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Keep Attachments Small

A few years ago, still with a dial-up connection, I received a newsletter. The person had gone to great trouble to set the document up beautifully, arranging text in columns with eye-catching headings and including lots of bright pictures.

I imagine that the newsletter was written in one of the latest and greatest versions of Microsoft Word. I didn't see the document as the author intended, because I use, by choice, an earlier version of Word, which has fewer bells and whistles, gets the job done, and makes smaller documents.

The document took more than five minutes to download. It was 2.2 megabytes in size. I had to wait. My other emails were unavailable until it had finished downloading. My version of Word refused to open it. My copy of Open Office—a free program with many advantages—did open the document and I was able to read the text and see the pictures, but the layout was nothing like the original.

There's a lesson in this: smaller and older is sometimes better.

Old die-hards such as I am are not going to buy and install programs just because “Everybody's doing it”. Documents written in older versions can be displayed by newer versions, but the opposite is not so certain. So always consider what equipment and software the person to whom you're sending might have. There are people in remote and rural areas who still have slow, dialup connections. Big emails can be a real hassle for them.

Many programs like Word have an alternative "Save": an earlier version of the same program, or Rich Text Format. You could also make do without the word processor altogether and write an html document. That'd be a fraction of the size!

If you know your recipient and you're exchanging big documents, knowing what software each person has, that's fine, but when you're sending information to lots of people, please slow down and consider.

Please read also the article about sending photographs by email.



Questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you. My email address is here.

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