Sending pictures by email

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It’s easy to send photos via email, with several options available for doing this, but there are some things to keep in mind when doing it.
In this issue we’ll cover the basics and also some of the issues you need to keep in mind.

It’s easy to send photos via email, with several options available for doing this, but there are some things to keep in mind when doing it.

In this issue we’ll cover the basics and also some of the issues you need to keep in mind.  In Office Watch newsletters we try to go beyond the usual fare and tell you about some of the day-to-day practicalities as well.

Where possible we’ll keep the instructions generic since the same or similar functions should be available in any reasonable email client.  Check the help files in your program if you need specific instructions.


Sending a Photo

You have a photo on your computer, from a digital camera and you want to email to someone.

There are two choices for doing that:



  1. Send the photo as an attachment to an email.  It’ll show up as an icon at the top of the email for the receiver to click and open in their picture viewer.  This is the most common option.
  2. Embed the photo into a HTML formatted message so it appears in the text of the message just like a photo in a newspaper article.  This looks nicer for people who want to read the message and not necessarily work with the photo file.  But there are compatibility issues to keep in mind.

Whichever way you choose, you need to keep an eye on the overall size of the message.  With higher resolution cameras available it’s easy to go over the recipient’s limit for incoming messages.


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Photo as an attachment

This is the easy option.  Create your email then add the photo/s as an attachment.  In Outlook use either Insert | File or use the paperclip icon on the toolbar.

The attached files will appear as a list, usually above the message text with a small icon, the file name and file size.  Note the file size of the attachment because that can be important.

Another option is to choose the file in Explorer, right-click on the menu and choose Send To | Mail Recipient – this should open a new email message in your default email program.  Depending on your computer setup you may get an option to compress the images to a smaller file size for sending.

If the picture or other file came to you in an email you can pass that file along in an outgoing message.  With most email programs you should be able to drag and drop and attachment from another email into the message you’re sending out.  Or click Forward for the email that has the attachment then change the From, Subject  and message text (this only works if the email program supports forwarding including the attachment, some drop the attachment).



$$PAGE$$Photo in the message

You can embed the image into the message itself as opposed to an attachment or linking to a picture on a web site.  To do this you need to send a richly formatted (HTML) message – plain text won’t work.  Most email programs will let you do this but the formatting options differ a lot.

In Outlook choose Insert | Picture | from File – this will insert the picture into the message itself.  It might be way too large for the message but that’s easily fixed.


Tip: this works best if you use MS Word as your email editor within Outlook.  This is the default but you can check at Tools | Options | Mail Format.

To change the dimensions of the image click on the black box in one corner of the image and drag it towards the center.  This will shrink the visible image in size without changing the overall proportions.

If you’re a little familiar with Word then you’ll find all the standard picture options are available like cropping and resizing from the Picture toolbar.

Right-click on the image and choose Format Picture to see some useful options:



  • Size – sometimes the image you’ve imported is really big and its hard to shrink it by dragging.  The Size dialog helps you bring it back into a workable form.  Change the Scale proportion to reduce the size of the image, make sure the ‘Lock aspect ratio’ is checked so both the height and width scales stay in sync.
  • Layout – this lets you position the image and let the text flow around the image.  A common setting is to choose Square and Right to put the image on the right side of the message window with text flowing around it on the left.
  • Picture | Compress – this is essential for any email with images.  There’s little point in sending a 2-3MB plus image when you’ve reduce the dimensions to a much smaller form.  The Compress option will shrink the file size of the image you send without affecting the file saved on your computer.  We generally choose ‘All pictures’ , ‘Web/Screen’ resolution.  ‘Compress Pictures’ and ‘Delete cropped areas of pictures’ leave checked, it doesn’t matter if there are no cropped areas or if the images were compressed before.

Peter and Phil use this method to create travel journals when they are away.  Friends and family ‘stranded’ at home get a message about the trip complete with photos to accompany the story. 


Tip: if you have some friends or family without email, arrange with a friend to print out the message and post a copy to the email deprived.

If your email program doesn’t seem to support a lot of picture formatting you have the option to write the message in Microsoft Word or other word-processing program.  When it’s finished, copy the document and paste it into a new email message.  The formatting should be retained (though your mileage may vary).

Be careful when formatting your message because you can’t assume that the receiver has the same viewable message size that you do.  In particular a narrow email window can squeeze the text and wrapped images so the whole effect is spoiled.  The right-side reading pane in Outlook is a good example of this.  Before sending your message try adjusting the window size narrow and wide to make sure it looks OK in a variety of sizes (of course you can go to extremes at both ends).



$$PAGE$$Link to a web site

For the sake of completeness there are other options as well which are either not used much by individuals or beyond the scope of Email Essentials.

You could post the images to a web site and link from your email to those images.  These days that usually means the receiver will have to explicitly permit the linked images to be downloaded.

There are also plenty of photo sharing sites around where you can upload images and make them available from a web site. 

However you’re choosing to send your pictures, there’s always the important question of message size – a topic for the next issue of Email Essentials.


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