Preparing Pictures for email

The following is a quick guide to preparing photographs for uploading to the web or before including them in emails and emailed documents.

First The Software

If you have a scanner or a digital camera, you probably already have the software to resize and crop them (and it probably drives you crazy. However, if you do not, or simply don’t know how, there is a great free program called Irfan View, which can help out (I can honestly say I use some aspect of this “Swiss Army” knife tool every day).

Irfan View can be downloaded from its website
It is simple to install – simply download the installation file, and run it. You will be prompted with a few questions about the installation, and after a few steps the program will be installed and accessible from your start menu. Don’t tick the ebay option, send him a donation instead.

Using Irfan View to Crop Images

Let’s say you have a picture of a group and you need a picture of just one person from that group. This means you need to “crop” the image.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to cropping an image in Irfan View.

  • Open up Irfan View
  • From the menu bar, click File -> Open
  • Select the image.
  • On the open image, visualise a box around the person you want to cut out of the image.
  • Click where you think the top-left of this box should be, then drag down and right to where you think the bottom-right of the box should be, then release the mouse button.
  • If you are not happy with your selection – just click anywhere on the image and repeat the previous step.
  • When you are happy with the area you have outlined – Select click Edit -> Crop Selection from the menu bar.

You will see that the area you selected is now the entire image. From here, you can simply save the image as is (File -> Save As), or go on to resize the image and prepare it for upload.

Using Irfan View to Resize Images

If you have an image that won’t fit fully on your screen without zooming out, chances are you’re going to need to resize it before uploading.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to resizing an image in Irfan View:

  • Open up Irfan View
  • From the menu bar, click File -> Open
  • Select the image.
  • The image should now appear in Irfan View.
  • From the menu bar, click Image -> Resize / Resample
  • When the resize / resample box appears, make sure the ‘Preserve aspect ratio’ checkbox is checked. This makes sure the height of the image is resized in proportion to the width.
  • In the ‘Set New Size’ area, set the width to something like 640. If the size is already 640 or less, the image should be small enough to upload.
  • You will see that the height value automatically changes with the width. If it doesn’t recheck that you have ‘Preserve Aspect Ratio‘ checked.
  • Click ‘OK’, and the image will now be resized.

From here, you can save the image as is (File -> Save As) or prepare it for upload by changing the file format to .jpg, and compressing it to 80%.

Using Irfan View to Compress Images

Irfan View allows you to compress image files so that they are smaller, and easier to upload.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to compressing images using Irfan View:

  • Open up Irfan View
  • From the menu bar, click File -> Open
  • Select the file you want to compress
  • The image should now appear in Irfan View
  • From the menu bar, click File -> Save As
  • From ‘Save as Type’ select ‘JPG – JPEG Files’.
  • On the right will be a dialogue box giving you compression information.
  • Slide ‘Save Quality’ to the right or left until it is ’80’. (or even less if you don’t think it ruins the picture. As a rule of thumb never go below 50 unless you have a really good reason)
  • Give the file a new name e.g. oldimagename_SMALL, and save.

If you have cropped and resized the image before compressing it, it should now be ready for upload.

All of these steps apply equally to preparing pictures and images for Powerpoint, Word or email. Don’t forget a 3 Megapixel picture displayed as a small image on the screen is still a 3 Megapixel picture. Your documents will reflect this when you save them.