Q.We enjoy sending pictures to grandparents, but we have lost our auto compression feature in Outlook. How do you turn back on the auto compress feature? — Larry
A. Sending pictures via email has become much more complicated for a variety of reasons, and taking a different approach may be a better solution.
Microsoft’s Outlook and Outlook Express e-mail programs do not have any built-in compression features, so you likely had what is know as a “plug-in” installed at some point in the past.
If you don’t remember ever installing such an addon, there are a number of companies that have written low-cost and even free plug-ins for the Microsoft e-mail clients (search Google for “image compression for Outlook”), or you can use my favorite image management tool “Picasa.” Picasa will work directly with most popular e-mail programs and is a free download from Google (http://picasa.google. com).
But before you decide to keep sending images via e-mail, there are a few other things to consider.
Digital cameras today have very large “mega pixel” ratings, which means that each picture you take is much larger than they were several years ago.
Even compressed, you will be limited to how many images you can attach to minimize the chances of the receiving party’s mail server rejecting your message because the combined size of the attachments may be too large.
Spam filters and security software installed in the recipient’s machine can also cause the message to be undeliverable, so using Webbased image-sharing sites may make more sense for you and your recipients.
By uploading your images to a private (but shareable) location, you will only need to deal with compressing each image one time, no matter how many people you want to share the pictures (and it’s an automatic feature of the upload process).
Once you have uploaded your images, you simply send a text message with a link to invite friends and family to view, download or print the images.
Over time you can build up shareable albums, and a great offshoot of using these services is that you automatically have created a backup of your precious pictures.
Once your images are uploaded, you can make movies, slide shows, DVDs, collages, coffee table books or a number of other products right from the site to share with others.
If you are more interested in sharing your images with the whole world, sites like www.fotki.com and www.flickr.com take the “social networking” approach (a la MySpace.com) so that you can interface and share with lots of random Internet users.
If you are a travel junkie and want to share with other travel junkies, check out www.worldisround.com.
If you are more than just a casual photographer, there are many sites geared toward advanced users that will allow much higher resolution images to be posted and downloaded like www.smugmug.com, www.pixagogo.com and www.funtigo. com.
If you think that your pictures are desirable enough that others will buy them, you can try selling your images at www.dotphotopro.com.