Glass Creatures

How To Make Photos Smaller

Resize photographs for email & webpages

the problem
A photo that needs to be resized

Digital cameras, including phone cameras, have truly come into their own. Millions of people now take pictures and save them to their computers. From there, photos can easily be sent by email or added to a web page.

However, there's a problem that virtually all digital camera users eventually encounter. The images are too big!

the cause

The problem comes down to pixels. Pixels are the tiny bits of data that form digital images. The size of your photo is defined by two things:

  1. The picture's width and height in pixels.
  2. How many pixels per inch (PPI) your software & monitor can display. (This is their "resolution".)

Web pages and email programs can only display 72 pixels per inch. That's their software limit. However, many digital photos have a higher PPI than that. The only way that your email software or web browser can display all those pixels is to make your image so big that the resolution comes back down to 72 pixels per inch.

This doesn't change your photo in any way. It's merely a display issue.

If you're emailing a picture, and you want the recipient to be able to print a nice copy of it, then just attach it, send it and forget about how big it looks inside the email program's window. Their printer should have a much higher PPI.

If any of the following is true, you'll need to reduce the number of pixels:

  • You can't send a file that big.
  • The recipient's mailbox isn't big enough for the file.
  • You want to put the photo on a web page.

So, how do you resize your photo? First, make an identical copy and create the new version from that. You don't want to risk losing your photo to a mistake!

Google's Picasa photo organizer is free software that runs on Windows, Linux and Mac. Download and install it. Then follow the instructions for resizing photos here.

windows-only solutions

If you use Windows, you may also want to try a free graphics viewer called IrfanView. It enables you to change the size of your photos, as well as to do many other things, like batch photo conversion and processing. Go to this link to download the latest version.

When you've finished installing IrfanView, go to this tutorial. It will take you step-by-step through how to make your image smaller.

mac-only solutions

Most Macintosh users already have what they need. To reduce your photo to a specific size, open it in Preview, go to 'Tools' and select "Adjust Size". You'll be able to resize your picture by percentage (usually the best choice), inches or pixels (for when you need an exact size).

If you just need general size choices, compose a new message in Mail, attach your photo, and look for the 'Image Size' dropdown box at the lower right corner of your message. There, you can choose small, medium, large or actual size.

Good luck! Now that you know the secret, feel free to share this tutorial with others.