Stupid UI Department: Printing from iPhoto to a photo paper tray

Today I bought a HP Photosmart C7280 All-in-One printer. A full review will be coming shortly, since I think this is a really great all-in-one printer, especially for Mac users. However, I need to comment on something that is driving me nuts.

The C7280 comes with two printer trays: your normal one that is usually occupied by letter size paper and a photo paper tray (usually used by 4×6 photo paper). Apparently Apple never envisioned printing to a specialized photo paper tray in iPhoto, because there is no easy way to select it!

Now the obvious place is the printing dialog that you get when you hit the print button:

Looks straight forward right? Except if you choose a 4×6 paper size (which by the way, the paper size selection is very user unfriendly as well and would trip up most people) and print, the software doesn’t use the photo paper tray, it just goes to the main paper tray. Not to mention, hitting the Print button on this screen doesn’t actually cause the photo to print. You actually have to hit another print button!

So after doing some research, I found where you can set the paper tray setting. You can create a printer preset. Fantastic I thought! I quickly created a 4×6 photo paper printer preset and while I was at it, did the same for duplex printing of letter size documents (a C7280 feature).

Problem solved right? You would think I could then go back to that first printer dialog, select my new Print on 4×6 Photo Paper preset, and then click the magical print button.

Small problem though: on the first print dialog, iPhoto doesn’t show custom printer presets. I found some documentation on Apple’s site that suggests developers can add presets, but nothing about users adding presets.

So my hopes of selecting a preset (or even better the last one I used being set as default) for my paper type, paper tray, and other settings? These hopes are gone if I want an easy “here honey, click the preset drop-down, select the 4×6 borderless preset that I created for you, and hit print” way for my wife to print photos.

I do not know who’s fault this is. Probably a combination of HP (for not offering iPhoto presets for the common paper sizes that point to the photo tray) and Apple (for the stupid process of picking paper sizes, printer options, etc. and not being able to do it all on one screen).

For the grand conclusion, I would like to write the pointless steps I have to go through to print a photo from iPhoto to the C7280 photo tray now and then below them, write how it should be:

  1. Select photo in iPhoto that I want to print
  2. Go to File –> Print
  3. Click the preset drop-down and select “Photo on Photo Paper” the preset.
  4. Click on the “Paper Size” drop-down, find “4×6 in./10x15mm” and then click on “Borderless 4x6in./10x15mm.” choice.
  5. Click the “Print” button.
  6. Check my printer choice.
  7. Click on the “Preset” drop-down and select my custom present, “Print on 4×6 Photo Paper”.
  8. Click the “Print” button.

How this should be done (in 3 less steps):

  1. Select photo in iPhoto that I want to print
  2. Go to File –> Print
  3. Click on the preset drop-down and select “Print Borderless on 4×6 Photo Paper” preset that is either pre-created by HP or easily customized by me thanks a custom option that lets me save my changes. Of course these settings will use the photo tray by default.
  4. Choose a printer.
  5. Click the “Print” button.

Sometimes you really wonder if the people designing these products actually use them.

10 thoughts on “Stupid UI Department: Printing from iPhoto to a photo paper tray

  1. This is helpful but how do you setup the presets? I too find this annoying, the only way I could print to the printer tray is with HP’s Photosmart Studio, which is designed as a replacement for iPhoto which is a pain.

  2. Hi,

    Found this page after looking for a solution to this problem myself. Appears Apple / HP listened, or it was buried from the beginning. This is with Leopard 10.5.4 & the recent HP printer driver update. My printer is a HP D6100 series.

    6) Select my printer choice
    7) Click on the down pointing arrow (printer dialog expands)
    8) Select “iPhoto” and on the dropdown list that appears select “Paper Type / Quality”
    9) Select Source and you are given the choice of trays so for me “Main Tray” or “Photo Tray”

    Still a bit of a pain but at least it saves you having to create Presets

  3. See how easy that was… NOT. But, it does work. I was having the same issue printing to my C7280. Selecting the photo tray from the HP Provided Photosmart Studio app worked fine, but the thing is so slow. I much prefer iPhoto, but wish they would fix this.

  4. This is happening for all printers???How looked your photos? Because I have tested hp epson and canon how good are they printing photos and how cheap. And second thing for me was important how long that takes when photo will fade for canon is ~ 25 yrs. Other thing about your problem I didn’t have some thing with mine canon on Leopard maybe drivers ????

  5. As another option for the C7280, you can use the “hp photosmart print”, a smaller utility that comes with the printer and includes tray selection. The downside is that then you have to spelunk through iphoto’s file system to locate the photo you want.

  6. Hi Chris
    very well written and 100% match for me… I especially had to laugh about the “here honey..” section, because that was the trigger for my research. But all that matters: it works, thanks!

  7. Having the exact issue. Funny thing is if you sync to your iphone and use hp print app the 2nd photo tray is the ONLY tray you can print to. Funny

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