The topic of sending attachments by email is not one that is discussed as much as it probably should be. It is easy to attach a file to an email. Almost too easy! Email programs allow you to attach almost anything, regardless of the size and format without giving the sender any sort of guidance as to the consequences of their actions.
And yes, there are consequences.
That Darned Paperclip Icon
Like filling up and shutting down others email accounts and causing subsequent email to bounce. Or using all their data to download your humongous files. That’s not a very nice thing to do, is it? And to think with just a bit of thoughtfulness you can avoid aggravating those you send to. With the benefit of setting an example of proper technology use!
Most that forward attachments or large photos are doing so with good intentions. They are not purposefully out to cause any problems for the other side. That said, you have to take a moment and think before attaching files to an email and clicking Send.
To simply attach files without taking the time to consider the person on the other side is self-serving. Not to mention it reflects on your overall lack of tech savvy.
Before You Attach Anything
Here are some quickies you should run through before you arbitrarily attach any file to an email and send it on its way:
What is the file’s size? Don’t know? Find out. If you don’t know how to find out, learn. For example in Windows, you can view the file’s size in Windows Explorer. Make sure the Views option at the top right is set to Details. This will allow you to see a Size column reflecting each file’s size. On a Mac, hold down the Control key, then choose File > Get Summary Info.
When sending a file over 500,000 (500KB) in size consider how you can minimize the file’s size either by reducing the physical dimensions for images or by using file compression software. And, even then, courtesy dictates you ask the recipient first if it is okay to send them an attachment. What is the best time of day to do so to ensure they are available to download your file and keep their email flowing.
Never send attachments without warning especially after business hours or on weekends when the recipient may not be there to clear out their inbox.
Avoid sending files over 1M (that’s 1,000,000 bytes!). Think of the data usage required to download! Not everyone is on unlimited plans. Just because you can physically instruct a computer to attach a file of that size doesn’t mean you should. You could also instruct your computer to reformat/erase your hard drive but you don’t do you? I use and recommend DropBox (<= AFFLink). If you are sending lots of large attachments this is the way to go.
Verify the File Format
Files should only be sent in a format that you know the other side has the appropriate software to view. How doyou know? Because you asked first! For example, not everyone has MS Publisher, Excel or PowerPoint. If the other side does not have Excel and you send an Excel file to them, they most likely will not be able to open it.
When it comes to graphics and photos, just assume the files are gargantuan. Whether the files are for business or personal matters, here again you need to compress either the file’s size with one of the many compression utilities available or reduce the physical dimensions of the graphic or photo.
Learn how to resample/resize the graphic to no larger than 1600 pixels in width/height. 1600 pixels is large enough for the majority of uses – especially if you are just sharing photos with friends or family. For use on your website, they need not be larger than this either. Photos thousands of pixels wide easily get up into the 2-4M range! Yikes!!
To send an attachment without notice that someone didn’t ask for is the epitome of lack of courtesy for those you are emailing. No matter how important you think that attachment is – you need to consider the above issues. Don’t attach that file without first knowing its size, format and notifying the person on the other side that it is on its way.
Just a little common courtesy can go a long way to you being perceived as a person who is a pleasure to communicate with and who also understands the technology in which they are participating.