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CVS Photo Printing review: Extensive photo services

CVS Photo Printing
(Image: © Karen S. Freeman / iMore)

I was impressed with the breadth of photo printing services that CVS has to offer, far beyond what many other photo printing services offer, and most of my order came out great. However, I had a significant issue with the photo book I ordered. It was partially my own fault, but I was disappointed that CVS didn't catch the issue before printing and sending it out. Still, CVS is one of the best online photo printing services out there for its one-stop shopping.

The Good

  • Extensive photo services
  • Same-day pickup for some items
  • Print quality is good
  • Decent prices and frequent discounts
  • Easy to use website

The Bad

  • Some problems with the book design
  • Poster arrived rolled

Everything and the kitchen sink

CVS Photo Printing review: Features

CVS Photo Printing

CVS Photo Printing (Image credit: Karen S. Freeman / iMore)

CVS has one of the most extensive photo printing services I've seen. Not only do they offer tons of different photo prints and photo products, but you can also get your passport pictures, copy and print documents, develop actual film, and transfer your home movies to DVD or digital. Since there is a CVS on just about every corner in the US, it's quite convenient. I ordered three 4x6 prints, an 8x10 print, a 20x30 print, four wallet prints, 20 cards (the minimum order), and a photo book. All of my daughter's engagement photos you see in my order were taken by JMS Imagery. My own wedding photo, seen in the wallet photos, was taken by Nancy Lambert many years ago.

CVS's prices are reasonable, and there are always many deals and promo codes going on. Shipping isn't cheap or free, but you may be able to pick up your order for free at your local CVS, possibly even the same day, depending on what you order. Certain items are available at certain locations, I assume based on which equipment your local CVS has in store. It's a safe bet that you'll always be able to pick up basic prints in-store within an hour.

There is a ton on the website, but it's easy to navigate. I had no problem putting together a photo book, but I thought it would be fun to select a "Family" theme for my book, which includes cute sayings and flair. As it turned out, that was a terrible theme. The letters often didn't show up on the background I'd selected. But even worse, the theme included gray lines which I think were intended to add emphasis to the quotes. But these gray lines, which were not visible when I put the book together, ruined some of my photos by cutting right across faces. Otherwise, the book would have been fine. It's a cute little softcover book and the quality is good.

CVS Photo goes way above and beyond when it comes to the photo services they offer.

The prints all look great, although the 20x30 did arrive in a tube, which means rolled edges. I'm confident they will flatten over time, or immediately if I pop the poster into a frame, but two hours with books on the corners did nothing. Unfortunately, the tube seems to be the norm. Very few places do the huge flat box because of cost, I'm sure. I was happy with the quality of the prints. The wallets are the mini-wallet size, with four of them fitting onto a 4x6 sheet. I ordered both color and black and white prints and they all look as they should.

Some photo printing services print their cards on cardstock, while others use photo paper. These cards are of the photo paper variety, so trying to do wedding invitations this was was a mistake. I don't blame CVS for this; if I'd ordered holiday cards, they'd be fine on photo paper.

CVS does have an app (opens in new tab) for your iPhone. It's not just for photos, but you can indeed order your photos and photo items within the app.

CategoryFeature
Print size rangeFrom mini-wallet to 20x30
Photo booksYes
Variety of photo products availableAbove and beyond
Free shippingNo
Cloud storageYes, but it's unclear if there are limits
SubscriptionNo
Shipping timeEight days
Auto-cropYes, but editing is easy
Photo correctionsYes; enhancements, filters, etc.
Option to pick up locallyYes, certain items
Upload photos from other websitesYes: Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Google Photos
All items arrived undamagedYes (though 20x30 edges were curled)
Photo qualityGreat
iOS appYes

Impressive array of services

CVS Photo Printing review: What I like

I was blown away by the sheer number of photo services that CVS offers. They offer a huge selection of print sizes, cards, and photo book options ranging from the little 4x6 pocket cutie I ordered up through leather-bound premium lay-flat albums suitable for a wedding. You want a mug, a mouse pad, a clock emblazoned with your photo? CVS has all that and much more. But beyond that, the breadth of their services impressed me: passport photos, home video transfer to DVD or digital, copy/print services, and developing actual film.

You can only pick up your order in-store (same-day in some cases) for certain items, but it's a convenient option to have. Nearly everyone I know lives within a few miles of a CVS. Of course, if you're picking up your photo order, you can also conveniently pick up your medical prescriptions or whetever other drugstore items you need.

CVS Photo Printing

CVS Photo Printing (Image credit: Karen S. Freeman / iMore)

Didn't love my book theme

CVS Photo Printing review: What I don't like

You could say I picked a bad book theme, but why does CVS offer bad book themes? You could say I should have noticed those gray lines over our faces, but why is CVS letting me make a book with gray lines over the photos? Obviously, there's no human being doing quality checks there, or someone would have told me about the issue with my book. Maybe CVS shouldn't offer themes that have lines covering parts of photos at all. Perhaps if you stick with a basic book theme, or at least go over everything with an eagle eye, and you would be fine. I had no problem with the quality of the book itself.

Like most photo services, CVS ships large prints in a tube. This means the edges are curled for several days, which isn't the end of the world but it's slightly annoying.

Vast options and convenience

CVS Photo Printing review: Bottom line

CVS offers way beyond the standard set of photo services. Yes, you can get prints ranging from mini-wallets to 20x30, photo books ranging from cheapie pocket-sized book to a premium leather-bound lay-flat album, cards, and all manner of photo gifts. You can even pick up some of these items at your local CVS the same day. But CVS is unusual in that they also offer passport photos, copy/print services, film developing, and home video transfer to DVD or digital.

One aspect of my order really disappointed me, however. The theme I chose for my photo book, which consisted of decorative quotes and flair, either didn't show up at all over the background or covered up important parts of my photos. I'm generally pretty careful when I create photo books, but these aspects of the theme weren't apparent to me when I made this one.

See at CVS (opens in new tab)

Karen S Freeman
Karen S Freeman

Karen is a contributor to iMore.com as a writer, social media manager, and co-host of the iMore Show. She’s been writing about Apple since 2010 with a year-long break to work at an Apple Store as a product specialist. Before joining iMore in 2018, Karen wrote for AppAdvice and WatchAware. She’s an early adopter who used to wait in long lines on release days before pre-ordering made things much easier. Karen is a wife and mom (and dog mom) who is also a part-time teacher and occasional movie extra. She loves to travel the world and is always looking for portable tech and accessories so she can work from anywhere.

1 Comment
  • Back in "the day" (I had a dark room at one time), yes, there were places to get your photos printed where you could either pick them up or have them shipped in flat box. But then places like CVS appeared and pretty much ran the local photo shops out of business. However, when you send your photos to places like these to get printed, they are not going to edit them for you. If there are lines or glares on the images, there are going to be lines and glares on the prints. You're paying for prints, not for editing. Editing would be an additional fee.......probably more than you would be willing to pay. I've had nothing but great service with CVS photos and will continue to keep using them (or Costco) for my photography business. Also, IMHO, a 4 star review based on issues that "were partially your own fault" isn't a fair review.