Here are answers to some common questions about printing pictures.

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Why do my printed pictures look blurry or grainy?

If the original picture appears to be sharp but your print is blurry, then it's likely that you're making the print too large. In general, full-page 8-by-10-inch or 8.5-by-11-inch prints need at least a three-megapixel camera. Using a smaller picture file will limit the print quality. Also, if you crop your picture before printing, it might not print as well at larger sizes.

It's also possible that the original picture was blurry or grainy. There are a number of possible causes:

  • Photographing a moving subject can cause a blurry picture.

  • Shooting with a slow shutter speed can cause a blurry picture unless you steady the camera, such as with a tripod or by leaning against a doorway.

  • Shooting a picture in low light without a flash or with the camera's ISO control set high can cause a lack of definition and a lot of noise, or graininess, to appear in the picture.

How does paper type affect my printing results?

The type of paper that you use to print your pictures is the single most important factor in determining print quality. You might use plain paper or inkjet paper for routine printing, but to make a high-quality print (such as for mounting in a frame), you should use a premium glossy paper that is recommended for use with your printer. Usually, this kind of paper is glossy on one side and looks like traditional photo print paper. For best results, be sure to set the paper type when printing to match the kind of paper you have in the printer.

Does it matter which side of the paper I print on?

Premium glossy and matte paper types often have a preferred printing side. Usually, the shiniest side is intended for printing, but be sure to read the directions that came with the paper to see how to load it into your printer.

How do I print a picture at a specific size, such as a 4-by-6-inch or 8-by-10-inch print?

When you print pictures from the Pictures folder or Photo Gallery, you can choose from a list of templates that correspond to the most common print sizes. Since most digital pictures don't fit perfectly in a standard frame, though, you might end up with blank space in the frame. To avoid this, you can crop your picture to an exact print size in the Fix pane of Photo Gallery, and then print the cropped version of the picture. For more information, see Crop a picture.

What does the option called "Fit picture to frame" do?

Digital pictures often do not match standard print proportions. Usually, your printer makes up for this by printing the picture at full size and leaving gaps where it is too narrow or too short to fill the frame. If you select the Fit picture to frame check box, Windows will enlarge the print enough to make sure it prints at exactly the proportions you specified, though a small amount of the picture will extend outside the frame and will not be printed.

Illustration showing how Fit picture to frame affects printed pictures
A picture before and after using Fit picture to frame

What happens if I try to print one copy of a picture on a template with room for several pictures?

Windows only prints the requested number of copies so you do not waste ink. For example, if you try to print one 4-by-6-inch picture on a page that has three 4-by-6-inch frames, only one print is made and the rest of the page will be blank.

When I choose my print settings, such as paper size and print quality, why do the options change from time to time?

By default, only the combinations of paper size, paper type, and print quality that will give you the best results are displayed in the Print Pictures dialog box. For example, if you were to choose the glossy paper option but then you printed on envelope paper, you would not get good results. As a result, this combination might not be available.

If you turn off this safeguard, you will always be shown all the options and combinations, even if they might not print well. To see all your options, follow these steps: On the toolbar in the Pictures folder, click Print. In the Print Pictures dialog box, click Options, and then clear the Only show options that are compatible with my printer check box.