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How-To: Go beyond OS X Photos + make amazing wall art from your Mac’s pictures (Part 4)


Several months ago, I wrote a three-part guide to making amazing wall art from your Mac’s photos (part 1part 2part 3) — a popular series that readers told me they’d really enjoyed. The premise: as photography has gone digital, most of the pictures we take have become trapped on our computers, rarely seeing the light of day. Turning your favorite photos into large-format wall art is a great way to decorate your home or office, and with the recent introduction of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, higher-resolution photos and ultra-high-res panoramas are possible, increasing the image quality of even your everyday snaps.

Even though Apple’s OS X Photos app focuses on making small prints, photo books, and calendars, there are some great third-party photo-to-wall art services out there. Previously, I looked at how to turn your photos into large-sized metal, acrylic, and canvas wall art. This brand new part 4 explores three additional services, looking for the first time at photo prints on wood, as well as spotlighting several nice variations on prior themes…


Turn Your Photos Into Wood Prints

After looking at other materials in prior parts of this guide, the one I really wanted to see for myself was printing on wood — a process that can either create a rustic, earthy look, or have a less prominent texture, depending on your preferences. To test wood prints, I looked at two well-respected photo printing services: Bay Photo and Shutterfly, two of the biggest names in wall art-sized photo printing.


Bay Photo offers two different ways to submit photos and order products. Its free Bay ROES app (shown below, and recently updated for El Capitan) handles everything, while a web-based interface can be used for basic prints, including the Maple Wood Prints ($22 for 5″ x 5″ to $875 for 48″ x 96″) tested here. The web app is extremely straightforward, and I was able to upload my photo, choose mounting/hanging options, and place an order very rapidly.

photogiftguide-20 Original Image photogiftguide-21

Bay offers the choice between either a “natural” or a “white” finish. Just to see what it was like, I went with the white finish, which reduces the amount of visible wood grain to make colors pop more. The result — using a photo I post-processed with MacPhun’s Intensify CK — was impressively color-accurate to the deliberately dreamy image I uploaded, and looked like a painting on wood, which I really liked. As suggested, the choice of a white front finish did noticeably reduce the amount of obvious wood grain in the print, which will suit some images (like the one above) better than others. And while the nail/screwholes-in-planks mounting solution isn’t fancy, it works.


As a contrast, Shutterfly’s Upload Your Own Design Wood Wall Art ($90 for 8″ x 10″, $400 for 24″ x 36″) comes only in a natural grain option that really lets the wood texture shine through. Shutterfly uses a very straightforward web-based interface for uploading and previewing photos, which really turns out to be important with a natural grain wood print: without a white initial layer, color saturation is going to be muted, so Shutterfly lets you tweak the image against a grain preview so you’ll know what to expect.

holidayphotox Original Image photogiftguide-11

I started with a countryside castle photo, and based on Shutterfly’s previewing tool, felt that a little extra color saturation would be necessary to create contrast with the wood texture. While there are obvious differences between the original image and the finished print, the web preview gave me a very good idea of what to expect. The finished wood print had the natural wood look I’d wanted to see, plenty of detail, and a faded, rustic look that was only a little less color-intense than the web preview. It’s worth noting that while Shutterfly’s wood art prices look higher than Bay Photos, they’re offset by substantial coupon codes such as BUYMORE, which knock them down by up to 50%.


A New Twist On Metal Photo Printing

I’ve tested a bunch of compelling metal photo printing alternatives this year, and have generally been blown away by the results: particularly with a nice front finish, aluminum prints can look really stunning, rich in both color and detail. From a framing perspective, the most distinctive option I’ve seen is Bay Photo’s Double Float ($33.60 for 6″ x 8″ to $582 for 28″ x 40″). Standard metal printing is done on a single sheet of aluminum, but Double Float actually joins two layers of metal together to create a three-dimensional picture frame.


Because of the complexity of the layout process for a Double Float print, Bay requires you to use the Bay ROES app, which was recently updated for the latest version of OS X. While the app could use a little additional streamlining, it works very well to let you set up the top and bottom layers of your print, choosing crops and alignment. You can select from five different surface treatments (High Gloss, Mid-Gloss, Satin, Sheer Glossy or Sheer Matte), and either use the same image and treatment for both layers, or go with two images and treatments.

photogiftguide-6 Original Image photogiftguide-12

The sample Double Float print I made had deep blacks, excellent detail, and substantially accurate colors. Some of the dark shading nuances were lost in the bottom of the photo, but made up for by the rich, inky blacks, which really made the image compelling in person. Technically, I was very pleased by how this print’s alignment turned out — it was hard to be sure it would be perfect in 3D even after setting everything up the Bay ROES app — and the foam float mount between the surfaces provided a gentle but noticeable separation between the layers. If you’re looking for a way to add extra impact to a metal print, Double Float is a great choice.

A User-Friendly Canvas Wall Art Service

As its name suggests, CanvasPop specializes in printing photos on canvas — a process commonly known in the art world as giclée — and does a very good job, very quickly. The uploading and layout process is entirely web-based, and designed to be ultra-simple, so anyone can submit a print. Interestingly, CanvasPop keeps a chat window on screen to offer help instantly with the setup process, and prominently offers coupons that chop a significant percentage off of the official prices. (Before coupons, pricing starts at $37 for a 10″ by 10″ canvas, climbing to $422 for a gigantic 76″ by 38″ canvas with a wood frame.)


