Shutterfly review: Shutterfly

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Friendly interface; fast navigation; delivers prints with captions; strong customer support.

The Bad Conducts most editing online, which is slower than offline editing; doesn't let guests view pictures at high resolutions; contains mildly annoying pop-up ads.

The Bottom Line Digital photographers who want a free photo manager with a winsome interface may prefer Shutterfly. However, Ofoto costs the same price and delivers better-looking prints.

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Perhaps because it sounds like butterfly, the name Shutterfly brings to mind a cheerful, hassle-free experience. And that's precisely what you'll find with this veteran online photo service. Like Ofoto and Snapfish, Shutterfly allows you to store and edit photos, share them with friends and family, and order lab-quality prints. True, the Shutterfly site generates at least one pop-up advertisement per visit, doesn't let guests view your images at high resolutions, and its print quality can't hold a candle to Ofoto's. Yet thanks to its bright interface and extensive help files, Shutterfly seems friendlier than its competitors. Not planning to print? Need an easy online album? Try Shutterfly. Perhaps because it sounds like butterfly, the name Shutterfly brings to mind a cheerful, hassle-free experience. And that's precisely what you'll find with this veteran online photo service. Like Ofoto and Snapfish, Shutterfly allows you to store and edit photos, share them with friends and family, and order lab-quality prints. True, the Shutterfly site generates at least one pop-up advertisement per visit, doesn't let guests view your images at high resolutions, and its print quality can't hold a candle to Ofoto's. Yet thanks to its bright interface and extensive help files, Shutterfly seems friendlier than its competitors. Not planning to print? Need an easy online album? Try Shutterfly.

Easy access
Working with Shutterfly is a breeze. Online registration takes just a couple of minutes and requires only your name and e-mail address. From its sign-in screen to your own personal album pages, the site's interface is simple and intuitive. Pages load quickly, even when hampered by one of the company's frequent pop-up ads. Your photo page displays either a single image and caption or a thumbnail album in the center of the screen. Editing commands and photo information are on the right and left, and a large button bar is across the top of the screen.

You can upload digital shots in one of three ways. Two of these techniques allow you to scan your computer for 10 files or less and upload them. The third method incorporates Shutterfly's SmartUpload utility, a nifty little download that installs on your hard drive and transfers files via a convenient upload wizard. Don't worry about uploading too many photos. Shutterfly provides limitless storage space. SmartUpload also supports simple editing functions such as rotating and cropping. However, you must access the site to perform more detailed enhancements such as contrast and saturation adjustments or to add one of Shutterfly's many impressive borders. Unfortunately, this online editing takes longer than the offline changes that Ofoto and Club Photo allow.

By invitation only
You must choose the photos or albums you wish to share and enter the e-mail addresses of your intended audience. When your guests receive Shutterfly's rather plain invitation, they can click the link to your gallery. Here, they can view an automatic slide show, click a thumbnail display to view larger renditions of any given shot, or order reprints of your images. Unfortunately, both you and your guests will see only a downsized, medium-resolution version of your photo, which isn't nearly as crisp as the original. Club Photo actually lets you view images at higher resolutions.

At Shutterfly, money changes hands only when you order prints or accessories such as frames and customized greeting cards. At $0.49 for a 4x6, $3.99 for an 8x10, and $1.79 for a four-pack of wallet-size photos, Shutterfly's processing prices match its competitors'. We received our multiple photo shipment just three days after we ordered it and were pleased to find our custom captions emblazoned on the back of each print. Our Shutterfly photos looked faithful to their original colors but were a bit overexposed and printed on flimsier stock than our Ofoto prints.

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Shutterfly

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