Don’t send pictures by email!

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Scott –

You’ve piqued my interest with this sentence that you sneaked into a recent podcast: 

“Really, sending pictures by email is a bad idea to start with, but that’s a story for another day.” 

How about making that day next week’s podcast?  I want to know what you recommend.  Photos are a problem I constantly struggle with – both sending and receiving.

Keep up the good work.  Cheers, Terry

attach photos


You shouldn’t send photos as email attachments. Especially if you have a lot of photos you want to send. Here are a few reasons why not:

It’s inconvenient for you.
If you have several pictures on your computer, and you want them to also be on someone else’s computer for viewing, it’s not a simple one-click process. Especially if the pictures are in different folders on your computer. You either have to send all of them at once (which might be too big), or you have to send one or two at a time, in several separate emails. And your email program (such as Outlook) is slowed down while it sends all those pictures out. Pain in the butt.

It’s inconvenient for the recipient.
After you’ve gone through the whole process on your end of attaching all those pictures, now your recipient has to go through the process of receiving them. The same slowdown your Outlook had when you were sending them, the recipient’s Outlook also slows down as it brings in all those emails with attachments. This is less of an issue with high-speed internet, but I remember a while back I would just have to walk away for a while all those pictures downloaded.

They might not get sent.
Aside from all inconvenience on both ends, you have to also consider the actual rules of your email provider. For most of the web-based email, there’s a limit on the size of attachments. Most of them run 10 mb to 25 mb. If you have a few high-res photos, that won’t work. I believe Google raised their limit to 50 mb, but that’s still pretty limiting. Which means you are forced to split up the files and send several emails.

They might not get opened.
Here’s my policy on email attachments: I don’t open them. What if I get an email from someone I know, and it has an attachment? I don’t open it. What if my own mother sends me an email, with an attachment? I don’t open it.

Email attachments are still one of the best ways of spreading a virus, only because people are so easily tricked into clicking to open them. You might get an email from Fedex saying they are having trouble delivering your package, and the invoice is attached. Even if you are actually expecting a package by Fedex, that email did not come from Fedex and the attachment is actually a virus.

The only exception I make to opening an attachment is if the person sending it to me tells me ahead of time what it is and that they have sent it. This information cannot be in the email itself – it has to be knowledge or information I have gotten separate from the email (such as by a phone call or by speaking to that sender in person). That’s the only way you can know for sure what an attachment is, and that it’s safe to open.

Imagine mailing a full-size brick by sticking it in a padded envelope. It’s a pain for you to send it, a pain for the recipient to receive it, and it most likely won’t make the trip. That’s how inefficient it is to send a set of photos by email.

So how DO you get a picture (or group of pictures) from your computer to another person?

The basic process is this: you upload the pictures to the “cloud”, then get a link you can share for those pictures you just uploaded, and you send an email that includes that link.

That sounds a lot more complicated than it is.

If you saw last week’s blog post, that was when I showed you how easy it is to automatically backup the photos on your phone (and on your computer) using Google Photos. Google Photos is an example of cloud storage (“cloud” just means some other computer than yours – your pictures are on Google’s computers).

When you go to, there are all of your pictures, available for viewing. You just need to choose which ones you want to send, and get a link to just those pictures.

Here’s an example. In my Google Photos, here are a couple of pics of my little Fenway. These were taken shortly after he came back from having some dental work done, so he was still a little sedated. Anyway, let’s say I want to send these two pictures to someone:

Google Photos


When you move your mouse over a picture there, you’ll see a little checkmark appear in the top left corner. Click that for each picture you want to send. You’ll see how many you’ve selected:

Google photos


Now go up to the top of the window and click on the “Share” button:

Google photos share


In the new window, in the options at the bottom, click on “Get Link”:

share link


Next window will display the link – that’s what you want to include in your email. But you don’t even have to highlight it – just click the word “COPY”:

share link


Now go to your new email and in the body of the email, do a right click and choose “Paste”. That places that special link right in your message. All you need to do is address the email to your recipient, put in a subject line, and maybe add some text to the message so that person knows what you’re sending.

And when your recipient clicks on that link in your email, what will be displayed is your Google Photos page – but only those two pictures:

google photos link


Of course, if you wanted to, you could just as easily have put a checkmark on 10 pictures, or 50 pictures. No matter how many pictures you want to show him, you still only need to send the one link that gets generated.

At that point he can just look at the pictures, or he can download them and save them to his computer if he wants to. Or he can share them with other people. And he never had to open an email attachment.

What do you think of this? Let me know in the comments.

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February 5th, 2018

Ohmigosh, thank you Scott; this is another great piece of information!!

Marge Teilhaber
February 6th, 2018

Excellent tutorial, Scott. On my PC, I use Picasa (and don’t know what I’d do without) to edit my photos and then synch my albums with the web. I finally learned how, in Google Photos, to make the albums shareable. Took me a while to figure out how to stop “the link doesn’t work” messages from people.

I have several people who ask for photos to be emailed after they get the link. As we know, many people are clueless. I tell them to download it from the album. Their eyes glaze over. So I send them. And then send them a link to your newsletter lol!!