I was thrilled by the print quality on this rendition of my youngest daughter, which took a 22-Megapixel image up to a 20″ by 30″ size while accurately preserving both detail and colors; the original image had a warm yellow color temperature which the canvas print accurately replicated, even though my snapshots of the canvas doesn’t do the color matching justice. On the other hand, the image was cropped a little on the top and bottom, not enough to change the focus of the image, but enough that people looking for edge-to-edge reproduction should request CanvasPop’s (free) proofs to confirm the print will be exactly as expected.

photogiftguide-16 Original Image photogiftguide-17

While there are several frame and edge options — variable depths up to 2.5″ thick and your choice of colors or wood frames — mounting is simple. Given the canvas’s comparatively light weight, the included, pre-installed edge-to-edge rear wire works perfectly as a mounting solution. You can also choose three-canvas triptychs if you want to spread an image across multiple canvases, a premium-priced feature which can work extremely well with landscapes and panoramas.


Two Distinctive Acrylic Printing Options

The concept behind acrylic printing is much like the trick Apple used with the original iPod: use a thick layer of perfectly clear plastic to enhance the depth and “pop” of whatever’s below it. With acrylic photo prints, you can either use a large-sized basic photo printed on paper, or go with something more significant behind the plastic. As was the case with the wood prints above, I tested both Bay Photo and Shutterfly for this, as they’re heavy hitters with great options. The image above is Shutterfly’s Photo Gallery Acrylic Print ($70 for 8″ x 10″, $250 for 24″ x 36″), produced using the previously-mentioned web interface.

photogiftguide-19 Original Image photogiftguide-13

Even though Shutterfly’s Acrylic Print wasn’t as heavy as Bay’s version due to a difference in the backing materials I selected, the quality and impact were both stunning. The print arrived with optimized, intense colors and stainless steel mounting posts in the corners. Beyond nailing the colors and details of the original photo, the print really benefits from the gallery-quality look of the metal mounts, and the depth of the thick clear plastic front surface. This particular shot illustrates the power that a vanishing point-style photo can have to really draw you in when blown up to a large size.

The Bay version I tested is the Face-Mounted Acrylic Print ($19 for 4″ x 4″, $1,492 for 43″ x 96″), shown here with 1/4″ thick acrylic and a French Cleat mount. Most of the original images shown here were used without modification, but I used Bay’s web-based uploading tool to crop the photo a little, and the finished print was perfectly cropped and aligned as shown in the preview.

photogiftguide-22 Original Image photogiftguide-14

Beyond doing a great job of representing the original photo’s color and detail — again, the original image and print have a natural yellow warmth that snapshots don’t reproduce well —  Bay’s version really rocked in the depth department. Due to both the thick clear acrylic face and a more deluxe DiBond backing that sandwiches supporting pieces of metal behind the print, the Face-Mounted Acrylic Print was one of the most substantial-feeling and nicely mounted photo prints I’ve tested. If you’re going to turn one of your prints into something you hope to sell, Bay’s treatment has the heft that you’d expect from something with a premium price. You can choose the option that’s best for your budget and personal needs.

More From This Author

Check out more of my How-To guides and reviews for 9to5Mac here! My prior guides to turning digital photos into beautiful wall art (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) have been big hits with readers, and I’ve covered a lot of different topics of interest to Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, and Apple Watch users.

Filed under: How-To, iOS, iOS Devices, Mac Tagged: acrylic, Aperture, Bay Photo, CanvasPop, IPhoto, Mac, metal prints, OS X, photo printing, photos, Shutterfly, wall art, wood prints

For more news on iOS Devices, iOS, and Mac continue reading at 9to5Mac.

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Jeremy Horwitz

November 5th



How-To: Go beyond OS X Photos + make amazing wall art from your Mac’s pictures (Part 3)


History will remember the early 21st Century as a turning point for photography — the point at which mainstream photos transitioned from chemical to digital, thereby becoming “print optional” for the first time. Although digital photography has taken small annual steps for 20 years, those steps have collectively evolved early, uselessly low-resolution digital cameras into superior alternatives to their film-based predecessors. Even the tiny cameras built into iPhones take much better-quality photos than Kodaks and Polaroids, and more of them, too: the days of 12-, 24-, or 36-exposure film cartridges and fading exposures are long gone, replaced by all but infinite burst-mode photos that can live on your computer forever.

But some photos deserve a more prominent display in your home than a vault in your computer’s photo library. Apple has known this since the dawn of digital photography. Since iPhoto launched in 2002, Apple has offered photo and book printing services, a feature later added to Aperture and OS X Photos. Yet even though CanonSony, and Nikon have introduced high- and ultra-high-resolution cameras capable of creating huge prints, Apple hasn’t updated its apps with new large-format print options. That’s where this How-To series comes in.

It’s possible to use Photos to create large paper prints, but there’s a lot of exciting large-format photo printing work being done now with other materials, including metal, glass, and canvas. Part 1 of this How-To guide looked at large-format metal prints, and Part 2 looked at canvas and glass prints, with tips on composing large-format images. This third and final part looks at several additional options: turning your photos into hand-painted art, printing on brushed silver aluminum, and large-format “behind acrylic glass” photo printing. Each is different from the prior prints we covered, and one is the most beautiful large photo-to-wall art process I’ve yet seen…


Turn Your Photos Into Hand-Painted Art on Canvas

In part 2 of this guide, I looked at a process that uses computers to print latex paint onto a canvas — effectively a giclée, turning a photo into something that’s more organic but not quite a painting. Although I really liked the giclée-style result, I wondered how different a hand-painted canvas based on a photo would actually look. So I reached out to Nations Photo Lab, which offers “Genna Effect” hand-painted canvases ranging from 8″ by 10″ ($110-$140) to 30″ by 30″ ($360-$440), with the lower numbers representing a 1.75″ frame depth versus the higher numbers at a more dramatic 2.5″ frame depth. Nations’ Genna Effect begins in a giclée-like way, printing your photo on a canvas, but then an artist goes through and hand-paints over the photo with latex, creating a truly one-of-a-kind piece of art. The result looks unlike a photo — and in my opinion, much more beautiful.


