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A Simple Solution For Emailing Large Image Files

Have you ever tried to diagnose a computer problem over the telephone? It’s incredibly frustrating—usually because the person at the other end inevitably doesn’t understand much about computers. You might be surprised just how many people aren’t especially tech savvy. This is particularly problematic for photographers who want to send those people high-resolution digital image files.

As someone who has delivered image files to customers for more than 15 years, I’m no longer surprised by what people find confusing. I’ve had customers request that I email them gigabytes of data, not knowing that email isn’t built for that. I’ve used file transfer services that are foiled by recipients who can’t figure out how those simple services work. When it comes to sending digital image files, I’ve tried it all. And when it goes wrong, I find myself in the middle of one of those frustrating diagnostic phone calls.

To that end, I’m always looking for easy ways to deliver high-resolution files without confusing my customers. And there’s one method that might be the simplest of them all.

For photographers who use Apple computers, that simple solution is found in the Mail email application. It’s called Mail Drop, and it allows you to attach a huge image file as if it were just a few KB. When that file is deemed too large to email (which is determined individually by internet service providers), Apple automatically stores the full-size file in the cloud and includes a download link to retrieve the high-res file. It’s so simple it’s practically impossible to screw up.

To enable Mail Drop, the first step is to ensure you’ve set up an iCloud account. Then it’s just a matter of opening the Preferences in the Mail app, and on the Accounts tab click the checkbox next to “Send Large Attachments with Mail Drop.” Once it’s configured, you can just drag and drop an image file to attach it to the email as you would with a small image file. It won’t look any different in your outbox, but the recipient will receive an email with a placeholder image for reference and a link within the message to download the full-size file directly from iCloud.

The files are stored in the cloud for 30 days, and better still, those files don’t count against iCloud storage limits. Apple gives you up to 1 TB of storage space free of additional charge. The total size of any individual email with attachments can’t exceed 5 GB, and all file types are accepted—from JPEGs to TIFs and all manner of RAW files. Note that folders won’t work unless they’re compressed.

Users of Windows machines may be thinking, “Hey, what about us!” Don’t worry, this works for you, too. Sure, there are plenty of other cloud-based applications for uploading image files and sending download links—including Dropbox, WeTransfer, Google Drive and more. But you can use iCloud too. Yes, Mail Drop works in Mac’s Mail desktop application, as well as the app for iPhones and iPads. But it also works with iCloud in an updated web browser on Macs as well as Windows PCs. Simply navigate to icloud.com to log in and send messages using Mail Drop just as a Mac user would from the Mail app.  

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