First of all, this is a homework question for my photography class. But I have not been able to find the answer anywhere in any of my class materials or through googling. I don't mind doing more research to find the answer if I can just get pointed in the right direction.

The question is

To e-mail a photo, how many pixels should the longest side have if it is only to be viewed on screen?

Does any one have any idea?



To understand this, you should consider the screen itself. The screen display has pixels, so I would think about and research how many pixels are in a screen.

  • Thanks. The possible answers are 72, 700, 2000, and 4800. Given 800x600 is a popular screen size, I am guessing it is 700. – jlars62 Jan 18 '16 at 4:25
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    @jlars62 it's a pretty silly question. If it were me I'd send a fairly low compression 2000px(long side) image because people are dumb and print off images that you email them no matter the quality. I don't know off hand but 800x600 might have died in favor of 1024x768 these days or even higher. Either way, based in the question and available options id choose 700 as well if I had to. Then I'd argue with the teacher lol. – dpollitt Jan 18 '16 at 4:29
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    Another reason that this is a terrible question is that modern operating systems and software scale images. Just because a user has a display resolution of 1920x1080 doesn't mean that if you send them an image with a resolution of 2500x2500 that they will have trouble viewing it by any means. If the homework question allows for an explanation than that is one thing, if its multiple choice, its a bad question. – dpollitt Jan 18 '16 at 13:59

There is no right answer. It's up to you how you compromise, considering the following:

  • 3840x2160 is the highest resolution for consumer displays. This is known as 4K Ultra-HD and is not widely adopted yet. If you are sending a landscape image at 3840 pixels wide or a portrait one at 2160 tall, nearly every one will be able to see full details that their screen can show. Since this is roughly 8 MP, sending an image of this size is the heaviest. Compressed slightly it should take 2 to 4 megabytes which most - if not all - modern email servers can handle.
  • Consider 1366x768 to be a minimum. Looking at statistics gather last year from W3Schools, this was the most common resolution, used by 33% of people. 1920x1080 was used by 16%, while other high resolutions 32.7%. Other sources of statistics quote similar numbers. Note that this is the size of the entire screen. If you want to minimize the size of your email attachments, then use 1366 on the longest side for landscape and 768 for portrait.
  • 1920x1080 is a safe resolution to ensure that most people will be able to see an image which is not blurred by interpolation. It is less heavy than 4K but the majority of displays have that or lower resolution. This is also a very common resolution for tablets and phones which many people use to read emails now. Ironically, as I am writing this, I realize that this does not apply to any of my displays since I have a 2560x1600 and a 3840x2160 display on my computer and a 2560x1440 on my laptop :)

There is no rule.

Consider however also the potential of further sharing. If you don't want your photo to be printed on paper with acceptable quality, you should limit the resolution also for that reason.

For example, I found that a 10x15 cm photo out of a 1000x1500 pixel photo looks quite nice. If the photo you are sending is valuable, do not go beyond that.

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