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Shutterfly Photo Calendar Review: Best Photo Calendar Service

Great photo reproduction and comprehensive — if not entirely intuitive — software, makes Shutterfly the best service for creating a photo calendar.

Editor's Choice

Our Verdict

Great photo reproduction and comprehensive — if not entirely intuitive — software, makes Shutterfly the best service for creating a photo calendar.

For

  • Very good photo reproduction
  • Wide range of attractive backgrounds
  • Large, varied and searchable libraries of layouts, clip art and backgrounds
  • All elements in a template or layout fully editable

Against

  • Cumbersome software workflow
  • Text entry not intuitive
  • Borders available only in preset weights

Regardless of how much fun, creative or flexible any calendar software might be, the final standard for quality must be the appeal of the printed product. Our Shutterfly calendar was the best of all those we tested. However, while Shutterfly has revised its calendar software since our last review, making it much more flexible, the interface is still not as full featured or as easy to use as Mixbook's.

Creating Your Calendar

One of the more important improvements in the Shutterfly software we found was the ability to move, delete, add, resize, reshape and rotate everything, including decorative elements that were part of our selected template. We found it very easy to drag and drop photos, clip art and backgrounds, not only to the top page of photos but also onto the calendar grid on the bottom page. In addition, we could add text to the calendar grid.

Shutterfly features large and varied libraries of attractive calendar templates, layouts, clip art and backgrounds, and has a good search engine. In addition, the Idea Pages tab provides a small but nice selection of attractively designed alternative pages for our selected template.

Where Shutterfly doesn't measure up to Mixbook's excellent calendar software is in the details. For instance, rather than having full and varied control over our border widths and colors, Shutterfly gave us a choice among a sizable (but set) collection of colors, and the weight of the line was limited to presets: fine, medium and heavy.  Shutterfly has no drop shadow, and its handful of photo effects were eight color filters and a redeye tool. Entering text wasn't intuitive, because Shutterfly uses a floating window (as opposed to having text appear immediately on the page). So we couldn’t determine how the color, size and font would look until we applied it.

Although it was easy to drag and drop backgrounds onto both the top and bottom pages, we couldn't view the two at the same time, even when in preview mode. So we had difficulty determining how the backgrounds on the two pages would complement or clash.

But our biggest problem with the Shutterfly interface was that it separated editing commands between two separate windows, which was confusing and bogged down our workflow. For instance, clicking on a photo in the main window opened the photo effects palette. We had to go into the Advanced Editor to move, delete, rotate or otherwise manipulate the photo on the page. By comparison, Mixbook's workflow was smoother and easier.

The Printed Calendar

Our Shutterfly calendar was printed on a very nice weight paper stock with a lovely vellum-like finish. Photo reproduction was very good. In fact, Shutterfly did a better job of balancing our diverse images than Mixbook.

The cover image was lively with great saturation and contrast, and was in focus. The inside pictures were consistently appealing, with very good color and saturation. Whites were white, and blacks were black, with good details throughout the dynamic range. Type was very clean.

Price & Options

Our 11 x 8-inch Shutterfly wall calendar cost $24.99 (which is the same price as Mixbook's 11 x 8.5-inch calendar). A 12 x 12-inch calendar cost $34.99. Shutterfly offered quite a few calendar styles and sizes, including easel, desk, poster, magnet and even mouse pad calendars. All were 12-month calendars (unlike Apple, which offers 12- to 24-month calendars). In addition, we could set our calendar to start on any month from 2017 to 2019. If you have time to order your calendar, wait for one of Shutterfly's frequent coupons or sales to reduce your cost.

MORE: Best Services for Creating and Printing Photo Books

Shutterfly has an extensive selection of other photo products available, including cards and stationery, books, playing cards, Christmas tree ornaments, coffee mugs, jewelry, pillows and blankets, and prints and posters of all sizes and types.

Bottom Line

For a very attractive calendar that nicely balances photos from various sources, choose Shutterfly. But be prepared for limited software tools and a sometimes frustrating workflow. Mixbook's software had a more robust tool set and was easier to use, but it didn't handle our diverse photos as well as Shutterfly. If you want the most reasonably priced calendar, and don't care about being able to customize it with creative tools, go with Apple Photo. But for the best balance of quality and features, Shutterfly is the service to use.

Specs

Import photos from: Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Smugmug, Google Photos and your device
Templates & layouts: Large attractive library, fully editable. Some premium charges
Backgrounds: Searchable, large attractive library. Some premium charges
Clip art: Searchable, large attractive library, fully editable. Some premium charges
Text: Customizable

Credit: Tom's Guide