Nations has a special standalone desktop app called ROES, which is — according to the company’s web site — required to set up your hand-painted canvas. Although it could use a little streamlining, the app allows you to upload your image, choose its cropping for either wrap-around photo edges or black/white borders, and select which edge the hanger will be on. If you choose the hand-painted canvas option, you may or may not see it under the app’s list of choices; in that case, you can use live online chat or contact the company via the phone to finalize your order.


I deliberately chose a somewhat challenging image because I wanted to see how abstract or realistic the end result of an artist’s hand-painted work would be. After going through a collection of possible photos, I selected a street scene with a variety of fine details, gradients, people and objects that could really be rendered in a variety of ways by an artist. And I was blown away by the end result — so much so that I just kept saying “wow” after opening the box.


While super-fine details were preserved through the photo transferring process, so much of the piece was composed of fine, medium, and large human brushstrokes that the image truly and completely looks like a painting. If anything, the photograph actually comes alive to a greater extent under the artist’s hand, as the gradient of the sky becomes more interestingly uneven, while the rest of the scene — shot in 2013 — looks like it could have been painted a half-century ago. It’s a unique way of making an image look both timeless and museum-worthy.


The hanging hardware and 1.75″ box framing also are gallery-quality. Nations includes two rubber pads to protect the bottom of the canvas when hung on the wall, as well as a solid wire mount that will work with a self-provided wall screw. I’d call the overall package of large-format imaging, hand-painting, frame design and mounting hardware on par with the very best of the other prints I tested.


While the total cost of Nations’ hand-painted canvases is higher than some of the rival options I’ve tested, the results are simply spectacular — truly a case of getting what you paid for. The company also does a good job of providing advance information on the turnaround time from image submission to delivery. Expect the painting to take two or three weeks due to the significant human involvement in its creation. When it arrives, I’m confident that you’ll be as impressed as I was with the results.



Metal Prints That Actually Look Like Metal

In Part 1 of this Guide, I looked at metal printing processes that produced large, glossy prints — ones that turned out to be extremely similar in detail and appearance to the glass prints I featured in Part 2, but noticeably brighter. I wondered what would happen with an image that was itself very metallic, if it was printed using a process that was designed to look like metal, not glass. The test image I chose was of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (above), famously designed by Frank Gehry from titanium and stone.


For this service, I tested AdoramaPix, the printing division of the popular photography and electronics retailer Adorama. AdoramaPix has some very unique metal photo printing options, including eight different metal shapes ranging from boxes to circles, hearts and “designer shapes,” as well as four metal finishes: glossy white, white satin, glossy silver, or silver satin. Its web site makes selecting a shape, finish, size, and price extremely easy, and I was thrilled by both the speed and the cropping of my print: Adorama has the fastest (several day) turnaround I’ve seen, and my image wasn’t cropped in any way from what I submitted. The only issue: there’s no way to easily preview how a photo would look with each of the finishes. What you see above, mainly text, is the only guidance you get before making a purchase.


I knew I didn’t want to go glossy for this metallic print, but didn’t know whether “white satin” or “silver satin” would be better based on the cartoony material renditions on the AdoramaPix site. As the choices suggest, I could have picked from neutral white or silver tones, but really wanted to see how a “silver satin” metal print looked because so much of the image was metallic. The result — my fault for choosing silver — was to turn blues into blue-grays and cool the gold tones in the original image, among other color accuracy issues. In retrospect, “white satin” would have been the better pick if I wanted a non-gloss surface, and glossy white for something comparable to the glossy prints I tested.


Although the silver satin process doesn’t pop with color, it provides a surface finish that’s distinctively metallic, akin to brushed aluminum. You can see the brush lines running through the image, reflecting light in a manner that is far more characteristically metallic than the glossy metal prints I’ve seen. Viewed up close, pixel-level detail preservation is generally good, though fine color distinctions can get lost in favor of flattened shades, a change Adorama discloses ahead of time by referring to the process as producing foil-like results. In short, this particular finish might not be ideal for the sample photo I used, but it would be my first choice if I was producing collectible movie posters for a Terminator movie.


AdoramaPix’s prices are even more aggressive than Mpix’s, starting at $20 for your choice of a 5″ by 5″ or 5″ by 7″ print, $25 for an 8″ by 10″, all the way up to $200 for a 30″ by 30″. The price for the 20″ by 30″ sample shown here was $135, or $20 less than a comparably-sized Mpix print. But whereas Mpix included mounting hardware, the AdoramaPix print I received was a simple sheet of metal — a bummer as I had to find a way to mount it on the wall myself. Once you add the costs of a 20″ by 30″ foam core board, a hook, and a wall screw, the prices are a lot closer.


This particular version of metal printing isn’t for everyone, and the low price does come with a caveat or two, but the results are so entirely different from glossy metal printing that some photos could really benefit from the process. My advice would be to consider AdoramaPix’s white satin if color accuracy is a concern, going with silver satin solely if you want a heavily metallic end result.


Last But Not Least: Acrylic Photo Printing

The last of the prints I tested was from WhiteWall, which produces (and quickly ships) large-format photo prints in Cologne, Germany. Originally, my plan was to test the company’s “Direct Print Behind Acrylic” service, which does a six-color printing directly on clear acrylic glass — currently at prices starting at $7 (4″ by 4″) and going up to a gigantic 66″ by 44″ ($697). But after looking over the numerous acrylic options WhiteWall offers, I decided to try something else: “Original Photo Print Under Acrylic Glass” ($13-$889). The 20″ by 30″ print above normally retails for $225, but can be had for under $185 with one of WhiteWall’s common coupon codes. Reflections near the bottom are from the acrylic top surface.


