How Do I Reduce the Size of a Photo File?

By David Weedmark

When it comes to digital image files, bigger isn't always better. High-resolution images can be cumbersome to work with, particularly when sharing with others on social media or as email attachments. Microsoft Office apps, like Word and PowerPoint, can quickly reduce an image to a size that is easier to handle. Microsoft Paint, which comes with every Windows computer, can also resize images.

Reducing Images in Word

Step 1

Locate an image file on your computer that you want to resize. To verify its image size, right click the file in File Explorer and select "Properties." The image size is displayed under the General tab. To see its dimensions, click the "Details" tab. Its width and height are displayed in pixels, while its resolution is displayed in dots per inch, or dpi.

Step 2

Launch Word and create a new blank document. Click the "Insert" tab and select "Picture." In the navigation window that opens, locate your image and click the "Insert" button.

Step 3

Select the picture in the Word document and then click the Picture Tools "Format" tab. Click the "Compress Pictures" icon in the Adjust section of the Ribbon.

Step 4

Select a new resolution for the picture from the available options. These resolutions are listed in pixels per inch, or ppi, which is essentially the same as dpi. Microsoft recommends different resolutions depending on if you are printing, emailing or displaying the image on a screen, however you're free to select any resolution that suits you: 220, 150 or 96 dpi. By default, the document resolution option is set to 220 ppi. Note that you can't use Word to increase a picture's resolution. Any resolutions higher than the picture's current resolution are grayed out.

Step 5

Right-click the image and select "Save as Picture." Select a location in the navigation window that opens and give the file a unique name. The saved file maintains the new resolution you gave it. Cropping or resizing the image in Word has no effect on an image if you have saved it as a new file.

Step 6

Close Word and locate the new file in File Explorer. Right-click the file and select "Properties." The new file size is displayed under the General tab, and the new resolution and dimensions are displayed under the Details tab.

Reducing Images in Paint

Step 1

Open the image you want to reduce in Microsoft Paint. Note that the image dimensions and the size of the file are displayed at the bottom of the window. Click the "Resize and Skew" icon in the Image section of the Ribbon. Alternatively, just press "Ctrl-W."

Step 2

Click the "Pixels" option to select a new size for the image in pixels. To resize the image by a percentage, click the "Percent" option. Enter the horizontal or vertical size you want. When you change either the horizontal or vertical size, the other size changes automatically, provided that the Maintain Aspect Ratio is checked, which is the default.

Step 3

Click the "File" menu and select "Save As" to save the image with a new file name. Note that the dimensions and file size at the bottom of the Paint window have changed to reflect the change you made.

Tips & Warnings

  • To change the default document resolution in Word, click the "File" menu, select "Options" and then "Advanced." Scroll down to the Image Size and Quality section and then change the default target output. Options are limited to 220, 150 and 96 ppi.
  • There are many online resources for reducing image files, including Image Optimizer, Picresize or Shrink Pictures. With each of these websites, simply upload your image file, select the resolution you want and download the resized image.
  • Consider creating a copy of your original image before resizing it. Reducing a photo file's size destroys much of the information in the photo -- like fine details and colors. These lost details may not be noticeable when viewing a photo in a Web browser, but may be noticeable when you zoom in to the photo or try to increase the file size again.