Sharing Pictures of Documents – A big little problem

My student Cathy came up with this problem. She attached a scan of an old letter to an e-mail. The recipient complaint that it was unreadable. She had sent pictures that way many times and everyone seemed happy enough. Not this time.

Here I am using a “simulated” old letter. Viewing an enlarged portion of the original shows that it is quite readable (if you pardon the Latin), but the letter as received is quite bad as shown here. original - enlarged view as sent - enlarged view

So what happened?


She was using Hotmail. To attach the picture, she used Attach – Photo, just like she always does. Hotmail handles this in a way that many users don’t realize or don’t remember: Hotmail automatically scales the picture down to limit the larger dimension to  attaching in Hotmail600 pixels. This is not usually a problem with photos of people or things, but a scanned document, originally page size, now becomes reduced to were it may no longer be readable. In this case the original was 1700 by 2066 pixels – the file size was 531 KB. Hotmail reduced it to 494 x 600 pixels, file size just 32.4 KB.


A smaller file is faster to upload and to download. It takes less space on the Hotmail server. In days when Internet access speeds were not as fast – think dial-up – and when storage space was much more limited, this was the thing to do. It is still a good idea. Although Hotmail storage is now no longer an issue, upload and download speed still is, especially when you share a number of picture.

So what is the solution?

There are several:

1) Hotmail – Send the picture not as a Photo but as a File. This may not be easy to remember, and it certainly may lead to lengthy upload and download times.

send to mail

2) Send To –  Rather than attaching to an e-mail, start by selecting the item in Windows Explorer. Right-click and choose Send To – then in the submenu click Mail Recipient. Aselect file sizen Attach File dialog opens to allow you to






select the Picture Size. This will remind you that the file can be reduced, or sent full size. The mail client then opens so you can compose your e-mail. There is an additional advantage: By selecting the attached picture first you wont forget to do so. I often need to send an “oops – I forgot to attach the picture” e-mail with the forgotten attachment.

3) Windows Live Photo Gallery – In Windoes Live Photo Gallery select the picture then click E-mail in the toolbar. It then works just as described in 2) above.

4) SkyDrive – The best way in my opinion. Upload the file to your SkyDrive – you can make it private and inform your recipient of the file. This eliminates the download at the recipients end when the e-mail comes in. So much easier! The recipient can then download the file at a convenient time.

Don’t forget: Hotmail Photo attachments are quietly resized. A good thing most of the time – but can be quite an annoyance for scanned documents.









About Ludwig

Lending a helping hand where I can. . . My motto: If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.
This entry was posted in Digital Photos, Mail and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.