I switched from the direct acrylic print to the more expensive option after contacting WhiteWall for guidance. There’s no single “right” answer when choosing between the aforementioned options or two others — printing under matte acrylic or a “special resin” — but WhiteWall noted that (1) the glossy acrylic is very reflective, and has greater depth if you switch from 1/16″-thick to 1/4″-thick acrylic, (2) the matte acrylic does reduce the “pop” of an image, and (3) direct printing on acrylic, rather than a photo print under acrylic, actually reduces the color accuracy of the image. For the sample print here, I opted to go with a middle of the road option: glossy rather than matte, thinner rather than thicker acrylic, and superior color fidelity. You can upgrade or downgrade your print based on the options you prefer.


Overall, I was pleased by the quality of the WhiteWall print, and very impressed by the quality of the mounting hardware. On a positive note, the print offers strong pixel-level detail, more than doing justice to a source image that was taken at night and could have easily looked grainy in spots. Color fidelity is fair: though the image looks great when considered in isolation, some of the original image’s rich golden tones were softened into light oranges. The comparison sample image above is most different from the original in reflectivity: the extra light at the top left and ghosting you see to the right are all just reflections, not problems with the print. Just as WhiteWall said, the glossy surface is really glossy, so if you’re planning to hang your print in an area with lots of light or other reflective potential, go matte instead.


WhiteWall’s mounting hardware is really special. Beyond the thickness of the acrylic, the photo behind it, two layers of metal and the white backing, there are metal rails on all four edges that enable the print to be hung on any edge, or given extra support on a wall should you need it. I’d call this the most deluxe mounting hardware of any of the prints I tested, and certainly worth considering in the overall value equation when placing an order.

Which Should I Pick?

As you can see from the variety of options I’ve covered here, choosing a large-format photo printing process is a highly personal decision: it’s as much about the photo you start with as the type of result you want to achieve. If your source photo is low-resolution or a little blurry, but otherwise worthy of being enlarged, my advice is to consider either the hand-painted canvas or print-on-canvas options — soft paints have a way of making these images look great, regardless. For hyper-realistic printing, it’s hard to beat the glossy direct printing on metal I originally spotlighted. And if you like the look of glass, my advice would be to aim for either matte acrylic or thick glossy acrylic depending on the look you prefer, and the reflectivity of the room where the print will be hung.

There are plenty of great ways to free your favorite photos from the confines of your Mac’s photo library. Regardless of the option you pick, give (at least) one a try so you can see what a difference it makes in your home or office. There are other ways to decorate the room where your Mac lives, but none with as much personal value as an image you made yourself.

More From This Author

Check out Part 1 of this How-To guide here, Part 2 of this How-To guide here, and more of my How-To guides and reviews for 9to5Mac here! I’ve covered a lot of different topics of interest to Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, and Apple Watch users. Don’t forget to click on Older Posts at the bottom of the page to see everything!

Filed under: How-To, Mac Tagged: Aperture, IPhoto, photos

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Jeremy Horwitz

July 20th



How-To: Go beyond OS X Photos + make amazing wall art from your Mac’s pictures (Part 1)


Apple knew it had something special to share with the world when it released iPhoto in 2002: in addition to printing 20″ by 30″ poster-sized photos, the original iPhoto’s “most stunning feature” (according to Apple) was a page layout tool that quickly turned digital photo collections into printed hardcover books. These were Apple’s acknowledgements that tangible photos still had value in a digital era, and it subsequently added calendars, greeting cards, softcover books, and letterpress cards to iPhoto. Apple’s newer app Photos for Mac hides these options under the File menu at the top of the screen, and hasn’t expanded on them, a shame considering how nice the results look.

But apart from including the poster options in 2002, Apple never added “large-format art” to the list of things its photo apps could produce. Back in 2002, digital cameras were so low-resolution that they struggled to produce pixel-free 4″ by 6″ photos, so it’s no surprise that Apple wasn’t trying to build a market for large prints. Thankfully, a lot has changed since then. Canon currently sells two 50-Megapixel cameras, Sony has one 42-Megapixel camera, and Nikon offers four 36-Megapixel cameras. iPhones and iPads can create up to 43-Megapixel ultra-wide panoramas. A large, properly-composed print from any of these cameras (or even the more common 20- to 25-Megapixel cameras people are using today) will look amazing hanging on the wall of your home or office… if you know how to do it.

I wanted to see what the best options were for large-format photography, so I reached out to a collection of excellent art print services to see how digital photos would look on metal, glass, and canvas — materials Photos doesn’t offer. In Part 1 of this How-To guide, I’m looking at large-format metal prints that apply dyes and gloss directly onto aluminum surfaces, with results as saturated as Apple’s famous “nanochromatic” iPod nanos. Part 2 will look at large-format canvas and glass prints. Read on for all the details…

When you research the world of metal photo printing, two names come up repeatedly. First is Image Wizards in North Carolina, which lays claim to having invented metal photo prints, as well as ubiquitous earlier ideas such as printing photos on coffee mugs and mouse pads. Image Wizards’ AluminArte is considered the gold standard for metal photo printing, and can be produced in sizes ranging from 12″ by 20″ to 48″ by 96″ ($130 to $1,030) — that’s four by eight feet, a surface large enough to make a life-sized print of a basketball player (with room on the edges to spare). You get the choice of four different finishes – white aluminum or brushed in your choice of satin or gloss – plus three different types of frames in your choice of three colors.


