Converting Digital Photos for E-mail or the Web

There have been many times in the past when someone has sent me an e-mail with picture attachments. I don’t mind picture attachments, if they are resized. Many times the pictures have not been resized and I end up downloading 5 files that are a combined 10MB. Even on broadband this can take some time.

In this post I will outline the steps I use to resize my digital photos so they can be easily sent by e-mail or posted to a Web site. The steps outlined are general enough where they can be used by most photo editors as they all have the needed features.

Converting Digital Photos

  1. First thing to do before starting is to move the digital photos to a folder on your computer, if you haven’t already done so.
  2. Next I create another folder called E-mail which will eventually contain all the photos that I will send. Moving the photos to this folder will help prevent overwriting the originals.
  3. Note: I always make a backup of my original photos to both a CD and external hard drive. I treat my original photos as my negatives in case I need to make another print.

  4. Open up your photo editor. The editor you use is up to you. I personally use Photoshop, but this application is for advanced users.
  5. Load your photo into your photo editor.
  6. If you need to perform any colour, contrast, and brightness adjustments, now is the time to do that. Don’t, however, preform any sharpening at this stage as resizing the photo will affect the sharpness.
  7. Once all the necessary adjustments have been performed, we will now resize the image. Click the resize option in your editor. Depending on your editor, you may see the photo size in inches, pixels or both. For displaying photos on a computer monitor, we will use pixels, so make sure you can specify the size in pixels.
  8. When I resize an image I usually take the larger length and set it to 500 pixels. For example, if an image is 3000×2000, I would change the 3000 to 500, which should automatically change the 2000 to 400 pixels.
  9. Note: The 500 pixels value is a personal preference. I find that it is large enough to view, and small enough to send in an e-mail. You can choose whatever size you like.

  10. Once the photo has been resized you can now go about sharpening the photo, as making it smaller may have reduced its sharpness.
  11. After your photo has been sharpened, it is now time to save it to the E-mail folder. Your photo editor should come with a Save As… option located in the File menu, which you should click now.
  12. For photos, ensure that the file type is set to JPEG. You will now need to specify a compression amount. For images this small, I can usually get by with about 40-50% compression. This is one of those trial and error ideas. Try various compression settings to see which one provides the smallest file size without creating too many artifacts in the image.
  13. Specify the E-mail directory as the location of your file, and then save the file.

The photo is now ready to be sent in an e-mail or uploaded to a Web site. Those receiving the file will be happy that they don’t have to wait as long to download the file.

If your photo editor, such as Photoshop, has the ability to automate tasks, you may want to use that feature. This will allow you to resize and save many photos at one time with the click of a button.


This post outlined the steps I take to prepare a digital photo for sending via an e-mail or uploading to a Web site. Since many digital photos can be quite large (2MB+), it is important to resize the photos before sending them.

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