Sending Pictures By Email :: Digital Photo Secrets

Sending Pictures By Email

by David Peterson 8 comments

Do your images take a long time to email to your relatives? Do your friends ask that you not send pictures to them because of the download time?

This usually happens when your photos are a very large size. Large images take a long time to transfer over the Internet.

Cameras available now have 6 mega pixel or more resolution which means that there are 6 million pieces of information for each photo that you take. That's a lot of pieces to store and transfer! The JPEG format for storing photos helps by compressing the data (so a 6 million piece image can be stored in about 3.5 megabytes) but 3 megabytes for a single image is still a lot of data and can take a number of minutes to email - not to mention the fact that a lot of email programs can't handle an email that large. Particularly if you send more than one photo.

Fortunately there is a solution. Your images don't need to be sent at full size to everyone. In fact, if your friends will only look at your photos on the computer screen (and not print them), then you can save a lot of time by reducing the size of your picture files before sending.

Use an image editing program like Photoshop Elements or Paint Shop Pro to reduce the size of your files. Or use my favorite program, the free Google Picasa which makes emailing photos really easy.

I reduce the size of my images to 800 pixels in width (or 800 pixels in height for a portrait shot). This creates a large enough photo so that my friends can see what's in the photo, but the file size is small enough - between 0.1 and 0.3 megabytes - that it's quick and painless to send over email.

If you have a whole lot of photos to send in the one email, I recommend reducing the size even further to 400 pixels wide. The resulting file size will be under 0.1 megabytes per image.

Remember to never save your reduced size photo over the top of your original file. By reducing the size, you're also removing detail from the image. If you save over the top, you'll lose the additional detail of the original photo forever.

Here's how I do the resize:

Google Picasa

  • Either open the photo I want, or select a range of photos from my library by holding down the CTRL key and clicking on the images
  • <li>Click on the File menu and select Email...</li>
    <li>Choose your email program (either your local mail program, or GMail if you use that)</li>
    <li>Picasa will resize your photos and open a new message with the smaller photos attached ready to send!</li>
    <li>Enter your recipients names and select Send.</li>

Photoshop Elements 4 (or 5)

  • Load the Elements Organizer
  • <li>Select the photos you would like to email by holding the CTRL key down and selecting images</li>
    <li>Click on the "Share" toolbar button and select Email, or select the File menu and choose Email</li>
    <li>In the wizard, you can select people to send your photo to (but I usually leave that blank and fill the recipients in later on)</li>
    <li>I select "Photo Mail (HTML)" from the format dropdown to the right. I also enter a message for my friends in the "Message" area and click Next</li>
    <li>Then I select a frame for my photos. Choose a fancy frame, or a simple one. Click Next Step</li>
    <li>Now, I choose the photo size (either the smallest, or next largest) and a layout I like and click Next</li>
    <li>Elements will create the email and open a new message ready for you to enter your recipients.</li>
    <li>Click Send!</li>

A final note: Another way to share your photos is to upload to a photo site like It's a free service that can be a little daunting which is why I have created a video that walks you through the most common areas of Flickr, and how to upload your photos. You'll find the video as a bonus to my Digital Photo Secrets book.

By resizing your photos before sending, you'll cut down on sending time and your friends and family will have more time to look at your wonderful memories!

Most people think this post is Useful. What do you think?


  1. Frankie says:

    I cannot thank you enough for the article post.Really thank you! Great.

  2. Louis says:

    Hi, I have exactly the opposite problem now with Outlook Express. Whenever I want to send a picture in a small size to someone who just want to look at it onscreen, I also use the MSPowertoy rightclick (Large) option which does an excellent job. However, as Maurice rightly pointed out, download speeds have drastically improved, so if I want to send a full size e.g 1.5 mb picture to my family who wants to print it, I just sent it, and ignored Microsoft's popup about downsizing. Now someone has actually used the MS downsizing popup, and I find it impossible now to send normal size pictures with O/Xpress --- even if choose the 'do not make smaller 'option, it would still decreae the sizr e.g from 1.5mb to say 1.1 mb ehen sending. Is there some code I can insert somewhere that neutralises MS Windows from interfering with the actual size of my pics when I send it through O/xpress ?

  3. Dale says:

    "Or in windows XP you can right click on the picture in my pictures, select resize pictures"
    That only works if you download the add on to Internet explorer its free on microsoft site and works well. But is not there until you get it. there are a list of add ons some usefull some not depends on what ya are doing.

  4. Bruce says:

    If you use a Mac and you will of course put your photos in iPhoto you just select the ones you wish to email and click on email and you have the choice how small to make your images. All done with mirrors.

  5. Andrew says:

    A very important detail is resolution. So 72 dpi is deep enough to screen display.

  6. Maurice says:

    I also immediately thought about Jason's and Pat's comments when reading this article, but the big question is:

    • Does XP/Vista downsize the pictures and keep the same level of quality / compression, or will one suffer from a larger loss compared to doing it the "manual way"? Because the manual way requires quite a bit more work!

    Also, I email my 3MB pictures anyway because internet connections are improving in terms of speed. I tend to RAR/ZIP them if I send a large bunch.

  7. Jason Connolly says:

    Or in windows XP you can right click on the picture in my pictures, select resize pictures.
    This gives you 4 size options to pick from:
    1: small (fits a 640x480 screen)
    2: Medium ( fits a800x600 screen)
    3: Large (fits a 1024x768 screen)
    4: Handheld pc ( fits a 240x320 screen)
    This makes a copy of the selected pictures in the file where the pictures are stored.
    And if you click on the advanced tab there is also a custom button so you select the size of your choice.
    Now thats simple enough.

  8. Pat Grunwald says:

    In Windows XP one can merely highlight the title of the picture or photo that one wishes to email and click on Email this File under File and Folder Tasks. A box with the choice of Make All My Pictures Smaller - or keep original size - will appear. If you choose to, the reduced photo is then sent to Outlook Express as an attachment to an email. Couldn't be easier.

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About David Peterson
David Peterson is the creator of Digital Photo Secrets, and the Photography Dash and loves teaching photography to fellow photographers all around the world. You can follow him on Twitter at @dphotosecrets or on Google+.