Image Wizards offers a lot of different customization options, but its web site is very basic. You specify your choice of sizes, finishes, frames, and shipping packaging, then provide your shipping and billing information. Next, you just upload your file to the company without any additional site-based adjustment or previewing of the image. Consequently, you’ll need to do your cropping in Photos, iPhoto or Aperture, and make sure that your image looks right before uploading it. My finished Image Wizards print was very slightly cropped on the left side relative to the original image.

The original image Image Wizards' 24" by 18" version is slightly cropped, but richly colored (glare is from the glossy finish) Frame-to-edge framing stiffens the thin aluminum print

I was pleased by the quality of the Image Wizards print, and super impressed by the company’s frame. The AluminArte process preserved all of the original image’s rich saturation, which pops nearly as much on the 24″ by 18″ frame as on the internally illuminated, comparably-sized screen of a 27″ iMac. An anti-scratch coating provides HDTV-like gloss, and is capable of resisting finger gouges; Image Wizards includes a large cleaning cloth to preserve the shine. Additionally, although I’d selected a floating frame, Image Wizards recommended a frame to edge version that considerably stiffened the edges of the thin aluminum print, providing black boxy edges and a measure of reinforcement against accidental damage. It was a great recommendation, though it added $78 to what would otherwise be a $145.65 price.


As shown above, the detail level in the AluminArte print is pretty impressive for a large piece of wall art, preserving even the individual textures of strings in the original 24-megapixel photo. There were small color differences — smaller than the comparison here suggests — which aren’t noticeable unless you hold the image directly up next to a monitor. While the AluminArte print wasn’t as large as the others I tested, and I didn’t have a 50-Megapixel Canon to push the outer limits of the company’s process, most DSLR users (and many point-and-shoot photographers) can expect similarly detailed, beautiful results even at slightly larger sizes.


Another widely recommended metal print resource is Mpix, a division of Miller’s Professional Imaging in Kansas. Mpix does a lot of different types of photo printing, including canvas gallery wraps and boxy “standout” photos. But it also offers Modern Metals, aluminum prints that range from 8″ by 10″ to 20″ by 30″ ($34-$155). The prices are aggressive, though as a trade-off, you’ll have no physical options beyond choosing the size. You can use the Mpix web site to adjust the zoom, cropping, and rotation of your image, optionally adding various facial retouching services for $8 per retouching service per person; that’s it.

The original image I manually cropped the image on Mpix's web site for the 30" x 20" print The frameless mount design isn't deluxe, but works well

Mpix’s prints arrived amazingly quickly after my order was placed, and I was thrilled with their value for the dollar. Once again, the saturation and detail on the prints were spot-on with the original images, making colorful images really pop. I was astonished that buildings in the distance were as clear in the Mpix prints as in the Canon 5D Mark III images I shot, and that I needed to magnify the originals to absurd levels to find pixel-level distinctions. The only comparative issue I ultimately noted was a slight blow out of bright spots, which in all honesty affected such tiny parts of the huge images that they were hard to spot.

The second original image The second 20"x30" print, slightly cropped Fine details remain obvious in the print, though bright spots sometimes get a little blown out

Mpix notably offers 30″ by 20″ metal prints for $155, a roughly 36″ diagonal that’s larger than the display of any current or past Mac. While that’s not as large as the biggest Image Wizards print, Mpix’s options tend to be somewhat less expensive at given sizes. Part of that price difference is because there are fewer frills here than with Image Wizards, as Mpix doesn’t include a cleaning cloth or offer multiple frame or finish options. However, the frameless mount is sturdy and works exactly as expected, providing three mounting points in a line. Moreover, just like with the Image Wizards prints, Mpix’s prints were finished with a glossy surface treatment that made them look like UHDTV screens – really beautiful.

If you’re looking to make giant, wall-worthy metal art prints from your digital photographs, Image Wizards and Mpix both have advantages worth considering. The multiple finish and framing options offered by Image Wizards are good premium touches, while its ability to produce human-sized aluminum canvases for your photos could completely wow viewers with scale alone. By contrast, Mpix’s simpler options and pricing still deliver surprisingly strong image quality, and make an impact with the option of larger-than-Mac-sized prints. You won’t be disappointed with either company’s products.

More From This Author

Check out more of my How-To guides and reviews for 9to5Mac here! I’ve covered a lot of different topics of interest to Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, and Apple Watch users. Don’t forget to click on Older Posts at the bottom of the page to see everything!

Filed under: How-To, Mac Tagged: Aluminum, Aperture, artwork, Digital photography, Image Wizards, IPhoto, Metal, Mpix, photos, prints

Continue reading more about Mac, How-To, and photos at 9to5Mac.

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Jeremy Horwitz

July 4th



How-To: Safely shrink your Mac’s giant photo library, deleting duplicate images to save space

I’ve focused a lot over the last few months on helping readers to speed up and optimize Apple’s Macs — everything from adding RAM to recovering hard drive space and upgrading old hard drives to faster SSDs. Today’s How-To is focused on something very specific but with a lot of optimization potential: trimming down your Mac’s photo library.

