What Is an Easy Way to Embed a JPG in Email?

By Melissa Worcester

Nearly every email client lets you copy and paste a JPG photo or other image right into the body of an email message, as long as the message is in rich text or HTML format, not plain text. Email clients and webmail applications that do not embed copied and pasted images give users another way, such as an "Insert image" button to guide users through inserting a picture.

Email Formats

Email messages can be formatted as plain text or HTML. You can't embed an image in a text email, but you can embed one in an HTML message. An easy way to tell the difference is to check and see if your email program will allow you to change the color or font of the words in the email body. If it will, then the format is HTML. If the email format is plain text, you can change it to HTML or rich text in the message settings. For example, in Windows Live Mail, if formatting options are grayed out in the New Message window, click the "Rich Text (HTML)" button in the Message ribbon. In Gmail, click the "Rich formatting" link above the compose window.

Copy and Paste

The first step to embedding a photo is to copy it. If you have a photo displayed in an email, in a document or on a Web page, you can copy it just like text. Right-click on the photo and choose "Copy." Alternatively, highlight the photo by clicking and dragging the mouse cursor over it and then either press "Ctrl-C" on the keyboard or click "Edit," "Copy." After copying the photo, move to the email message in which you want to embed it. Right-click in the location where you want the photo to appear and choose "Paste," or press "Ctrl-V" on the keyboard, or click "Edit," "Paste."


The ability of most email clients and some webmail apps to accept a copied and pasted image is relatively new. Before users could rely on the system clipboard for image embedding, they could insert an image using a method similar to adding a file attachment -- and they still can. In Gmail, for example, after ensuring the message is in rich text format, click on the icon that looks a bit like two mountains (for the more literal-minded, the icon with two overlapping triangles). Users of the Thunderbird email client can click on the icon representing a dog-eared sheet of paper and then choose "Image" from the resulting drop-down menu.

Attach Instead

An alternative to embedding a photo in the body of an email is to send it as an attachment. If you do this, the recipient will see the email as text and below it see either the image or images you attached or a link to click on to view or save the image.