How To Deal With The Problem Of Emails With Large Files

An artist contacted us at Flying Twigs recently. She sent me a bunch of images and asked for my feedback asking whether her style and our cards would be a good fit.

Here’s a tip for artists and illustrators who want to put their work in front of a potential audience: It’s better not to email a bunch of big images to a prospect.

That’s because it’s not a good idea to fill up the recipient’s email space with 50 Megabytes or more of email attachments.

So, with that in mind I gave some feedback to the artist who emailed me.

I noticed that she emailed a lot of people at the same time and I gave her a ‘heads up’ about large email enclosures and how to deal with that in future in case she didn’t know how to do it.

She took my reply in good part and asked how to do it and I decided to put my reply in a more visual form and turn it into this ‘howto’ article.

Before I go into some solutions for reducing file sizes, a word about kilobytes and megabytes.


I have the full-size original version of this image on my computer. I took the photograph and then did some work on it with Photoshop. I saved it as a JPEG and the size of the file is 14.59MB.

The size of the image is 4551×3264 pixels because that is the number of pixels on the camera I used to take the photo.

The version of the image you can see here isn’t full size.

It is just 600x430px.

Here is the area of this smaller-size image – shown by the green rectangle – compared to the size of the original image. It is about 1/40th of the area of the original.


However, not only is it a smaller area, because of the way I saved it with Photoshop’s ‘Save for Web’ capability, it has also been scaled to render on the screen at less pixel density than the original, and the size of the file is just 48 kilobytes (48KB).

That is 48KB compared to the original file size of 14.59MB.

That is less than 1/300th the file size of the original image and yet it is perfectly viewable on the screen.

It has smaller pixel dimensions, true, but then we don’t need an image that is 4551pixels wide if we only have a computer screen to show it on.

Here are some Photoshop screen grabs to show you a bit more about what I mean.

In this first shot you can see the 600pixel-wide image at 100%


In this second shot you can see the full-size image at 100%


You see I really don’t need the full-size image if I am viewing it on a computer screen. At least I don’t need the full-size image unless I want to look over every inch of the image in great detail.

How Much Compression Is Enough and How Much Is Too Much

I saved the 600x430px image at 40% compression. If I had saved it at 100% – i.e. no compression at all – then it would have been 280KB. That’s bigger than the 48KB version but it’s still a lot smaller than the huge 14.59MB of the original.

JPEGs are a lossy format. That means they compress the size of images by enabling the pixels to cleverly scan the pixels next them, and if they are the same hue, then to combine them when the file is saved.

When I save with more compression, (e.g. 40% rather than the no-compression 100%) then the pixels read several pixels around them and average out the result.

In other words, the more compression the less the resulting compressed image is faithful to the original.

That’s why I rarely compress to more than 40%.

OK, so what we have established now is that if I am sending images by email I can send small images.

Now I might want to send an image that is more that 600pixels wide. And with Photoshop or Lightroom I can choose any pixel dimensions I want.

I might choose 1,000pixels wide for a bigger image – but still one that is compressed for viewing on the screen.

Tools To Resize Images

If you don’t have Photoshop or Lightroom, you can search with Google for image-compression tools. One that I checked out and like is Image Optimizer.

You can use it online or you can download the app. And you can choose the width of the resulting image.

Let me know how it works out for you, or any other tools you use for compressing images.

Limerick For Writing201

The theme set for today is ‘limerick’
And at composing those, I am pretty slick
But enjambment’s the word
To insert in the third?
Now that leave mes feeling pretty sick.

[Guidelines for Day Four: A limerick on the theme of ‘imperfection’ and containing an enjambment*]

  • An enjambment is a grammatical sentence that stretches from one line of verse to the next.