Word: Reduce large image sizes with picture compressionApril 7, 2011
Update November 2013: Most of this blog post’s contents apply to Word 2007. In Word 2010, picture compression seems to be ‘on’ by default.
Sometimes we have to insert large images (such as photos, maps, and diagrams) into a Word document. Unfortunately, large images can substantially increase your document’s file size.
What you may not realize is that Word automatically resizes a large image to fit within the page margins of your document, no matter how big your image is. You will see it at this smaller size and think it’s fine, but the ORIGINAL image size is actually stored behind the scenes in Word.
Adding one large image to your document is not really an issue. But if your document has lots of images, you can easily end up with a 20 page document that’s more than 50 MB.
So why are large file sizes a problem?
- take longer to transfer to others, either to/from a server over a network, over the internet, or via email. Remember, not everyone works in the same office or has the same access speed as you
- can potentially get corrupted in the file save or file transfer stages
- take longer to open, to navigate, and to save
- take up excess space on a server/computer, in Inboxes etc.
In this blog post, I’ll show you how to reduce the size of large images in Word, without losing the quality of those images or the readability of any text on them. Of course, a better solution is to use a graphics editor to reduce the image size BEFORE you bring it into Word, but this may not be an option that everyone has access to.
I did some testing to show you how the image size can affect the size of the Word document, so let’s start there.
I created two empty Word 2007 documents — by default, an empty Word document is 13 KB in size (see Doc1). I then inserted a 1253 KB photo I took some years ago in Sequoia National Park, California, to Doc2. As you can see from the screen shot below, adding a 1253 KB object to a 13 KB file took the total file size for Doc2 to 1267 KB (approximately the total of the two separate objects).
When I inserted the picture into Doc2, Word automatically resized it to fit nicely within the page margins.
You can check the original file size by right-clicking on the image, then selecting Size (if you don’t see Size listed, select Format Picture instead, then the Size tab).
Here are the details of the photo I inserted into Doc2. You can see that the original size (1 in the screen shot) is some 80 x 60 cm — BIG! — and that it’s been rescaled by Word to some 26% of its original size (2), which equates to dimensions of some 21 x 16 cm (3).
Resize the image using picture compression
- Select the image in the Word document. This will add the Picture Tools > Format tab to the ribbon in Word 2007 and Word 2010 (Word 2003: Right-click on the picture, then select Format Picture > Picture tab).
- Click Compress Pictures (in the Adjust group). (Word 2003: Click Compress on the Picture tab.)
- On the Compress Pictures dialog box, click Options. (Word 2003: This step and the following one are all done on a single Compress Pictures dialog box.)
- Select the options you want to apply. I always select Automatically perform basic compression on save and Print (220 dpi) as the quality because I want the best quality possible.
- Click OK, then click OK again to close the Compress Pictures dialog box.
- Save your document, but don’t close it.
- Now, check that the image size has been reduced by right-clicking on the image again and selecting Size.
- Notice how the scaled and original dimensions are now the same (approx. 21 x 16 cm), and the scaling is 100% (i.e. no resizing). Click Close.
- Finally, check the document’s file size in Explorer. My Doc2 test document has been reduced by approximately 1 MB — it is now only 262 KB, down from 1267 KB.
Note: If your pictures won’t compress no matter what you do (and you’ll know this because the image’s dimensions and the file size doesn’t change at all), your image may have certain color properties, as described in this thread: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office/forum/office_2007-powerpoint/can-not-compress-pictures-in-powerpoint-2007-but/d775b740-2d75-46e8-8e8f-9b1f332a637e?page=2. The solution is to copy the image to the clipboard (Ctrl+C), then go to the Home tab > Paste > Paste Special and select the relevant picture option — e.g. Picture (JPEG) for a photo — then click OK. You should find picture compression now works correctly.
Update: Also check your settings in case you have compression turned off (by default, it is turned on and set to 220 dpi in Word 2010). You can also change the settings for the entire document here too: File > options > Advanced > Image Size and Quality, then select the document you want to set the default picture resolution for and the default output resolution.
[Links last checked April 2011]