Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Books and Calendars in Photos for Mac

Jason Snell:

Apple started in leaning into extensions last year, but with its official announcement that it’s getting out of this category, a few other companies have finally jumped in. The result is that there are two apps—available for free from the Mac App Store—that are worth checking out if you’re interested in printing photo books or calendars from within Photos for Mac. They are Mimeo Photos and Motif. (Unsurprisingly, the companies behind both apps seem to have been past suppliers for Apple’s book-printing services… so this is their way of staying in the game.)


If I had to sum up the differences between the apps, I’d say that Motif feels more modern and is easier to use, since it puts project photos (rather than page thumbnails) on the main interface and isn’t reliant on a bunch of slide-out drawers to access photos and layout controls. While Motif offers more layout flexibility than Apple’s old tools did, if you want to have ultimate control, Mimeo will give it to you.


Mimeo Photos has the edge over Motif on the calendar front. It’s got more available template themes and offers the capability to customize individual dates portion on the calendar, with text or photos, which is fun. (Unfortunately, it won’t let you drop photos on the overflow dates from the previous or following months, which was always something I did with Apple’s old calendar.)

Previously: Apple Discontinues Its Own Photo Printing Service.

Update (2018-11-29): Jason Snell:

A couple people have asked about this. If you want to reprint books you designed in Photos in the past, you can - Mimeo will let you upload your Production PDF (exported from Photos) and will reprint your book.

Update (2018-12-07): I found that when creating a photo calendar with Motif, most operations do not support undo. Scrolling through the thumbnail picker works in a non-standard way; you can only two-finger trackpad scroll when the cursor is over the scroll elevator (rather than anywhere over a thumbnail). There is no easy way to swap two photos placed on a page.

Update (2018-12-10): I’m not having a good experience with Motif. I finally finished creating my photo calendar, laying out all the photos and fine-tuning the zooms and crops. I clicked the Done button. This brought me back into the regular Photos view. I had planned to save a PDF of the project, as I always do before printing, although it turns out that Motif doesn’t support that. When I opened the calendar again to order it, everything I had worked on for over an hour was gone. All it showed was a single photo for January (I’d made a layout with six or so), and the photo displayed was not even one of the ones from this calendar project; it was one I’d ordered an 8×10 print of a few years ago.

I briefly when to Shutterfly, as it’s worked OK for me in the past, but aborted because I didn’t like its calendar layouts. It ended up being easier to redo everything in Motif because then I could use the same layouts as before, and it was still pretty fresh in my mind how I’d done them. After finishing each month I clicked Done and verified that it had, in fact, saved. This time, everything worked as expected, and I was able to place the order. The in-app order form is actually more cumbersome to use than a Web form, as type-selecting doesn’t work in the address combo boxes.

Update (2018-12-19): I received my first calendar from Motif. The printing is sharp and detailed, but the photos look very dark compared with how they looked on screen, and also compared with prints of those same photos from other services.

Update (2018-12-21): The new Motif 1.8 update says that it can convert Apple book projects to Motif book projects.

Update (2018-12-27): Motif sent a replacement calendar. Some of the photos in it are still way too dark, but most of them look better.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

I gave the Motif extension a whirl recently. Quality of books is great, much like the "Apple" ones before. However, the extension itself was the buggiest software I've used in a long time. Crashed frequently and randomly on several different Macs, just getting the book finished was a chore.

[…] use Photos enough to know what its database stores that isn’t in iCloud Photo Library. But print projects definitely don’t sync using iCloud, and they can represent a huge time investment. Some other […]

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