Sending Attachments and Files

Sending e-mail attachments is the most common way of sending photographs or documents. There are other ways of doing this, and often they can be better.

One basic rule is that it is the responsibility of the sender to make sure the file being sent can be opened at the other end. It's no good assuming the whole world has exactly the same programmes we have on our computers.

Sending Photographs

Many images people want to send as attachments do not have to be large. They might be reference images or a picture of the new-born baby and will probably only be viewed on the screen or printed out as a small print.

Firstly, resize the image.

  • In Photoshop, go the Image > Image Size.
  • Change the Resolution to 72ppi.
  • Set the longer side to 600 pixels and click on OK.
    This creates an image which will be over 8 inches or 20 cm on its longer side and this is plenty big enough for normal needs.

The best way of saving the file when sending as an attachment is with the Save For Web command. 

Photoshop Save for Web
  • Go to File > Save For Web
  • Choose the JPEG compression options
  • Set Quality to 60%Check the Optimized box. Click OK.
  • In the next box, name the file. 
    Make sure the .jpg is in the name.

Most computers will accept any type of name, so the name might be our-new-baby.jpg. or our_new_baby.jpg. Hyphens or underscores should be used instead of gaps between the words.

Some older systems require there to be a maximum of 8 letter or numbers, a full stop then the extension of JPG, such as NEW_BABY.JPG. This is known as a MS-DOS compatible file name. If you are not sure about the destination of the attachments, use this method.

The file size of a compressed image will vary depending how much detail and colour are in the image, but is likely to be less than 80k for the dimensions above.

If you have an older version of Photoshop which does not have Save For Web, then save the image as a regular JPEG.

Mac computers will open anything; Windows PC computers will not. When a Mac creates a file, there is a Data fork and a Resource fork. Send a regular JPEG to a PC and it will receive one file for each. One file will contain the image information, while the other will be empty. Older Macs required the use of a very small programme to strip out the Resource fork. 
Mac users today should ensure the Send Windows Friendly Attachments box is checked when emailing attachments.

AOL puts its own compression on files and this can mess things up a bit and prevent the receiving of an image. If you frequently fail to receive or send attachments successfully, use another Internet Service Provider.
Some ISPs put a limit of less than 1Mb on the size of attachments, because large files can slow done the overall service. As broadband gets faster, acceptable file sizes are likely to be much larger than this - 8Mb or higher.

If a file is larger than their limit, the receiver's ISP will block the e-mail and the attachments. The sender does not get an error message and the receiver receives nothing. The sender might not even know this until there is a complaint.
Files saved with the method described above should have no problems here. 

Sending Larger Files

Sending large images over the internet moves into professional use. 
If an image is going to be reproduced, an A5 image will be 13Mb; an A4 will be 26Mb; and an A3 image will be 52Mb. 
The Save For Web facility cannot cope with files of this size and they will need to be compressed as regular JPEGs at high or maximum quality. They are still going to be large. An A4 image saved at a high value of 11 is likely to be over 4Mb, so a broadband connection becomes necessary.

Bearing in mind what was said above about ISP size restrictions when sending large e-mail attachments, this is an important consideration. Very often it is quite safe to send very large files as attachments, but it is something which needs to be checked. It can be a good idea to send a regular e-mail notifying the receiver that a second e-mail with a large attachment is following. If they receive nothing, other action can be taken.

There can be a further problem when sending large files via e-mail. A receiver might collect mail from more than one location - from home, from work and on a laptop while travelling. That 9Mb attachment worked all right on the office broadband, but over a standard modem on location it will be another story. Not everyone has a webmail account or knows how to use it in order to avoid downloading the attachment.

It's best to avoid e-mail attachments for large files unless someone specifically requests it. 

File delivery service
There are many companies on the net who now offer a service to transfer large files. The customer loads the file to their server and a message is sent to the receiver who can then download the file. and are just two of such firms. Some of them offer a free basic service, which will transfer large files but restricts size and the number of deliveries in a month. For a more comprehensive service then a paid account is necessary. 

