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Saturday, 6 December 2014

Sharing Some "Techspertise" — Downsizing Photos

MS Windows' Snipping Tool...
(image courtesy microsoft.com
When I conducted the testing for the MyTie Makeover Mini Bag pattern, I asked my testers to send me photos that weren't too large and weren't too small. It ended up being a bit of an unexpected challenge, because apparently some people don't know how to adjust their camera's megapixel settings before they take their shots. So today, I'm going to take a break from sewing and instead share a little bit of my "techspertise".

If you have a fairly late model digital camera, it probably has the capacity to take photos at a much higher megapixel setting than you need. (I just did a quick check online and simple point and shoot cameras are now anywhere from 16MP to 20.1MP.) I found this article at Tomsguide.com that gives a good summary of appropriate MP settings vis-a-vis what you want to do with the photos that you take.

Essentially, if you want to print old fashioned 4x6 inch prints, you can take shots at 2.2MP. If you're sharing on Instagram, it's 0.37MP! Do you see how far off those numbers are from the number stamped on the front of your camera (or in your smartphone manual that you haven't read)? For the record, mine says 10.1... I have it set to take photos at 5MP, which is the second lowest setting.

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So what's wrong with keeping the settings at 16MP, you ask? Data use and storage is the big problem. If you take "big pictures" and send/upload them to the internet on a restricted data plan, it'll cost you. In terms of taking up space on your camera's memory card or on your computer (or cloud storage service), photos taken at 16MP can be 10-15 megabytes in size. That's huge! Another problem is that when you send photos that big in an email attachment, the message may be rejected due to sheer size. (At least Google mail is always a safe bet.)

If you don't want to rummage around in your camera's settings, there is a work-around. You can downsize your photos for web-sharing after the fact. As long as you do this before you hit the internet with any "big" photos, you're golden.

First of all, you need to be a Windows Vista or later user (there is apparently something similar called Grab for Mac OS but I have no further knowledge of it). The utility that will allow you to downsize photos on the fly is actually the snipping tool (in Windows 7, find it under Start | All Programs | Accessories | Snipping Tool). Use it to take a "snapshot" of a photo that you have open on screen (Picasa PhotoViewer is my default for viewing jpgs), save it, and then distribute the file that you save.

The snipping tool allows you to snip around all or part of what you see on your screen...

Just use the mouse and drag around the area that you want to snip. In this case, I chose a small area with the swivel snap hook in the bottom right corner.

Be sure to save your snipped photo if you want to keep it...
but if you just want to drop this into an email or document right now,
it's ready to be pasted (i.e., CTRL-V) .

Click on the Save icon, give it a name and location and you now have a photo of your photo... only this one is waaay smaller in size.

I repeated the experiment with the same photo, only this time I snipped around the entire original photo. The difference in size? My original photograph was 2.21MB; the snipped photo is just under 71KB. (In case you're not sure how significant that is, 2.21MB = 2,210KB; compare 71 to 2,210.) It's now perfect for sending and sharing online.

If you're using Windows 8 (my condolences, by the way), the snipping tool is sort of hidden away. Here's a good article on how to find it.

Finally, this technology is not new or unique. There are other programs that you can buy or find for free that will do the same thing. Personally, I can't live without this tool. I use it all the time to capture things on my screen on a temporary basis. For example, I always capture confirmation details for online transactions so that I have something to fall back on if I never get that "confirmation email".

Was this post useful? If so, I have similar ones planned. And if not, I still have similar ones planned... ;-)


  1. Yes!! This was extremely useful. I'm always asking my girls for help with the snip tool, so I am aware of it, but not yet Fully Enabled on my own. :) I did not know about changing the photo size on the camera--that is something I would like to definitely look up to see if I can do that. I re-size through Microsoft Picture Manager, and I always send re-sized photos when I'm e-mailing them. Our email program doesn't automatically resize on incoming photos, so we get some huge files (seems like they're life-size) that we have to download, save, and then view. II picked up a Google account just to help out with that.

    I'm so glad you use a PC as opposed to Apple because on informative articles like this, I can begin to grasp at understanding and then actually try to apply what I've learned. Thanks! :)


    1. Awesome to hear, Krista, and you're welcome. I know what you mean about "life-size" photos... when I get those through my regular email client (i.e., not web-based), I groan and mutter to myself, I can't even see what the photo is supposed to be! But I really can't blame people, technology is outpacing our ability to learn most of it.

      Thanks for the informative feedback - I am grateful to know that the post helped at least one person. ;-)


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