How to Properly Email Photos in iOS 7

A good part of our lives online these days is about sharing highlights of our lives online. Photo sharing and emailing is no exception. iOS 7 provides a few techniques with several options for sharing images.

Perhaps the most common way to share your marvelous magic moments is via email directly from your iOS device. When doing so, choices often need to be made with respect to image size. In this article, I cover the two ways to email images. You can initiate the emailing of images from the Photos app – that is, selecting the images first, then having them dispatched via the Mail app. Alternatively, you can create a new message first, then attach one or more images to it.

A Word or Two Regarding Image Resolution

The 8-megapixel (MP) rear-facing iSight camera was introduced with iPhone 4s. While there have been several key advancements in iPhone’s imaging technology up through the current 5c and 5s models, the megapixel count has remained unchanged. As I mentioned in a previous article here on TMO, How to Know If the iPhone 5s Camera Upgrade is Right For You, the megapixel count a camera offers is not the sole determinant of it’s image capturing capabilities.

A picture of a typical image sensor.

The typical image sensor consists of millions of light sensitive photo-sites.

When you tap the iPhone’s shutter release button, its image sensor captures the light coming through the camera lens housing. This 8-megapixel sensor accommodates about eight million microscopic light-collecting “photo sites” generally corresponding to pixels (“picture elements”). These pixels are processed by iOS and other software, resulting in a digital image.

Image Dimensions – The dimensions of the images created by iPhone’s sensor are measured in pixels. On iPhone 4s, 5, 5c and 5s, the maximum image size is 3264 pixels wide × 2448 pixels high, or a 4:3 aspect ratio. When multiplying these dimensions together, you end up with an image containing 7,990,272 pixels – close enough to the camera’s touted 8-megapixels.

In case you’re wondering, the front-facing FaceTime camera is rated at 1.2 megapixels (1280 x 960 pixels).

Given that the iSight camera’s “3264 x 2448 pixels” measurement represents the maximum image dimensions you get with your iPhone, this size is officially referred to as the image’s Actual Size when the time comes to consider image resolution and how to properly configure the photo for emailing.

As with any typical image editing software on personal computers – such as iPhoto on the Mac – images can be resized within iOS software, including the Mail app, in order to address particular requirements relating to proper image sharing. For example, when emailing photos or when posting images to a web-based photo album for casual viewing, sending the full-size version of an image can be problematic. Besides, for viewing images online or embedded in emails, there are no advantages to sending them at maximum resolution. The only exception is when submitting images for printing. Relative to photo printers, computer displays are low-resolution devices.

For typical browsers and email clients opened on laptops or desktop displays, an image should ideally be anywhere from 600 to 1000 pixels on its longest side. This will allow it to fit comfortably on-screen – in a browser window or email message – without the viewer having to scroll around to see the image in its entirety.

Image File Size – The higher an image’s pixel count, the more data there is, the larger the file size becomes. iPhone images are saved at the sensor’s maximum resolution, by pixel dimensions. All image files are compressed and saved as JPEG (.JPG) files by iPhone’s software. The compression and file size can vary according to how much detail is present in the image, but these 8-megapixel images can take up anywhere from about 1.5 MB to 4 MB of storage space. If mailing in Actual Size, there may be technical issues attaching these large images, especially if you attempt to attach multiple images. Additionally, mail service providers often impose restrictions on file attachment sizes.

As mentioned previously, Actual Size images are indeed needed for best results when printing, as the maximum number of pixels are required in order to ensure nice large prints at good resolution.

For example, I have been able to print excellent high-resolution 16 x 20-inch iPhone photographs without any additional processing. If you need to send a number of high-res images to others for  eventual printing, you should consider other means of file transferring. The Dropbox service is a perfect example.

OK, with all the technical mumbo-jumbo behind us, let’s get to work, and learn more about properly emailing photos in iOS 7.

When using the stock iOS apps, you can email images on your iOS device in two ways:

  • From the Photos app while viewing your images
  • From the Mail app while composing a message

Emailing a Single Image from the Photos App

As you view your images individually while in the Photos app, you can email the currently viewed image by tapping on the sharing icon found on the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. This icon generally has a similar appearance in most apps – a box with an arrow exiting from the top.