Using a website 
Another way is to upload larger files on to a website. Given a name like new-image.jpg a file will sit on the site on its own. 
The client is given the domain name, such as 
The image will appear in the client's web browser window where s/he can Right-Click with a PC or Control-Click with a Mac and download the image.

If there are a number of images, they can be put together with the Web Photo Gallery feature in Photoshop. It is under File > Automate > Web Photo Gallery. 
File size can be specified and a folder of images is wrapped up as an html package with thumbnails. 
The client is given the address of the folder, such as and its own mini website comes up. Individual images can then be downloaded. 

Sending More Than One Photograph

Servers vary and some of the cheaper services cannot accept more than one attachment successfully. If you are sending more than one attachment on an e-mail and they get lost in the ether, this could be the reason.

If you want to send six images, for example, they can be put into one folder and turned it into a contact sheet in Photoshop. Contact  sheets become an image and they can be sent as attachments.

contact sheet

This procedure will make a contact sheet for 6 images, but any number can be included.

  • Go to File > Automate > Contact Sheet.
  • Click on Browse / Choose and browse to find this new folder, then choose it. 
    Under Documents, Units can be Inches, cm or pixels.
  • Enter a Width of 8 inches and a Height of 10 inches. The contact sheet size can be bigger if desired and the six images will be resized to fit.
  • Enter a Resolution of 72 pixels/inch.
  • For Mode, select RGB Color.
  • For Thumbnails, have 2 Columns and 3 Rows.
  • If the images have been rotated to the correct orientation, leaving Rotate For Best Fit unchecked will keep them that way.
  • If you want captions, check the box for Use Filename as Caption. OK. 
    The resulting flattened contact sheet should be saved with Save For Weband it will still be a small file.

If your imaging editing programme cannot make a contact sheet like this, then one can be created manually.

  • Create a new A4 file with a white background. This can act like a sheet of paper.
  • Drag the images individually on to the new document and resize them.
  • Lay the images out on the page.
  • Flatten this page and save it as a JPEG via Save for Web.
    This way you will be only send one image.

A series of images files can be turned into a PDF Presentation. 
PDF is Portable Document Format and these files can be opened by any computer system - Windows, Mac, Unix.

A computer needs the Acrobat Reader, which all but the oldest of computers will have. Modern Macs come with Preview, which is their own programme for viewing just about anything. The PDF Reader is more versatile and free from It helps to have the latest version installed. 

The PDF Presentation function is in Photoshop CS but not in earlier versions.
Go to File > Automate > PDF Presentation.

Sending Documents

When sending printed text documents as attachments, it is polite, convenient and common sense to make sure the receiver can read it. 
By far the most used word processing programme on the planet is Microsoft Word. If you know the receiver has Word then there is no problem. Some people can't stand it and the mention of Microsoft gives them the shakes.

Some other programmes have translators so they can open Word documents easily, but the constant upgrading of programmes means there is always some catching up to be done.

A way round this is to save the document in Rich Text Format. RTF is fairly basic text without all the fancy bits, and the coding is universal; well, almost. Microsoft changed their RTF coding slightly so a Word RTF document does not always open in the same font and size, but overall the system works.

  • Go to Save As.
  • From the Format options, choose RTF.
  • Name the file and add .rtf to the end.

As we have seen above, PDF documents are cross-platform. With the full Acrobat PDF programme, a text file, with or without images, can be saved as a PDF file. Some programmes such as Photoshop and InDesign can also create PDFs. The amount of compression can be changed and the system produces a neat and small file good for e-mailing. 

how to use Photoshop PDF

PDF Presentation is another way of wrapping up many images together. The facility is in Photoshop CS and the images must first be saved as PDF files for the system to work. 
Go to File > Automate> PDF Presentation. 
Since CS4, this function is in Bridge
It can be made to work as a slideshow or as a multi-page document. It is also possible to make a PDFpackage with the full version of Adobe Acrobat. Such a package can be sent as an e-mail attachment or put on the website as, for example, cars.pdf.