Particularly after installing OS X 10.10.3 with Apple’s new Photos app, you might be surprised to learn that you’ve lost a lot of hard drive space, and that there are suddenly tons of duplicate photos on your Mac. After installing OS X 10.10.3, the new Photos app converted my 90GB Aperture library into a 126GB Photos library, and left both on my hard drive. That’s an incredible amount of wasted space attributable to duplicates, so it’s no surprise that a $1 utility called Duplicate Photos Fixer Pro has recently become the #1 paid Mac App Store app, while a superior alternative called PhotoSweeper ($10) is in the top 50. I’ve used both apps, as well as many others, and can help you choose the one that’s best for your needs…


Gauging The Size Of Your Mac’s Problem

If you’re not sure just how much space your photo collection is consuming on your Mac, there are two ways to figure it out. The simplest technique is to open a Finder window and right-click the Pictures folder under Favorites, choosing Get Info. A window will pop up with a number, which in my Mac’s case was over 236GB between a number of different photo libraries — Apple’s Photo Booth, Aperture, iPhoto, and Photos, just to name a few. If you do the math relative to your hard drive’s size, you’ll understand how much photo libraries are weighing down your computer: they were consuming around 1/4 of my iMac’s 1TB of drive space.

I personally like to see disk information presented visually rather than mathematically. GrandPerspective, the free disk space mapper I recommended last week, quickly shows just how out of control the photo libraries have become: my OS X Photos and Aperture libraries are the two huge blocks on the left, consuming 1/3 of all used space on the drive. If your libraries are this big, you have a lot of potential to recover hard drive space.

But even if your photo library is smaller, there’s a very good chance that there are duplicate images inside, swelling what could be a manageable collection into something needlessly bigger. The duplicate eliminating tools below turn what could be days of agonizing hunting-and-pecking into a mostly automated hour or two of deleting unneeded images.

Exercise Extreme Caution

Before going any further in this How-To, read this carefully:

Be very careful (yes, that’s bold, underline, and italics all at the same time) before deleting any of your “duplicate” photos, particularly in bulk. One of these libraries may be the only record you have of precious memories, and making the choice to just dump a giant collection of images can be calamitous. That’s why lost photo recovery tools are almost as popular as duplicate removers.

Exercising caution when using duplicate photo tools can be challenging. Each app makes certain assumptions (with your guidance) as to what should be called a “duplicate.” You can make those assumptions strict, or loosen them to catch images that are extremely similar. The looser your rules are, and the less you manually manage the list of duplicates before hitting the “Delete All” button, the greater the chance you’ll accidentally delete something worthwhile. It’s tempting to dump as much as possible when you’re presented with the opportunity to reclaim gigabytes of lost space by just hitting a button, but be sure you’ve given everything a look-over, first.

The same warning applies if you’re thinking of deleting an entire previous photo library. If you’ve already decided to switch from iPhoto or Aperture to OS X Photos or Adobe’s Lightroom 6, you could trash your old iPhoto/Aperture photo library and use Photos or Lightroom’s new library for everything going forward. My advice: move your old library in its entirety over to a high-quality external hard drive and keep it there until you are absolutely certain that Photos or Lightroom imported everything correctly. That way, you have the option of going back and grabbing lost images if needed, but aren’t cluttering up your main hard drive with an old photo collection that’s almost entirely duplicates.



At $10, Gwinno Software’s PhotoSweeper isn’t the cheapest of the duplicate photo removal tools out there, but in my experience, it’s the best. With the recent release of version 2.1, PhotoSweeper (unlike cheaper rivals) can find duplicates within OS X Photos libraries, as well as iPhoto, Aperture, and Lightroom libraries, plus images that are sitting in random photos on your hard drives. It has a reasonably straightforward but powerful user interface, which begins by giving you a Media Browser showing any Photos, iPhoto, Aperture and Lightroom libraries on your machine, letting you decide which to drag over into the main window for processing. If you only want to look at a portion of a given library, you can, or you can bring multiple libraries and folders together for comparison.photosweeper-3PhotoSweeper will take some time (varying based on the speed of your Mac and size of your photo collection) to canvas everything, then will present you with a “What to Find?” window. This is one of PhotoSweeper’s best features, as you can pick from four main options: “Duplicate Files” (shown above), “Similar Photos: Basic,” “Similar Photos, Advanced,” or “Series of Shots.” Each one will process your photo library differently. Duplicate Files looks strictly for pure duplicates, and has only one option: “Compare photos with the same name only.” Leave it unchecked and PhotoSweeper will look at each photo’s checksum, presenting you only with 100% identical files; check it and you’ll only see 100% identical files with the same name. 

While Duplicate Files is basically foolproof, Similar Photos loosens the rules. Under Basic Settings, Similar Photos will let you use fuzzy logic — image analysis on a scale from “partial” to “exact,” plus time comparisons and your choice of either same size or same aspect ratio — to find images that are close to one another. This is an ideal tool to use if your library somehow contains full-sized original images (the ones you probably want to keep forever), slightly modified versions, and/or smaller thumbnails that were created by another app. Using the “same aspect ratio” setting, PhotoSweeper can look for images that are the same overall but in larger and smaller versions. The Advanced Settings tab lets you calibrate the comparison engine, looking for matchups either of thumbnails or histograms, as well as color and detail levels in the thumbnails.


Series of Shots is the last option, included to handle split-second bursts of photos like the ones taken by recent iPhones, or looser groupings of images taken at nearly the same time. This option shows you clusters of images taken close together — you set how close — and lets you pick the one you prefer without looking for a 100% exact match. It’s handy to get rid of not-quite-as-good “near-duplicates” that might be taking up a ton of space in your library.


