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How to compress photos for email

Updated July 19, 2017

Modern digital cameras take pictures that are extremely large--often 8 to 10 megapixels or more. At these high resolutions, an e-mail containing a few photo attachments can quickly become impractically large. Additionally, although extremely high resolutions are perfect for printing, they're unnecessary for viewing pictures on most computer monitors. You can compress digital photos to make them more practical for e-mailing.

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  1. Highlight the photos that you'd like to e-mail. Right-click on one of the highlighted photos, click on "Send To," and select "Mail Recipient." This process compresses your photo for sending with your computer's default e-mail client, such as Windows Mail, Outlook or Thunderbird. If you don't use a stand-alone e-mail client, want more control over how your photos are compressed or don't use Windows, follow the steps in Section 2 instead.

  2. Click on the "Make all my pictures smaller" radio button, and click on "Show more options" if you're running Windows XP. If you're running Windows Vista or 7, skip this step.

  3. Click on the radio button or use the drop-down menu to select the resolution that you want to resize your photos to. The smallest size you can choose is 640 x 480, which compresses the image file to as little as 5 per cent of its original size.

  4. Click on "OK" in Windows XP or "Attach" in Windows Vista and 7 when you're done. A new e-mail opens in Windows Mail, Outlook Express or Outlook with the compressed photos attached.

  5. Download and install GIMP by clicking on the link in the Resource section. GIMP is a free image editing program that runs on Windows, Mac OS and Linux. Launch the program after it's installed.

  6. Click on "File," and then click on "Open." Browse to the first photo that you want to compress, and double-click on it.

  7. Click on "Image," and then click on "Scale Image." In the window that appears, type a new height or width for the picture in pixels. The other dimensions change automatically to maintain the proper image scale. If you don't know what resolution to use, try something close to 800 x 600 or 640 x 480. Click on "Scale." If you want to make the size of the image file smaller while keeping the original dimensions, skip this step.

  8. Click on "File," and then click on "Save As."

  9. Click on the plus sign next to "Select File Type," and select "JPEG image." If your photo already has the file extension "JPG" or "JPEG," skip this step.

  10. Type a file name that's different from the current name of the photo to avoid saving over your original file, and click on "Save."

  11. Lower the "Quality" slider to adjust the size of the image file. Lower quality settings result in a smaller file, which is easier to send and receive via e-mail, but also reduce the quality of the photo.

  12. Click on "Save" to save the new image file.

  13. Tip

    High-speed Internet connections aren't available in all areas, and an e-mail containing many photos can be difficult to download over a dial-up connection. If you want to send many photos simultaneously, consider uploading them to a photo-hosting site, such as Flickr, and sending the link to your friends and family rather than e-mailing the photos themselves.

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About the Author

Jason Artman has been a technical writer since entering the field in 1999 while attending Michigan State University. Artman has published numerous articles for various websites, covering a diverse array of computer-related topics including hardware, software, games and gadgets.

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