When a PDF image or folder is on a website, how it opens depends slightly on the way the client's browser is configured. Usually a PDF file will download immediately on to the Desktop. Sometimes a PDF file will open in the web browser and can be downloaded from there.

Each image can then be opened in Photoshop by using File > Open and browsing to the image. 

An advance on this is to use a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) programme. This is a more secure method of transferring files and they can be protected with a password. Files have their own space on a dedicated server and the web address will start with ftp://www.etc, rather than http://www.etc. 
The client is sent the web address, given a username and password and can download the files in their own time. Each client can have their own password-protected folder which will transfer files either way. 
Some web programmes such as Go-Live have this function or specialist programmes can be found with a web search. 
FTP is a more involved than e-mail and both parties need to be a little more computer savvy. 

Zipping and Stuffing

Files and folders can be compressed another way and this method makes very successful attachments.

Winzip zip compression

The main compression system for PC is WinZip. WinZip will support ZIP and CAB files, as well as other internet file formats like BinHex, Gzip, MIME, TAR and UUencode. 
The file extension is .zip. Files and folders are reduced in size slightly and they can be encrypted so that a password is required for opening. All Windows PCs will have it already.
Further details are at 

Stuffit zip compression

For Macs, there is Allume StuffIt (Stuff it), but it is in fact cross-platform. It will write and open for Windows and Mac. 
The StuffIt Expander is a free utility from and will open StuffIt files, WinZip files and such formats as BinHex, DD, GZ/TGZ, LZH, MIME, RAR, PF, UUencode files and the Unix files of .tar and .gzip. 
The file extension is .sit.

The Reader for opening the files is free but to compress the files in the first place, then the full version has to be bought.

Once again, you need to know what system the receiver or client is using. Even though there is a certain amount of cross-over, this is not 100% and the client might not wish to download the relevant reader just at that moment.

It can save time and space to find exactly what size of file the client wants, in the form of dimensions (width and height) and resolution as pixels per inch. A CMYK file will be larger than an RGB by virtue of having four channels rather than three.

Files and folders prepared with ZIP or StuffIt will not save much space over any original JPEG compression, but they have other advantages.

  • They can be sent as e-mail attachments, put on to a website or put on a CD.
  • The header file is secure and will not be removed or corrupted by e-mail, web or FTP servers.
  • Many images can be included in one folder.
  • Specific instructions about the images, copyright and licensing details can be given in a separate Read Me file. This also needs to be compatible across platforms, either as a PDF or written with an html editing programme. With the extension .htm then it will open in a browser like Explorer, Netscape or Opera.
  • Files and folders compressed with StuffIt can be given password protection. This will encrypt the files and improve security. A separate e-mail can be sent to the client explaining the file.

Mac OS10 also has its own system of compression. 
Control-click on the file or folder to be compressed and in the Context menu, choose Create Archive of . . . . 
A new file is created with a .zip extension, while the original remains intact.

These three compression systems all make safe and convenient attachments. 

Summary on Attachments

Text documents

  • Ensure that the receiver has a programme that can open the file.
  • If in doubt, save the document in Rich Text Format with a .rtfextension.
  • Alternatively convert it into a PDF document, especially if it contains graphics.
  • Send as an e-mail attachment.


  • With images which are just for reference and fun interest, resize to 8 inchs or 20cm on the longer side at 72ppi.
  • Save as a JPEG with the .jpg extension.
    Every computer can open a JPEG.
  • Small images files (under 1Mb) can always go via e-mail.
  • Larger files can go by e-mail if broadband is in use and the Internet Service Providers have no size retrictions.
  • Very large image files can also be transferred using a large file delivery service.
  • Very large files should be put on a website from where the receiver can download them.

Many images

  • Several small images can usually be sent as attachments on the same e-mail.
  • They can also be turned into a mini-website or slideshow with Photoshop's Web Gallery. This might still be small enough to go via e-mail.
  • Several larger images can be bundled up as a Photoshop Web Gallery or a PDF Presentation.
  • The easiest, no nonsense, way is to put all the images into a folder and wrap it up with WinZip, Stuffit or with Mac compression.
  • A very large Gallery should be sent via a website.

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