I'm not interested in reviewing software, but today I'm making an exception. What's a PITA that photographers deal with every day, sending digital images around the net by email? Yes, resizing images in order to email them as rough proofs or positionals, or just to look at on-screen. Wouldn't it be great if you didn't have to do it?
Granted a lot of people just don't bother. The trouble is you have to open the file in editing software, resize it, sharpen it, save the small version and use that. All that just to send an email with a photo attached. In these broadband days many people don't even realise it's downright inconsiderate to send half a dozen 5MB files to hapless recipients, some of whom may be on dial-up for 2 hours downloading that email via a modem, or using GSM and a laptop or handheld. Screen resolution files can and should be tiny and still look good. They're also less attractive to copyright thieves.
Mac users had better not read any further, because today I discovered a magical solution for PC's running XP or W2000. I had been asked by a client how to resize images for emailing, and wittering on about image editing software and pixels and JPEG compression caused a groan of disbelief. So I went looking and found a piece of free, and somewhat brilliantly simple software called Shrink Pic.
Shrink Pic runs in the background, with just an icon tray reminder of its existence, and it just works. When you carelessly try and email a great big image file, (JPEG, TIFF, BMP, GIF - no RAW or PSD support) it silently creates a small version and attaches that instead.
It definitely works as advertised with Outlook Express (if you must) and Mozilla Thunderbird (which you should), and probably in any other email client.
I've tried breaking it, but it copes fine with 50MB original files. It's fast too, a few seconds processing delay on my dog-slow laptop. The output quality is not at all bad. The image above is a Shrink Pic version from a 55MB TIFF film scan. There's a little grittiness in the sky that isn't there if I spend 5 minutes resampling, applying unsharp masking and fiddling with compression ratios in Photoshop. But for most purposes the ease of use is simply wonderful.
Shrink Pic can be configured by an averagely bright 5 year old, with a choice of 3 preset compressed sizes, plus a custom size for people who understand that much. It even comes with a rolling demo for the below-average 5 year olds and some PR clients. I set 520px*520px as a custom size and it preserves the aspect ratio properly and produces a file of around 40-50KB. It can also be turned off or on via a checkbox, so there is no problem when you really do want to send those hi-res production files to publishers.
Of course you could use it for resizing images for web or MSN use too, but it's email where I see it being incredibly useful and the slight quality loss doesn't matter.