the print out the occasional few photos, you might want to forget using your own printer. You won’t need to buy and maintain a printer, keep printer ink stocked up and fresh, or buy premium photo paper. So, while you are paying for each print, this will be cheaper for printing the occasional important photo.

Many of the same services that offer iPhone photo-printing apps also offer Android photo-printing apps.

Basically, there are a bunch of local businesses near you — think Walgreens, Target, CVS, and Walmart — that will print photos for you at their store and let you pick them up that same day. Apps allow you to find these local stores and send them photos from your phone so you can go in and pick them up in person. They’ll be professionally printed at high-quality and you won’t have to worry about purchasing a printer and dealing with all the maintenance.

The Kicksend app is convenient because it provides a directory of a variety of different stores you can have your photos printed at and pick them up. Other apps are also available — the Walgreens app allows you to order photo prints at Walgreens and the KODAK Kiosk Connect app allows you to order photos at CVS pharmacy locations and anywhere else with a KODAK Kiosk, for example.

Print Photos and Have Them Delivered

You don’t actually have to leave your house and head to a store if you don’t want to. If you’re not in a hurry and you don’t mind waiting a few days, you can have a service print them for you and mail them straight to your door.

In fact, the Kicksend app tries to encourage you to do this rather than rely on nearby stores when you open it. Other services are also available — Free Prints promises free photo prints for you, but actually charges for shipping so you won’t really get them for free. No service will really send you free printed photos without getting some money out of it, even if they say you’re just paying for shipping. SnapFish and PostalPix will also send you printed photos, and you can find many more similar services with a quick search of Google Play.

You could use these methods to send printed photos straight to friends or relatives, too — for a small fee, a service will print them for you and mail them straight to someone else.

Of course, you don’t just have to print from your Android phone. You could transfer those photos to your computer using a USB cable or access them on the web with a service like Google Photos, Dropbox, or Microsoft OneDrive and print them from your computer, too. This is ideal if you have a high-quality photo printer but it doesn’t work as well with your Android phone.

Image Credit: Karlis Dambrans on Flickr

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Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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