Preparing and sending images by email

Unlike Facebook, where you can upload 10 MB files straight off your camera, attaching and sending images by email requires a little extra image preparation. This is a basic skill that’s good to have, whether you’re an artist working with a gallery or sending holiday pictures to friends.

Image files have to be sent by email in the right size and format. Often a publication or gallery will ask for two sets of images – one set as low-resolution jpgs for review, and the other as high resolution TIFs or TIFFs for printing. In both cases, the images should be prepared properly. It’s not at all difficult to learn – you just need to know where the tools are located. There are also differences in the way images attach in PC and Mac mail programs. It’s important for people to receive them properly or they may have trouble opening them.

Preparing image files for email
To create a jpg that will fly through the mail, open the original image in Photoshop and make it a decent size file first. Do this by opening Image/Image size, set the resolution to 72 first, then set the width or height to 800 pixels (one or the other, not both). The resulting image will display nice and large on most monitors, but it won’t be too large to fit the screen.

Next, under File click on Save for Web and devices instead of using “Save”. In the top right of the window which opens, set the quality to 80. Be sure the image type (also at the top right) is set to JPG. Then save the image to a folder and prepare the next one.

If you’re asked to send a TIFF, try to find out if the TIFF will be used on a Mac or PC. There is a difference in the file structure. Do not re-size the image unless you’ve been given instructions.

If you are asked to send 300 dpi CKMY TIFFs, here’s how to set the resolution and colour before saving the image. Open Image/Image size first and set the resolution to 300. To convert the images to CMYK for printing, open Image/Mode and select CMYK.

To save a TIFF, use File/Save As…  A window will open where you can type a simple file name (no spaces, no symbols). Also choose TIFF as the Format (at the bottom of the drop-down list). You should probably give the image a new file name so it won’t replace your original copy. On the following screen, choose either IBM PC or MacIntosh for “byte order”. Tip: you can always save it as one, then go back and save it as the other if you’re not sure which version is required. The PC version has a .tif file extension and the Mac version a .tiff file extension so you can tell them apart by the single or double “f”.

Attaching images to an email
Most PC programs make this pretty easy. Just start a new email, type in a recipient and subject, maybe write a line or two in the body. Then use the paperclip symbol or the word “ATTACH” to browse and attach your images.

If you work on a Mac, you’ve probably been told that PCs tend to display Mac image attachments in the body of the email instead of showing as attachments. This can be quite annoying to the PC (Windows) user. It happens because a lot of PC mail clients automatically convert HTML/Rich Text image attachments into inline images.

PC users have found ways around this dilemma although none of them are very satisfactory. In some cases, if a PC user right-clicks the image in the email body, they can save it to a folder in its original file format. In other cases, they will only get a crummy bitmap version of it. A third option is for the PC user to do a screenshot then cut out the image; however this is problematic for images which are huge and don’t entirely show on the screen.

The solution for Mac users is to switch to “plain text” email before attaching images. Find “plain text” under Preferences/Composing. You will not be able to use your graphic signature in plain text mode, but your pictures will be sent properly — as attachments — instead of being embedded in the email. Again, do not include any image signatures or your mail will be converted back to HTML and the images will embed themselves in the email.

Best wishes for your new skill set! You are welcome to email or comment for more information.