Printing tips for HP Photosmart printers

Learn how to get the very best photo prints at home with your HP Photosmart photo printer


Learn how you can get the most from your photo printer. Give us just a few minutes and we'll show you how to get the best photo prints possible. With the right printer and these simple techniques, your pictures can look as sharp as those processed in a lab.

If you are looking for troubleshooting or support information, please visit HP's Support & Drivers website.

Use a high-resolution image

Before-and-after that illustrates a pixilated image

If you try to enlarge a photo that was not taken with a high MP setting, your print may turn out grainy or pixelated.

The larger you want to print your photo—without getting that grainy look—the higher the MP (megapixel power) setting on your camera needs to be.

  • Use a MP (or "quality") setting that is high enough for the size of print you want to produce later.
  • Most new cameras have a lot of megapixels—even a 2MP camera can give you a top-quality 4" x 6" print if you are using your camera’s highest resolution, or MP setting.
  • More people are using their mobile phone camera as their primary camera. Some camera phones even have more than 10 megapixels of photo-taking power.

Get more tips for printing and sharing camera phone photos. And learn more about how megapixels affect print size and quality.

Use the right photo paper and ink

HP Premium Plus photo paper

HP Premium Plus photo paper is HP's best all-around photo paper. It comes in a variety of sizes—from 4" x 6" to 13" x 19".

Make memories last! When used together, HP ink and paper produce photos that resist fading for generations.1 Plus, when you buy Original HP ink, you can:

  • Save up to 10% with HP Ink multipacks.2
  • Save up to 40% on your printing with Original HP XL Ink cartridges.2

Find the right ink for your printer now.

Or learn more about choosing photo paper and get more tips for using paper and ink.

Edit photos before you print

Someone touching the screen on the HP Photosmart 6510

Most HP Photosmart printers, such as the HP Photosmart 6520 e-All-in-One, let you improve and edit your photos using a large, interactive touchscreen display.

Learn two simple photo fixes that will help you improve all your photo prints. Several HP Photosmart e-All-in-One printer models let you make edits using your printer's touchscreen—no PC needed.

  • Red-eye removal is one of those quick photo fixes you’ll use all the time. Find out more about removing red-eye from your photos using the Instant Photo Fix feature.
  • Cropping is the easiest way to improve your photos. It only takes a minute to use this technique to turn a throwaway snapshot into a work of art. To learn more, see cropping in action.

Customize your printer’s quality and paper settings

Print quality: Best circled in red

You can designate the “quality” of the print, depending on what you’re printing.

Print quality setting preferences

To get the highest quality photo prints, it's important to make sure your print settings coordinate with the size, weight, texture, and finish of your paper.

Get to know your printer’s software settings. That's the window that pops up whenever you print. The settings let you control things like quality, resolution, format, size, and color.

The computer usually chooses those settings automatically, which is fine when you're printing on plain paper. But if you're printing a digital photo, you'll want to change your settings to produce the best-quality print.

  • Adjust print quality setting. For example, “Draft” mode lets you print faster and use less ink. It’s ideal for routine, everyday printing. But you’ll want to use “Best” mode to produce the highest-quality photos.
  • Adjust paper type setting. Paper settings control the amount of ink laid down on the paper, so using the setting that matches your photo paper is essential to making good prints.

Learn more about how to use your printer’s software settings.

Test your photo before your print

Photo index sheet

Print multiple test photos on one sheet of paper to decide which photos you'd like to print.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell what your final photo print will look like just by previewing it on your printer’s touchscreen display.

Preview your final photo print and finalize your printer settings by making a test print using plain copy paper. Then you can make adjustments as necessary.

Want to test a bunch of images at once? Try reducing image size and print multiple images on one sheet of paper.

Use the latest printer driver

Picture of HP Support printer driver search tool

Downloading the latest printer driver can improve your printer’s performance up to 50 percent.

It's important to use the most current printer driver available for your printer.

Printer drivers act like translators so your printer and computer can communicate with each other.

They’re free, and they bring considerable performance improvements. Your printer can perform significantly better (up to 50 percent) if you equip it with an up-to-date driver.

Download the latest drivers and software for your printer. And sign up to receive automatic driver alerts.

Perform routine printer maintenance

Before and after photos of streaked photo

Running the “cleaner” function in your printer every few months improves print appearance and prevents problems such as streaking.

You can access your printer's software settings to perform some simple maintenance tasks such as cleaning the printer nozzles and aligning the print head. You'll want to do this every few months.

Print quality problems? You can print and evaluate a Print Quality Diagnostic Report to troubleshoot defects.

Learn how to run a print quality diagnostic report.

Need more help? Please visit HP's Support & Drivers website.

Free resources for printer owners

Picture of HP Newsgram

The HP Newsgram e-mail newsletter provides tips, product support and special offers for HP customers.

You can access a variety of resources, both printed and onscreen, that provide information about setting up and using your HP Photosmart printer.

  • Improve your photography skills. HP has dozens of articles to help you take better photos. And HP's online classes are free, taught by experts, and you can enroll at any time and go at your own pace.
  • Get the HP Newsgram e-mail. Sign up to receive tips, customized product support, creative projects, and special offers through the HP Newsgram e-mail newsletter.
  • Use your printer's onscreen Help. View detailed instructions on how to use all your printer's functions—right on your printer's display.
  • Get online support. HP's online support site offers technical support, FAQs, drivers, and product manuals.

Find the right ink for your printer

Learn more

  • 1Display-permanence rating by Wilhelm Imaging Research, Inc., or HP Image Permanence Lab. For details, see
  • 2Compared with single, standard HP ink cartridges. Based on average retail pricing, actual prices may vary.