GUI Bytes

One Picture is Not Worth Ten Thousand Bytes!

images with large filesizes are a waste of time



For those of you who have discovered the wonders of sending pictures along with your e-mail, please have pity on the poor souls that still use dial-up modems. Many of us now have high-speed connections at our office, so pictures and large files donít present much of a problem. But, despite the increasing use of DSL and cable Internet, a lot of people - and companies - still rely on the old-fashioned modem to access the web. According to PC World, about ninety percent of us still use modems.

Plain text e-mail files are generally small; a 5K file will have about a thousand words. A file of this size, equivalent to a couple of pages, takes only seconds to download.

get the picture?

Once you stick an image in the file, though, things can get out of hand. I recently received an e-mail newsletter from a manufacturer that included three images, the total of which was over 700K. This translates to a download time of almost two minutes with a 56.6 modem, twice that on a 28.8 modem. By itself this isnít much, but when you get fifteen or twenty e-mails at a shot, you start looking at an hour just to bring in the mail.

In most cases, simply pasting a picture into an e-mail message needlessly inflates the size of the e-mail. There are two reasons for this.

First, the size of the image is almost always smaller than the original. Simply resizing the picture by dragging a corner doesnít help; it changes only the apparent size of the picture without affecting the file size. Resizing the same picture first in a graphics program reduces the file size at the same time. This has a big effect; cutting the width and length by half reduces the file size to twenty-five percent of the original.

Second, the amount of information in a photograph is thousands of times as much as can be shown in an internet picture. Scanning a photograph can easily produce a file of several megabytes. A graphics program, such as Microsoft PhotoDraw or Adobe PhotoShop, can reduce that to perhaps 10K with no apparent difference when viewed in an e-mail or with a web browser. Even Microsoft Photo Editor can be used, though it is takes a little more work. Another option is to use NetMechanicís GifBot, at

Getting back to the newsletter, I used GifBot and Photo Editor to reduce the three images from over 700K to about 50K. Yet, when viewed side by side, there was little difference between the originals and the reduced images.

© 2001 Sheldon Wolfe, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA, 
on the web at 
June 2001

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Material from CSI Chapter newsletters used with permission.