The Best Photo Printing Apps for Busy Families

Mom Life

I take a lot of photos. With three kids and family far away, how can I not? I even upgraded to a 128 GB iPhone (rose gold, of course) and expanded my iCloud storage so I can take and store more photos. Ask me for a recent photo of my kids, and I’ll immediately take out my phone and show you pictures of them an hour ago, a day ago, heck, even three years ago (thanks Timehop!) But ask me for a printed picture, and I’ll look at you with a confused expression on my face. Maybe once every one to two years I’ll break down and purchase a Shutterfly book, but now I’m at the point where I’m so far behind in creating one that it feels too overwhelming to even think about creating one. Plus, the myriad of design choices that Shutterfly offers completely overwhelms me. If I can ask Alexa to add things to my calendar, then surely there’s a service out there that can make this easier, right? With the help of Google and some of my Facebook mom groups, I was determined to find the answer.

The first service that was recommended to me was Groovebook, which was originally pitched on Shark Tank, a household favorite show. You download the Groovebook app, then select 40-100 of your favorite photos each month. Groovebook will then print and ship your photos each month. Each photo book measures 4 by 6 inches and features a unique, colorful spine and different cover design every month. Your photo book will be a soft-covered book of perforated photos, so you can easily tear them out if needed (like when your kid says they need a family photo the night before the project’s due). The price is a very reasonable $2.99/month but I’m looking for something more durable then a soft cover book with perforated pages. Honestly, I’d be afraid that my kids would tear them out and scatter them around the house.

My next stop was Chatbooks.   Chatbooks prides themselves on making “photo books for people who don’t have time to make photo books” and I’m all on board with that. You pay $10 a month, and Chatbooks will automatically ship you a book every time you add 60 photos. You can select where you want Chatbooks to pull your photos from: Instagram, Facebook or anything you “favorite” on your iphone camera roll.

There’s no thinking or design skills needed on your part. Your photo book will be a soft-covered book of photos with a modern white cover, or you can upgrade to a hardcover version for $5 more. For another premium fee, you can upgrade from the basic white book to a designer one by Kate Spade or Rifle Paper Co., both of which are pretty damn fabulous. There’s a wide variety of other artists and themes to pick from as well. While Chatbooks is considerably more expensive then Groovebook (those upgrades add up pretty quickly), it seemed better suited for my needs.

The next step in my super-scientific research process was downloading the Chatbooks app to see how user friendly it really is. Can I really create a photo album in 30 seconds like they claim? Once you’ve downloaded the app, you start to pick the product you want, and Chatbooks offers several different options:

  • Photo Book Series “like a magazine subscription to your life”
  • Custom Photo Books “A one-time book of life’s happiest moments”
  • Year in Review “Hold on to your best memories of the year”

I decided to go for the gold and see how complicated it would be to do a year in review book. If I can easily catch up on 2017’s photography black hole, then I could stay in current in 2018 with a monthly subscription.

Similar to Groovebook, you have several different ways to pull in your photos: from social media, your camera roll, or anything you’ve favorited in your camera roll. I decided to go the last route. Once you’ve selected your photo source, you pick your book size, either 6″ x 6″ or 8″ x 8″, and then Chatbooks does the rest. The app was a little slow to sync my pictures, but in it’s defense, it was pulling in 120. Within a few minutes, I had a preview of my book. The app was a little buggy and quit on me a few times, and one miss is that I have to individually edit photo placement if I want all of the photos to bleed to the edge.

But true to Chatbooks promise, it was incredibly easy to create a book. In fact, it was kinda fun, and I ended up creating three different books in under 10 minutes: one from our recent kid-free trip to Vegas that I’ve been meaning to do a Shutterfly book for but couldn’t find the time, the 2017 review book (and of course I upgraded to the Rifle Paper Co. cover) and then started a 2018 subscription.

My 2017 Review book ended up being 122 pages. There’s an upgrade fee for the hardcover edition and the premium Rifle Paper Co. cover. The cost to print a 6″ x 6″ version of the book is $35 and a 8″ x 8″ is $62. Since this is catch-up for 2017, I’m going to spring for the 8″ x 8″, but not before searching online for a coupon code, and there are many out there.

Next, I set up a book series, which they bill as like “getting a magazine subscription to your life.” Again, I upgraded to the Rifle Paper Co. cover (they’re so cute!) and the hardcover version. I’m using the iPhone favorites as the photo source, so any photo on my phone that I tap the little heart on will appear in the book. Once I’ve filled up the book with 60 photos, Chatbook will print them and send to me, and then start my next book. All for the price of about $20 per book!

In brutally honest Mamanista fashion, I have not yet received my first Chatbook, so I can’t speak to the quality just yet. But for the ease and user experience, I would give it five stars. If the finished quality is as good as the initial experience, the gifting opportunities are limitless. If only this service was around when my kids were babies, they might actually have baby books! Seriously, what a great gift this would be for a new mom, and they even have a baby book line.

Author’s note: This post is my honest opinion based on my own research. I was not paid or influenced by any companies in this post (although that would be nice).

What’s your favorite way to get photos out of your phone?




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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Aimee | The Modern Mamanista
    December 29, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    Sorry you feel that way Drew, but thanks for reading! Since writing the post, I have subscribed to and received at least 10 different photo books from Chatbooks. I’m happy to report that the quality is great and the customer service is excellent. I will update the post when I don’t have three kids and a full time job vying for my attention.

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