I’m the official Mac360 ‘Queen of Bargains’ so I was surprised when Bambi asked me to review a couple of $30 Mac applications. I like free, right? Bambi said, “Not all that’s free is a good value, Alex.”
I’ve learned that it’s best not to argue with folks who are
taller than me, so I did as my taller-than-tall, blonder-than-blonde mentor advised. The result? A lesson in value.
I learned something. Free does not always mean value, though we try to provide Mac360 readers with attractive, useful, productive Mac applications, regardless of price.
I just like to focus on free. In fact, $30 is a bit pricey for me, especially for a Mac application that just prints photos from iPhoto. Why do you even need another application to do that? iPhoto. Prints. Fine.
The answer was already in my head by the time I’d finished the question. Yes, iPhoto has a few limitations, not the least of which are printing options.
Most Mac users taking advantage of one of iLife’s stellar apps will be happy with what they get. After all, iPhoto lets you store thousands of digital images, tweak color, crop, export, email, print, so why bother with something else to print out a photo?
Because there’s always a sharp Mac developer who finds a niche, a better way, an easier way, and knows how to add a staggering list of features that somehow don’t always make it into an Apple application.
Both applications are Mac-like and intuitive. Both take your iPhoto photos (or any digital image) and let you print a variety of ways. Both are within five cents of $30.
There’s just this huge difference in value that started to glare at me from my Mac’s screen. A glaring Mac is not a pretty sight.
First, Snapshot. It’s an attractive and straightforward application that makes it easy to print pictures on your Mac. It crops photos and won’t destroy or modify the original.
Snapshot also prints to exact sizes, the typical 4×6, or 8×10, or whatever other size you need to print. Importantly, there’s iPhoto integration so you can just click on a photo you want to print and have all those Snapshot options available.
You can even preview each photo before printing, and cram extra photos onto a larger page size to save on paper.
I know what you’re thinking, so save the flame. “Uh, Alex, this is what you get in iPhoto already, you know?” And I’m like, “but this is really easy to use. And it’s such a great interface, so logical, so Mac-like, and it feels so right.”
Snapshot is $24.95 and that’s what it does. It prints photos, and crops, and adjusts, and connects to iPhoto. Big whoop, right? What about Portraits & Prints? What do you get for the extra nickel?
Five cents gets you all the above. Portraits & Prints also gives you pre-sets to enhance each image with controls for brightness, contrast, sharpness, and saturation.
Portraits & Prints also has templates which let you select how many photos to go on a printed page, which photos, and lets you crop each photo individually. Talk about maxing out the value of printer paper.
The templates let you rotate individual images within a frame, leaving other photos on the same page in their original position.
You can also add balloon captions and text on photos, print your iPhoto comments on a template or photo, add image file and EXIF info to the templates, eliminate red eye with the Red Eye Reduction Tool.
Did I mention tools? If you’re a Mac user you’ll love the Portraits and Prints toolbar.
Rotate, enhance, crop, add caption, reduce red eye, add from iPhoto, open from other source, switch between the photo and layout mode, and more.
Layout mode? Yes, the extra nickel gets you the ability to view the photo as is, and view a page layout with multiple images on each page, and have multiple pages and multiple documents. In other words, save your work, add photos and print again later.
Is there any end to this value? For a nickel? No, but there’s a “pro” version of Portraits & Prints for $20 more which adds yet another staggering list of features: add shadows to the photos in the layout, add text to any part of the custom template, and more.
How about multiple photos arranged as a montage of different sized images? Yep, Portraits & Prints does that, too. Drop your photos onto a grid, arrange however you like; angled, smaller, larger, overlaid, angled the other way. P&P does all that.
Where’s the value in this whole issue? iPhoto stores digital photos by the thousands, lets you tweak and crop here and there, and print, and is included with each new Mac and as part of the $79 iLife ‘08 package. Value? Yes.
Snapshot is lovely but doesn’t do all that Portraits and Prints does, yet costs almost $25 by itself. While it’s a classy looking application and does what it says it will do, after just three photos I kept wanting it to do more.
For a few dollars more than Snapshot, Portraits & Prints leaves you dizzy with all the features you could think of and a few I hadn’t thought of. Value? Yes. Both are try-before-you buy, so you get to make the final value determination, for you, so don’t just take my word for it.
The pro edition of Portraits & Prints is just that; an application for those of us with a creative bent and a desire to do more with our photos. The value of the custom templates and the template exchange is obvious.
The lesson? Shop around. Snapshot is nice, looks great, works well, but don’t stop there if you’re looking for value.
Are you still printing photos these days? What do you use? iPhoto or something else? What printer do you use for best results? Can you figure a “per photo” cost for printing? Share your experience in the Comments section below.