If you're just trying to get some photos printed and done, Costco is a great option for convenient, quick, and seriously cheap printing with decent quality. However, the Auto-Correct features on the Costco website sometimes make your photos look worse because they can override your edits! You can vastly improve the quality of your printed photos by changing a few settings, including turning off the autocorrect function.
Auto-Correct on Costco Prints: Helpful or not?
Like most photo printers, Costco's computers default to certain settings, including an auto-correction feature. Auto-Correct uses an algorithm to enhance the color, brightness, and saturation of your photos, which helps people who upload their images straight from the camera.
However, if you have already edited or adjusted your photos, Auto-Correct actually OVERRIDES your changes.
You will get better prints from Costco if you turn off Auto-Correct for anything that has already been color-corrected or edited.
What looks "right" to the computer lighting-wise or white balance-wise should not take precedence over how you want your pictures to look. For instance, you might want a light & bright picture, but the algorithm might think the image is overexposed and try to make everything darker. If you've ever felt like your pictures are darker than they should be or more gray/blue/green than real life, it's probably because the printer is using an auto-correct feature that is overcompensating for something that was already edited.
This is especially true if you are printing images from a professional photographer - don't let anyone's printing software override the editing decisions your photographer already made!
But why is Auto-Correct on in the first place?
Auto-Correct is automatically on because it allows for Costco to make basic changes to photos that need them. Consider that many people do not edit their pictures before printing them, and this gives Costco the chance to fix glaring exposure errors and white balance issues, both problems that would reflect badly on their print quality if not fixed. For unedited images, the computer's enhancements are usually a good thing.
Here's how to get better prints from Costco!
1. Glossy vs. Lustre Prints at Costco
First, you're going to want to change your photo finish to Lustre. We'll get to Auto-Correct later in the order process!
This is one way to get a higher quality photo print from Costco. The Lustre photo finish is a matte finish that definitely adds to the professionalism of the print. The glossy finish will attract fingerprints and that's never good!
Once you've uploaded your prints, you'll get to your Shopping Cart page. You have to change the photo finish of the entire order all at once (so if you want a combination of glossy and lustre you have to place multiple orders).
Toggle the Photo Finish to Lustre with the radio button, and then decide your desired sizes and quantity. Click Checkout on the bottom of this page.
The next screen is just your decision where to print, so do whatever you normally do.
2. How to turn off Auto-Correct on a single order:
At this point, you'll be on Costco's Review & Place Order screen. The next thing you want to do is turn off the Auto-Correct on the order.
The top of this page has the Auto-Correct options. Click the radio button to toggle between On and Off.
Remember, Auto-Correct "On" means Costco will enhance your pictures, overriding your edits. Auto-Correct "Off" means your files will be printed as uploaded.
Once your order is placed, you can confirm that it worked on your receipt/the Thank You page.
Ta-da! You've just instantly improved the quality of your Costco prints with only two changes!
How To Turn Off Auto-Correct Forever
The above directions are how to remove Auto-Correct one time, on a per-order basis. If you routinely edit your photos before uploading them, don't you think it would be nice to have your account set up to always print that way? Well, guess what... you can!
Mouseover the "Hi, User" link on the top right to click on the dropdown option that says "My Account." This brings you to the Account Information page.
Click the second option in the left column, which is called Print Preferences. This will bring up your current default settings in the right column, then choose the blue button on the bottom right that says "Edit."
Here's where you change your default print settings. Obviously, any of these can be changed on a per-order basis, but if you're in a hurry, it's so nice to have everything set up the way you want it to work.
These are the preferences I use:
- Default print size: I keep my prints at 4x6 (don't worry about the glossy/lustre mention, it just means both are options)
- Switch default finish to "Lustre" (glossy just attracts fingerprints!)
- Turn Auto-Correct to "Off" (Remember, Auto-Correct enhances the color, brightness, and saturation of your photos. If you use printer profiles or have already adjusted your photos using an image editing program, Auto-Correct should be turned off.)
- (There is no longer an option for back text printing - Costco retired this option)
Save by clicking Update Info, and you're done. Now, every future order will have those options activated unless you change them individually.
Hoorah! Your prints will all look better now. You might not notice a difference in photo quality every time, since it really depends on the picture, but rest assured that all your hard editing work isn't getting thrown out by a computer just doing its job. Congratulations!
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