Photography Software

How do I print an image at a specific size?

print an image at a specific size
Inch perfect: get your print dimensions exactly right with IrfanView

You’ve got a photo frame and want to fill it with an image at the precise dimensions, say 6in x 4in. You go to your favourite art app, but it ain’t interested. It can print on different size papers, no problem, but if you want to print an image at a specific size on regular A4 paper, it can’t help you.

Stop screaming and wasting ink. Here’s how to print an image at the exact size you need it using a free piece of software.

Print an Image at a Specific Size

First you need to download the magnificent IrfanView. You can do this either via the Windows Store (my recommended route if you’re running Windows 10) or directly from the IrfanView website.

Once the software has been installed on your PC, fire up the application, then click File > Open and select the photo you wish to print.

Now select File > Print or press Ctrl + P together to open the Print menu.

At the top of the window that appears, make sure the correct printer and paper size is selected. Remember, it doesn’t matter if the paper you’re using is larger than the size of image you want to print. We’re going to show you how to control the exact size of the image itself, not the paper.

Now transfer your attention to the bottom of the Print window and select which unit you wish to work in – centimetres or inches.

Next, in the middle of the window, where it says Print Size, select Custom. Make sure the Aspect Ratio is ticked to avoid the image being warped. If your image isn’t in the correct aspect ratio for the frame you wish to fill, see our Fixing the Aspect Ratio instructions below.

If at this point your image is already looking warped, don’t panic. Enter the width of the image you wish to print in the Width box, and the height will automatically be adjusted. So, in the screenshot below, I entered a width of 6in and the height was automatically adjusted to 4in.

Press Print and a precise 6in x 4in emerges on a sheet of A4. Cut it out, pop it in the frame.

Fixing the Aspect Ratio

So what if the frame you’re trying to fill has a different aspect ratio to your photo? Most cameras shoot at an aspect ratio of 3:2 (three parts wide for every two parts high), which is why the image above would fit perfectly in a 6in x 4in frame. But what if you were trying to fill a 7in x 5in frame?

You could just untick the Aspect Ratio box in the instructions above, but you’ll end up with a warped image, because the photo is being squashed or stretched into an ‘unnatural’ shape.

The best thing to do is crop the image to the aspect ratio of the frame you’re trying to fill.

To do this in IrfanView, press Shift + C together to open the Create Custom Selection menu. There are plenty of common ratios to choose from there, but our 7:5 ratio isn’t among them. In that case, select custom ratio and enter 1.4 (which is 7 divided by 5), then click the “Save and draw on image” button.

IrfanView custom ratio

Now, hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard and drag the mouse over the image. This will draw a box around your image at the correct aspect ratio. Repeat until you’ve got all the key bits of the image within the selection. When you’re happy with the selection, click Edit > Cut Area Outside of Selection and you’ll be left with a perfectly sized image that’s ready to print using the instructions above.

IrfranView cropped image

Now read this: how do I automatically select the subject of a photo in Photoshop?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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