How do you e-mail photos?

Man in front of computer screen showing picture of house
E-mailing photos is simpler than you might realize, no matter which programs you're using. See more computer pictures.
B Busco/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

It used to be that when you befriended someone, they'd take out their wallet and unfold a 2-foot-long chain of photos of their loved ones to show you. Now, most people can instead pull out their camera -- or even cell phone -- and with the push of a button, shuffle through dozens to hundreds of digital pictures.

Though you may mourn the fact that print photos are becoming less common, digital pictures have many advantages. You may still choose to create print copies from digital photos, but now, a digital picture of your spouse or children can also adorn the background of your cell phone display or the wallpaper on your computer desktop. And, perhaps the main benefit of digital pictures is this: You can quickly and easily share them with others.


One way to share digital photos is via e-mail, which is actually a simple process. Whether you use desktop-based e-mail (such as Microsoft Outlook or Apple's Mail) or a web-based service (such as Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo), the core process for attaching a photo is pretty much the same:

  1. Save the digital photo on your computer with a name and in a folder where you will remember how to find it later.
  2. In your e-mail system, open up a new message.
  3. Look for an option on the toolbars to "attach a file." The icon representing a file attachment is usually a paperclip. Or, in your e-mail service, there might be a menu called "Insert" (along the same toolbar as the "File" and "Edit" menus) that includes the option of "File Attachment."
  4. This should open up a new window that allows you to browse your computer's files. (Or, choose the option to "Browse" if it doesn't automatically.)
  5. Use the browsing window to find the photo you saved earlier, click on the file and choose "Insert" (or whatever variation your computer uses, such as "Attach" or "OK." Or, simply double clicking the file may also work).

And, voila! Your photo should now be attached to your e-mail message. You can send your message to another e-mail address.

However, something could prevent your recipient from getting the e-mail at all. Read on to find out what that is and how to prevent it, as well other tips.





Tips for E-mailing Photos

Digital photos may be very large -- that is, they take up a lot of data space on your computer and on e-mail accounts. A large photo can be good for when you want a high quality picture, but it can be bad if it's too big to send via e-mail. In particular, your recipient's e-mail account may not have enough available space to receive the photo.

You should be able to see the digital size of a file when you are in "Details" viewing mode in a browsing window or if you right-click the file and choose "Properties" or "Get Info." Any size around 1000 kilobytes (KB) or less should be fine -- 1000 KB is equal to 1 megabyte (MB). Avoid sending any photo that is over 2000 KB (2 MB) [source: Microsoft].


So what if you have a picture that is too big? Reducing the size shouldn't degrade the quality significantly (for purposes of viewing on a computer, it will be fine). You can use several methods to reduce a photo size. One trick is to save the picture in a compressed graphic format, such as .jpg, .png or .gif (by choosing one of these options in the "Save as type" drop-down menu when you are saving the file).

Instead of following the process on the last page, your computer might be configured to reduce the size for you. Try right-clicking the file and look for an option to send it via e-mail (which will automatically attach it to your default e-mail). It might prompt a window asking whether you want it to reduce the size.

If this is not an option, or you don't want to use the default e-mail, you have other alternatives. The Paint application on Windows has an option to resize the image, as well as the more advanced Adobe Photoshop, among other programs. Several free software programs, such as Shrink Pic, are also available online for download and allow you to reduce photo sizes. You may want to consider downloading one of these if you send photos frequently.

Another tip: If you are sending multiple large photos, try sending them in multiple e-mail messages. This will increase the chances they will get through [source: Microsoft].

With these tips, you should be ready to share special moments with your friends and family.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • FreeEmailTutorials,com. "Emailing pictures from Internet Explorer." FreeEmailTutorials,com. (March 31, 2010)
  • Microsoft. "Attach a file or other item to an e-mail message." Microsoft Office Online. (March 31, 2010)
  • Williams, Andy. "Understanding Digital Photo, Graphics, Photos, File Properties, JPEG, DPI, Image Size, Quality, Compression," CritterZone. (March 31, 2010)