Once you’ve selected your sorting scheme, PhotoSweeper will go through everything and create “groups” of photos that it has identified as being similar. Each group will contain at least two photos, so you can either trust PhotoSweeper to automatically mark the ones it thinks should be deleted, or manually mark them yourself. PhotoSweeper has a list of 20 Auto Mark rules hidden within its Preferences menu, so you can check the rules you want to use, put them in the right order, and run the marking process. For instance, if you simply want the app to auto-mark the file with smaller size, DPI, or dimensions, you can do any of those; you could also auto-mark files with lower star ratings, fewer keywords, or other metadata criteria.

photosweeper-6Auto marking saves you from having to manually choose the image to delete from each group yourself, but should always be manually audited before moving on. That manual audit — checking as many images as you want to make sure you’re not tossing out good files — is your most critical step. When you hit the Trash Marked button, all green images will stay, and all red ones will disappear. You may need to let PhotoSweeper automatically open the photo library’s app (as with OS X Photos) so it can complete the deletion process.

Using PhotoSweeper in the right way can safely free up a tremendous amount of space on your Mac; you can run it several times using different “What to Find?” options to eliminate different types of duplicates. Even though you may get tired during the manual audit process — and might just opt to trust that PhotoSweeper is picking the right duplicates to eliminate — bear in mind the cautionary details above so that you don’t lose any important files.


Duplicate Photos Fixer Pro

Although it’s currently at the top of the Mac App Store charts due to its temporarily low $1 price, the normally $19 Systweak Software’s Duplicate Photos Fixer Pro has some serious limitations compared with PhotoSweeper. It won’t import OS X Photos, Aperture, or Lightroom libraries — only “iPhoto 9 or newer” and individual photos. You can choose from two settings: “Exact Match,” or “Similar Match,” and you’ll see an ad every time you don’t find duplicates.


Duplicate Photos Fixer Pro has far fewer settings to tweak its matching engine. It generates and compares only thumbnails, not histograms, and can use time intervals, GPS proximity, and a sliding scale “matching level” to sort your photos. At its weakest matching level, you’ll see “duplicates” that are clearly substantially different shots; at the strongest matching level, images will need to be pixel-perfect clones to be IDed. Even after doing the initial comparison, you can adjust the Matching Level slider and see just how many shots would be considered duplicates at each of the slider’s levels.duplicatephotosfixerpro-3

Like PhotoSweeper, you can auto-mark images using rules, though there are only six rules here, and they’re not as useful. Hitting the Trash Marked button lets you purge duplicates after a quick warning, with a reminder that you can find any accidentally deleted images in the trash can.

Having used PhotoSweeper quite extensively with Aperture and OS X Photos libraries, it’s hard for me to recommend Duplicate Photos Fixer Pro given that it’s so much more limited — fewer types of photo libraries are supported, the duplicate finding and auto marking features are less powerful, and there are other little annoyances in the user interface. At its normal $19 price point, there would be zero reason to prefer it over PhotoSweeper. But if you’re only using iPhoto or loose photo folders, want a budget solution, and don’t mind doing searches that mightn’t net as many actual duplicates as PhotoSweeper finds, this could be worth a try.


One More Option: Duplicate Detective

Although I wouldn’t generally recommend it for photographs, there’s another handy app for getting rid of duplicate files: Fiplab’s $3 Duplicate DetectiveThis app can be used across numerous types of files, quickly finding exact matches and letting you purge them. You simply point Duplicate Detective at a folder (or hard drive) full of files, start the scan, then pick the files to delete using simple (oldest/newest) criteria.


Why include Duplicate Detective in this article? Depending on how you’ve organized your photo libraries, you may have stored your iPhone, iPad, or iPod home videos along with your photos, or separately on your hard drive. These video files (particularly slow-motion and 1080p HD videos) can be gigantic, and if you want to hunt for duplicates of them or any other non-photo file, Duplicate Detective can help.

More Great Ways To Improve Your Mac

To make the most of your Mac (or pretty much any other Apple device), I’ve written quite a few How-To and Best of guides, as well as reviews of worthwhile accessories. Read more of my guides and reviews for 9to5Mac here (and don’t forget to click on Older Posts at the bottom of the page to see everything)!

Filed under: How-To, Apps, Mac, Tips and Tricks Tagged: Aperture, Duplicate Detective, Duplicate photos, Duplicate Photos Fixer Pro, IPhoto, Lightroom, Mac, OS X, photos, PhotoSweeper

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Jeremy Horwitz

May 7th



Apple releases Xcode 6.3.1 with bug fixes for debugging

Screenshot 2015-04-21 13.00.19

Apple today released Xcode 6.3.1 with bug fixes. According to the release notes, the release includes fixes for debugging, Interface Builder, and Playgrounds. The update is available via the Mac App Store and on the Mac developer center. Xcode 6.3 was released earlier this year with significant enhancements to Swift and the Xcode application.


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: App Store (iOS), Apple Inc, icloud, iOS, iPhone, IPhoto, Mac App Store, OS X, Xcode, Yosemite National Park

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Mark Gurman

April 21st



Apple releases Xcode 6.3.1 with bug fixes for debugging

Screenshot 2015-04-21 13.00.19

Apple today released Xcode 6.3.1 with bug fixes. According to the release notes, the release includes fixes for debugging, Interface Builder, and Playgrounds. The update is available via the Mac App Store and on the Mac developer center. Xcode 6.3 was released earlier this year with significant enhancements to Swift and the Xcode application.


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: App Store (iOS), Apple Inc, icloud, iOS, iPhone, IPhoto, Mac App Store, OS X, Xcode, Yosemite National Park

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Mark Gurman

April 21st



OS X Yosemite How-To: Move your iPhoto or Aperture library to Photos

Photos MacApple’s latest app Photos is now available for free as part of OS X 10.10.3 for Mac. The new app is the future of photo management from Apple with support for iCloud Photo Library, burst photos, slow-mo and time lapse videos, and more. Here’s how to migrate your photo library to the new Photos app from iPhoto or Aperture, both of which will no longer receive support for software updates going forward:

Photos WelcomeAfter pressing Get Started in the blue box as seen above, you have two different options. If you are brand new to photo organizing on a Mac and have never used iPhoto or Aperture before, (or if you don’t want to migrate your iPhoto or Aperture library to Photos), you have the option to import pictures from your digital camera or SD card, drag files directly into Photos, import pictures from the File menu or turn on iCloud Photo Library under preferences.

