Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Taming a huge file - Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008

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Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008

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Taming a huge file

QEach year, we send out a Christmas newsletter to our friends. The newsletter is mostly pictures, along with a short poem. This year, we've decided to send the newsletter via e-mail. Unfortunately, Gmail is blocking the message because of its size. We tried to convert the Word document to a PDF file. We have been unsuccessful. Do PDF files not handle pictures? Are there other ways to compress the file?

AWow! Your document must be enormous. Gmail places a 20-megabyte limit on e-mail messages.

I don't want to lecture you. But you should never send e-mail messages this large. They take forever to download. They also clog inboxes.

Fortunately, there are ways to trim down your file size. I'll bet your photos are causing the bloat. So, let's focus on them.

These days, most cameras take 7-megapixel or larger images. That's great if you want to create large, high-quality prints.

Large file sizes

In other respects, high-resolution images are a drawback. Most notably, they result in large file sizes. That makes them inconvenient to share and store.

You probably resized the photos when you put them in the document. Resizing a photo won't affect the file size.

When you resize a photo, the width and height is adjusted. But, the overall number of pixels in the image doesn't change. They're just spread over a larger or smaller area. That means the file size doesn't change.

To change the file size, you need to resample the image. Resampling lets you change the number of pixels in a photo. Resampling an image doesn't change an image's dimensions.

Reduce file sizes for monitors

For quality prints, an image should generally be 200 to 300 dpi (dots per inch). For on-screen viewing, 72 or 96 dpi is sufficient.

I can already hear the shouts of derision! So, let me stop to explain something. Dots per inch is a printing measure. It technically should not be used to refer to on-screen images. Pixels per inch is its corollary for monitors. I am using the two interchangeably here for ease of discourse.

Your photos will be viewed on a monitor. So go with 72 or 96 dpi. You'll need to use a photo-editing program to change your images' dpi.

I recommend IrfanView for resizing and resampling images. This free program provides many options, but is fairly easy to use. You can download it from my site.

Several simple steps

After you install the program, open it. Click File>>Open. Navigate to your first photo, select it and click Open.

You probably don't want to overwrite the new file. So click File>>Save as. Enter a new name for your file and click Save.

Next, click Image>>Resize/Resample. In the box that opens, make sure "Preserve aspect ratio" is checked. Then select "Set new size." Choose inches in the Units section. Then, enter either the new width or the new height. Use the box labeled DPI to set the new dpi. Click OK.

You'll want to do this for every photo you include in your newsletter. Then, replace the old photos in the document with the new ones.

E-mail limits can be tough

This will greatly reduce the file size. Your file size should be less than 2 megabytes. Gmail is quite generous with its e-mail size limit. Other providers are often stingier. It isn't uncommon to see 2MB limits on e-mail messages. You have to plan for the worst.

Now, you mentioned PDF-creation software. It certainly is a good idea to send your newsletter in PDF format. And yes, you can put photographs in PDF files.

With PDF files, you don't need to worry if recipients have Word. Most computers have Adobe Reader installed. If a recipient doesn't have it, it can be downloaded for free.

Also, PDFs retain their formatting across operating systems and machines. You don't need to worry that your carefully formatted document will go askew.

Free PDF creation programs

PDFs can be used to reduce file size. But converting your newsletter to a PDF won't help you much in that respect. That's because of your photos. You need to tackle the photo file sizes before creating your PDF file.

I'm not sure how you tried to create your PDF. So, I'm not sure why you had trouble. Fortunately, you have a number of options. First, you can use Zamzar. I recently featured this handy site in my Cool Site of the Day. The site makes it easy to convert files to different formats, including PDF.

There are also several programs that will help you create PDF files. These programs generally add an option to your printer list. Two free programs on my site are doPDF and PrimoPDF.

If you have Microsoft Word 2007, it will create PDFs for you. Just open your document in Word. Click the Office button and select Save As. Select PDF or XPS. In the box that opens, name your file. Make sure PDF is selected for the file type. Click Publish.

Word 2007 requires an add-in to create PDF files. It may already be installed on your machine. If not, go to my site. It's just one of the great freebies for Office that you'll find!

If you can't get your file down to a manageable size, don't fret. There are other ways to share your file. My short and sweet tip covers three sites that make sharing large files a snap!

Do you have a new e-mail address? Let us know so you don't miss a single issue of our free newsletters. It's easy. Just use our 'Change of Address' form at the Komando Newsletter Center. Click here to access it now.

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Every day, Team Komando produces some of the best content you'll find anywhere on the Internet. Here is a sampling of what's new on our site today!

Video of the Day: Today is Veterans Day. Take time to honor those who have served. This video is a fitting tribute to our armed forces.

Cool Site of the Day: Do you know military veterans? Then wish them a happy Veterans Day. And visit this site for information on the holiday.

Digital Minute, on your radio: Things are changing for broadband users. Unlimited surfing and downloads may become things of the past.

Free Download of the Day: Saving the planet sounds like a lot of work. But this video game makes it fun. You'll also learn about ecology.

Tip on the site: Some people use ReadyBoost to speed up Windows Vista. But you'd best remove it when the computer is in hibernation.

Tomorrow's Tip, in your e-mail: Are Carbonite and GoToMyPC safe?

Kim :)

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