Three iOS7 screens from the Photos and Mail apps on an iPhone 5s.

Once you select an image to email, it’s just two taps, and you’re done.

You will be presented with a panel full of sharing options. By tapping the Mail icon, you open a new Mail message with the image already pre-attached. All you need to do is address the message and include a Subject as well as the text message, if needed.

A pop-up menu asks you to decide on the size the attached image should be.

You have a few choices regarding image size. Medium is a great choice for emailing iPhone photos.

When ready, tap Send. If you are sending an image that was captured with your device, you will be shown a list of image dimensions to choose from. This is where you decide what’s appropriate to set your image to prior to sending.

For reference, the 8-Megapixel cameras on our iPhones (4s and later) produce the following image dimensions:

Actual Size: 3264 x 2448 pixels

Large: 1632 x 1224 pixels

Medium: 640 x 480 pixels

Small: 320 x 240 pixels

When emailing photos, while I occasionally select the Small size, I almost always use Medium, never larger.

For web-based photo viewing services, like, I like to keep the absolute maximum image dimensions to 1000 pixels on the longest side. So, if posting directly  to Flickr from my iPhone via the Mail app, I will select the Medium as well, as it’s closest to my 1000 pixel target.

These are all settings that work best for me. For your purposes, feel free to use these as starting guidelines for your own image workflows.

Emailing Multiple Images from the Photos App

As you are perusing your images in the Photos app, you can select a set of multiple images to attach to an email message. Here’s how:

When looking through all your thumbnails in your Camera Roll, Photo Stream, or Albums, simply tap on the Select button on the top menu bar. You can then select the photos to email by tapping on the desired ones. You will see a blue badge with a checkmark appear on the selected images.

The image selection panel in the iOS Photos app.

Select all the images you wish to include in a new email.

When finished selecting images, tap on the Sharing icon.

Finally, on the next screen, select the Mail icon. Once again, a new Message is created for you with your selected images attached. Complete your email, and tap Send. As before, make your image size selection if and when prompted. This will be applied to each image in the email… then off it goes.

Attaching Images From Within the Mail App

If you decide that, while composing a text-only email message, you wish to attach one or more photos, you can do so easily. Simply tap anywhere within the message body to bring up a black pop-up selection bar.

The menu bar that appears when tapping on the message body. Used for selecting photos to include in email.

You can easily attach one or more photos or videos to an email while composing the message.

If you’re on an iPhone, tap on the right-facing arrow in the bar, indicating the presence of additional options. Then tap on Insert Photo or Video. You are then momentarily taken to the Photos app so that you can make your selection. Once you make your selection, your new image is added to the email message. Repeat the process if you need to include additional images.

Once again, when actually getting around to sending the email, you may be asked to select the image size. The size you select will be applied to all the attached images if they are larger than the selected dimensions. The file sizes shown in parentheses reflect the total file size for the email, including the attached images.

Third-party photo editing apps will often feature their own internal mechanisms for sharing photos through various services, so be sure to look for those.


I don’t send photos via the Messages app much, but I’ve been wondering how it handles image sizes. I’ve been experimenting with sending images via the iMessage service, and was actually amazed at my results.

I discovered that images are dispatched via iMessage at Actual Size with no choices offered, as we’ve seen when emailing photos. However, if restricting to the cellular carrier’s MMS service, the image size for the images I tested were reduced to about 40% of the Actual Size and additional compression is applied.

Upon further reflection, this makes sense. When using the iMessage service, you are utilizing Apple’s messaging service, not your carrier’s. When using standard cellular MMS messaging, there are limits imposed as to how much data can be sent per message. Hence, the image size and file size reduction.

Finally, I’ve been noticing a few podcasters complaining that images sent via the Photo Stream are somehow automatically reduced in size. I’ve been trying to verify these claims, and I find no evidence of this at all. In my own tests, for images captured on my iPhone, an Actual Size copy of the original, with no added compression, is injected into my Photo Stream. Why are they so adamant about this? I need to play around with this a bit more.

Do yourself and your image viewers a favor, familiarize yourself with the salient aspects of image resolution. It becomes particularly important when doing any kind of image file transfers and sharing – including emailing – as well as when printing the highest quality images you can get from your iOS device.