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Photos books by Jason Snell

Photo by Jason Snell


Jason Snell Compares Mimeo and Motif Photos Project Extensions

Our friend Jason Snell recently finished the latest version of his Take Control book about Photos, now called Take Control of Photos, and in the process, he put a lot of time into exploring the brave new world of Photos project extensions. One of the innovations of Photos’ predecessor iPhoto was the way it let you build and order physical books, cards, and calendars, the printing of which Apple outsourced to various companies. Now, however, Apple has gotten out of the business, opening up print projects to all comers. Although a number of custom printing companies have thrown their extensions into the ring, Jason found that Mimeo and Motif were the best choices. (This matches our brief testing, in which many of the other print project extensions proved truly abysmal, with horrid interfaces and frequent crashes.) If you’re considering printing a photo book or calendar as a holiday present, give Jason’s article a read, and for more help with Photos in general, take a look at his book.

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Comments About Jason Snell Compares Mimeo and Motif Photos Project Extensions

Notable Replies

  1. I make calendars every year for my (large) family. I live in two countries, France and England. I am upset by the withdrawal of the Apple Print Services, and really hoped that Mimeo would fill in the gap. I came to the same conclusion as Jason that Mimeo was more likely to be useful for calendars at this point than Motif - this may be unfair, but the negative reviews of Motif put me off somewhat.

    I think Mimeo does work “kind of”, but they are not very Europe-oriented (I think all printing is done in the US, which may compromise prices and more importantly, delivery times); and my exploration of the actual app seems rather mixed. For example:

    a) One key feature of the old Apple system was the ability to generate a draft of the whole calendar as a PDF via the Print dialog - I could then send this around the family in a lo-res format to gain approval for my efforts before committing to print. I feel this is likely to be quite a common requirement, but so far Mimeo don’t supply it, basically because they don’t offer any printing facilities outside their paid-for service - I mean there is no print menu in the extension (app) at all. As their app is free to download they may be motivated to prevent people printing other than via their services, which is commercially understandable but not very user-friendly.

    b) You can add a picture or text to a specific day in a calendar (for example the moon phase, a person’s birthday, a public holiday in a second country) but you don’t seem to be able to control the size, colour or position of any text you write. The actual text is tiny and black, which is too minimal for me.

    I have also found that one can email them and get a quick response, which is very positive, but quite often they don’t actually answer the question. I sense I’m dealing with a third-party support group rather than the original developers.

    Issues like this are so important me that I’ve given up on Mimeo for this year and am using a totally non-Apple service, Photobox (which is not without problems as it’s a web up which relies on Flash, and whose support system is overcrowded with long waits and no email).

    I just hope Mimeo matures rapidly, and that a lot of healthy competition continues to grow.

    Has anyone else any experience to share? Should I have picked Motif? Should I have stuck with Apple?

  2. Motif sounds great, but it’s not available in the Canadian App Store, yet. Would love to be able to try it.

  3. livfoss
    Graham Samuel

        December 4

    I make calendars every year for my (large) family. I live in two countries, France and England. I am upset by the withdrawal of the Apple Print Services, and really hoped that Mimeo would fill in the gap. I came to the same conclusion as Jason that Mimeo was more likely to be useful for calendars at this point than Motif - this may be unfair, but the negative reviews of Motif put me off somewhat.

    A company I used to work for did calendars for holiday gifts every year, and Vistaprint did a good job. They have specific options for the U.K. and France, but I don’t know where they are printed. I know quite a few individuals and business owners in the US who use Vistaprint for business cards, promotional items, stationary and photo books and have not heard any complaints:

    It might be worth checking out.

  4. Aww, jeez another one of these… It’s probably related to the cross-border shipping, but still, what an annoyance.

  5. Well, have wasted a couple of hours trying to get Mimeo to work.

    I first tried it in August thinking I will have my christmas calendars sorted early, however the feature set (layouts, month selections, etc) were quite limited.

    Now, it’s just buggy. Very buggy. Lots of photos in my photos library won’t load - they initially do, but then Mimeo says it can’t load the photo because they might have moved from my photos library, which is total rubbish. And it keeps changing the calendar cover layout.

    Very, very disappointing after years of doing this seamlessly with Apple print services.

    I wonder if VistaPrint is up to the quality of Apple print services?