New to Photos

If you were previously using iPhoto or Aperture, after clicking Getting Started, it detects your iPhoto and Aperture libraries. Select which library you want to use with Photos.

Choose which library to import to Photos

Once you select the library, it presents the option to set up iCloud Photo Library, Apple’s iCloud-based photo and video syncing and storage service. This will allow you to sync all the Photos from your Mac and iOS device to each of your other devices, keeping your edits and albums in sync. It then starts to prepare your library to transition to Photos. If you are not sure about putting all of your pictures into iCloud Photo Library, you can always set that up later under Photos’s Preferences from the menu bar; it’s optional and never required unless you want automatic, cloud-based syncing.

Set up iCloud Photo Library Preparing iCloud Photo Library

Your old photo libraries will still stay on your Mac if you decide you want to use iPhoto or Aperture for doing something. One might still want to use Aperture because it is a lot more advanced with support for plug-ins and more for professional photographers, with powerful editing tools and built-in support to use external editors. However, if you make any changes in those libraries, they will not automatically sync over to your new Photo library.

Most of the data from iPhoto and Aperture will transfer to the Photos app. For example, Faces is still the same. Also, if you were using star ratings, flags and color labels in iPhoto and Aperture, they are still around in Photos, but they are now keywords and assigned to the photos. You’ll notice your Events from your previous photo library is organized alongside albums in the new Photos app preserving your organization.

That is how you move your iPhoto or Aperture library to the new Photos app. If you haven’t done so, make sure you set up iCloud Photo Library on your iOS device. Let us know if you have moved your library from iPhoto or Aperture to Photos and what your impressions are in the comments!

Filed under: How-To, Mac Tagged: Aperture, icloud, iCloud Photo Library, IPhoto, Mac OS 10.10.3, Mac OS X Yosemite, OS X, os x yosemite, photos

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Sarah Guarino

April 10th



OS X 10.10.3 expected to hit today, new Photos app a winner – Associated Press


An Associated Press review of the new Photos app for the Mac suggests that OS X 10.10.3 will be available for general download later today. The first pre-release seed of the latest version of Yosemite was made available to developers and testers back in February, with the first public beta made available at the beginning of March.

Apple’s new Photos app for Mac computers, available Wednesday as a free software update, makes it easy to organize and edit your pictures.

AP’s Anick Jesdanun was impressed with Photos, Apple’s replacement for iPhoto and Aperture, saying that the auto-fix features were particularly impressive … 

Jesdanun said that the Enhance button – which offers a one-step automatic fix for common issues with photos – was often all that was needed, with individual Auto buttons doing a similarly impressive job for lighting, color and other elements. For example, the auto button within Color fixed a yellow cast on an indoor shot, caused by incorrect white balance.

Levelling horizons is also now automatic: when you hit the Auto button within Cropping, Photos looks for a horizon and automatically rotates the photo to straighten it. No more sloping seas.

For those who want to gets hands-on, there are sliders for each attribute, together with easy access to advanced controls. More advanced photographers will also be pleased to see that RAW formats are supported when importing photos from other cameras, such as DSLRs and advanced compacts.

Photos stores full-resolution photos on iCloud, and a lower-resolution copy locally, freeing up space on your Mac. You will, though, need enough iCloud storage to cope with this. Check out our how-to guide on uploading your photos to iCloud in readiness.

Filed under: AAPL Company, Mac Tagged: Aperture, Apple Inc, icloud, IPhoto, Mac App Store, OS X, OS X 10.10.3, photos, photos app, Photos for mac

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Ben Lovejoy

April 8th



Apple promoting new Photos app to Aperture customers in email blast

Photos for Mac iCloud Photo Library

Apple has began promoting the new Photos app to Aperture users in an email blast to past customers. Photos replaces iPhoto with new iCloud features built in, but the app does not carry over the same advanced editing features as Aperture.

Photos was first announced at WWDC last June with a release date targeted for sometime this year. The developer betas of OS X 10.10.3 included the new app for testers, and earlier this week the first public beta for non-developers was released.

Aperture, which is still being sold for $79.99, is no longer being updated and will be removed from the Mac App Store when the new Photos app is released with OS X 10.10.3 this spring. Adobe has developed an Aperture-to-Lightroom migration tool for professional photographers looking for software alternatives.

The email can be read in full below:

Aperture Photos email

Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Aperture, IPhoto, Lightroom, Mac App Store, photos

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Zac Hall

March 5th



Apple releases first OS X 10.10.3 Public Beta with new Photos app

Apple today released the first Public Beta of the upcoming OS X Yosemite 10.10.3. The new release includes the iCloud-based Photos application for the Mac, new Emojis across the system, and simpler login to Google accounts for profiles with two-factor authentication enabled. This beta is labeled as build 14D87, which is the same as the second 10.10.3 beta for developers, which was released a week ago. The Public Beta is available in the Mac App Store Software Update tab for registered beta users. Apple plans to release the first Public Beta of iOS 8.3 in mid-March, according to sources. Thanks, DJ!

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 10.20.08 AM

Filed under: AAPL Company, Mac Tagged: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Aperture, Aperture (software), Apple Inc, Apple Software Update, icloud, IPhoto, Mac App Store, OS X, Software release life cycle

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Mark Gurman

March 2nd


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