Don’t attach photos – link to them!


I find it a bit annoying when someone gets back from vacation, and they have lots of cute pictures to show everyone, so they send out an email with dozens of pictures attached to it. So now you have all these high-resolution pictures taking up space in your email, and if you use an email program such as Outlook Express it can take a long time to download them. Then what do you do with them? You either save them for future reference or delete them. It’s all a very inefficient process.

But there is a better way!

What if your friend or relative, instead of attaching all those photos to the email, sent you an email that just said, “Click here to see our vacation pictures”. Zero download time, no wasted space, and nothing to delete. Big improvement!

If you would like to be able to show your digital pictures to your friends that way, here’s what you do:

1. Get a Google account (if you use Gmail, that user name and password is all you need). You can get a free Google account at

2. Get Google’s free digital image program, Picasa ( Many of you already have this (whenever I set up a new PC, it is part of the standard installation procedure). If you do anything with digital pictures, you need it. It does soooo much, and it’s free. Trust me.

(now I am skipping forward to the point where you have Picasa installed and you have a folder of pictures that you want your friends to see)

3. In Picasa, click once on the left side to highlight the folder that contains those special pictures. In the lower left “holding area” you will see that Picasa recognizes what you selected:

4. Now, look for a button on the bottom row of the Picasa window that says “Web album“:

5. In the new window that appears, click on “Existing User? Sign in” and then log in using your Google/Gmail user name and password.

6. Now you have options. Since this is your first album, check “Create a new web album“. Then, give your new photo album a meaningful title and a few words of description. You can also enter the location where the pictures were taken if you want. For photo resolution, I recommend the default selection of “Optimized: large size, fast upload“. Check the box that makes them available for public viewing (unless you don’t want anyone to see them, which kind of defeats the purpose of this exercise). Now click OK (you can click on the image below to see it larger).

7. Now you can watch Picasa as it uploads each of your images to the web. This might take a little while, depending on how many pictures are in that folder. You will be able to follow the progress as it happens. When it is finished, you get a nice message that says “Finished”, and there is a button that says “View online” – click that button.

8. Your default web browser (either Firefox or Internet Explorer) will open, and there are all your pictures. From here you can do all kinds of things – add a caption to each one (which you should do), rotate those that need rotating, choose one of them to be the “album cover”, etc. You can also order prints of some or all of them (not free, but cheap).

9. While looking at your online web album, click the link that says “View album“. When that page comes up (showing thumbnail images of all your pictures), make a note of the website address that is showing up in the address bar. That is the link you would email to your friends, so that they can view the pictures online as well. Or, you can just click on the button in the top right area that says “Share album” –

When that is clicked, a form opens and you can just enter the email address of the person with whom you want to share the pictures. You can type your own personalized message and hit Send, and the link is sent to that person (or multiple people).

(If you would like to see what a Picasa photo web page looks like, here is one that my son David created after his recent trip to China.)

I haven’t even scratched the surface of what Picasa can do – that will probably be a future post (Fun Things You Can Do With Picasa). Now go practice putting your pictures on the web!

This week’s video is a series of creative Coke commercials. When guys are watching sports and it’s time to celebrate a big play, they just gotta hug.

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June 16th, 2008

Your statement:
“What if your friend or relative, instead of attaching all those photos to the email, sent you an email that just said, “Click here to see our vacation pictures”. Zero download time, no wasted space, and nothing to delete. Big improvement!”

No matter whether you view the images by downloading them with your e-mail program or using your browser to view them via a web site they have to be transferred to your machine. Granted the download to your browser is slightly more efficient than retrieving them with your e-mail program because of the way e-mail messages are encoded, most users won’t notice any difference.

Scott Johnson
June 16th, 2008

You are correct – anything you see on your screen technically had to be “downloaded” to your computer. But most people would agree that it is easier to look at 25 thumbnail images on a website and click the ones you want to see full size, rather than opening 25 images individually attached to an email.