  6. Sorry to hear it! Did you give Motif a try as well?

  7. Motif appears to not be available in the NZ store. :frowning:

    I spent an hour with Vistaprint and am well on my way. Lots of layout options and the interface is smoother than Mimeo - much less clicking around. I don’t think the quality is as good, however it is less than half of the price!

    We shall see.

  8. I have done Christmas cards with Vista print and they came out nice. I have a friend who prints calendars every year with Zazzle.


  9. Motif was updated today to work in Western Europe (version 1.7)

  10. A lot of artists and pro photographers use Blurb for short runs or one offs. Has an InDesign plugin as well as web and app options, both Mac and iOS.

  11. Just on VistaPrint:

    • it was really, really fast turnaround - they beat their expected delivery time significantly

    • quality was good, but not as good as the previous apple offering - everyone noticed

    • while there were a good selection of layout options, there could have been more

    Overall, I’m pleased.


  12. Hoping this topic isn’t yet dead, I have just encountered ifolor, a Swiss offering in the sector of replacing Apple Print services. I am still exploring, but a very rough first cut seems to suggest good quality, very high price for some products (can I still afford to send out a dozen calendars?), capable-looking software, either standalone or Apple Extension (the standalone seems more capable). There is very little written support material, a pretty responsive support email, and so far no forum, which means that fiddly technical questions have to go straight to the mother ship. I am still trying to reconstruct the 2019 calendar which I did on Photobox (disappointing quality) to understand exactly what ifolor can do for me. Will report if folks are interested.

  13. Yes I see now that it is only available in Europe. I didn’t notice because I’m European: in fact I live in two countries, France and England (don’t mention Bxt, especially not today!!!). I will ask them if they are thinking about North America. To be clear, I am not associated with them, but they are answering a lot of questions for me so they might answer that one.

  14. Just to remark that I had a long chat with a support person at ifolor, which is in Switzerland. It’s clear that the product is still developing quite fast. I queried some bugs and some limitations (the most serious for me being the inability to preview a calendar and send an electronic version of the preview to other people before committing to print), and I got the idea that they were listening and may well incorporate suggestions. My next move is to create a test project (perhaps a calendar or a book - if I can afford it!) and see what the quality is like with my own eyes. Others’ experience seems variable. I am also thinking of going back to the original products reviewed by Jason to see if they’ve matured, and how. Will report eventually if there is any interest.

  15. Graham, thanks for the info/review of ifolor. I used Motif last year for a calendar and it was ok. Experience sort of alright, quality fine, price good. This year is much more expensive, so I’ve looked around a bit and came across this thread. I downloaded ifolor and it seems good and their christmas price for calendars is much the same as I paid for Motif last year, so I’m wondering how you got on with it? Any tips/info? The only thing that is missing for me, is background colour of calendars, which can be varied, but it seems only from a limited set choice.

  16. Hi - I don’t have an answer yet, because in the end I abandoned ifolor test project referred to in my old posts because of time pressures and the missing functionality, but I am waiting at this moment to receive photos from my family so as I can make the family calendar which I’ve been doing for many years, always with Apple until the pulled the plug… last year I ended up using another service (not sure I should give the name) - the composition system on the web worked well but the print quality was very disappointing. So I’m about to get started all over again with ifolor - maybe even today! So sorry I can’t help, but I’ll come back to the discussion soon just in case it may be useful.

  17. Just to say I have in fact started with ifolor. Sadly it hasn’t begun well, because just creating a new calendar is counter-intuitive (no obvious way of naming or saving the project, apparent lack of updating of Apple Photos albums used as a source of pictures). Still, no doubt these are just teething troubles. I’ve written to ifolor support, although of course I might work it out for myself before they reply. They have an introductory book which is created with the app, but it doesn’t seem to feature calendars… hoping to give a more positive report soon.

  18. Although I live in the USA - I wanted to share that this morning the update was released, making Mimeo available for Europe. I’ve used it for the past two years, to make my calendars in via the extension in Photos and I’m now doing it for the third year. Sadly it does not import the birthdays and anniversaries from my contacts like iphoto did, but I now have a spreadsheet with each person’s birthday and anniversary so I do that first, then I begin to allocate a layout to each page and start the process of filling in photos for the Grandparents annuall calendar!
    Mimeo also added an option to Save / Export Project Pdf - which appears to be gathering all the photos. Then it prepares the PDF calendar and emails it to you for proofing. I always have it proofed by my husband!

    The integration with the Photos app with the Mimeo extension, works for me and I’ll continue to do annual calendars for the grandparents!

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