Photo Compression When Sending Email

At the November 16, 2011 Computer Interest Group one topic was sending family photos by email. The issue was whether the photos are compressed resulting in lower resolution images causing blurry images when printed. The LinkedIn “Adobe Photoshop Group,” I subscribe to, addressed a similar issue the week before.

As we discussed, the Free Google Picasa photo editing software automatically compresses photos for faster transmission by email and likely so do other photo editing and email programs. The same image compression is intentionally done in Photoshop/Elements when using File > Save for Web & Devices by selecting how much compression is desired. Metadata such as camera settings, gps coordinates, and manually added metadata are also removed by default.

Microsoft Office Outlook does the same thing by default, as do most email programs, so that email transmits as fast as possible. Pressing F1, the function key, opens the Help menu so a search to explain how to do this was found. The screen shot below shows the Microsoft Outlook 2007 email program menus.

  • After an image is loaded into the body of the email
  • Click the photo to make sure it is selected
  • Click the Format tab on the ribbon
  • On the left side in the Adjust group, click Compress Pictures
  • In the Compress Pictures dialog box, Click options to open the Compression Settings dialog box
  • The default settings are shown in the screen shot below, so adjust settings as needed

On Windows computers the monitors only show 96 ppi (pixels per inch) resolution, although most people use the number 72 ppi, which is the monitor resolution of Apple computers. When printing, the number used is 300 dpi (dots per inch) for color photo scans since it takes many tiny dots of ink, 3 for each dot of RGB color (RGB is red, green, blue mixed to produce millions of colors), to produce the same appearance as what a square pixel produces on a computer monitor. This is why scanned images should be a minimum of 300 dpi to produce the same high resolution seen on the computer screen.

The procedure for attaching images and adjusting compression is similar. (The .bmp screen shot image below is lower resolution than the .png image above because the Snipping Tool used above closes the drop menu when I screen shot the monitor, while the old fashion “Prt Scr” paste option used below doesn’t. Figure that one out?)

  1. Create a new e-mail message in Outlook.
  2. On the Insert tab, in the Include group, click Attach File
  3. On the Insert tab, click the Include Dialog Box Launcher Button image.
  4. In the Attachment Options pane, under Picture options, in the Select picture size drop-down list, click the size of the picture you want to include.
  5. Notice the unchecked Check box at the bottom, check it to make the Attachment Options pane appear every time an attachment is made
  6. A screen shot shows the menus below:

If adjusting email resolution is too confusing or menus for your email program can not be found after searching Help, one option is to the convert photos to pdf files and email those as attachments. That is a completely different topic of discussion, techniques, software, etc.

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