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E-mailing docs, photos requires tweaking

Write a note, whisper a secret, throw a kiss — so many ways to communicate. With computers, there are just as many ways to convey information. The most common method is e-mail, something almost all of us have mastered by now.

But how do you send a photo, newspaper article, or a document without licking a stamp? Attaching files of scanned or saved documents or simply “cutting and pasting” into the body of an e-mail are simple ways to send extras with your notes.

Printers with scanning capabilities make it easy to change a document or newspaper clipping into a computer file. The scanner should be connected by cable to your computer. Setup of the scanner includes installation of its driver software, which is done automatically or by CD. The manufacturer’s Web site is also available for drivers and support.

To create a file from a scanned item, place the document on the flat bed of the scanner, or feed it into the scanner’s document intake. Since there are many makers and many models of scanners, consult the instructions that came with your scanner. Most times, a small lighted instruction area on the scanner, or a window that pops up on the computer screen will walk you through the scanning process. Determine the name of the file to be saved, its storage location, and select the type of file best suited to your purposes.

Name the file so you can find it easily later. Do not include symbols or punctuation in the file name. By selecting the storage location, the computer is told where and how to save the data. Options for storage locations include disc, external drive, USB flash drive or the C: drive which is the main hard drive. When storing to the main hard drive, there is a “tree” of directories, files and documents that can be organized to your liking.

Choosing the type of file is a very important step. The file name’s extension (.doc, .jpeg, .bmp) indicates the type of file and determines how it can be viewed, sent and received. Vista does not show the extension by default, but describes the type of file more fully. Some types of files are used for photos and graphics, some for documents of various types, others for video files, etc. Software such as Open Office or Adobe Reader may need to be installed on the computer in order for the file to be viewed. The most commonly used types of files are: .doc (word processing document), .xls (spreadsheet), .pdf, .bmp, .jpeg (photo or graphic) and .mp3 (music).

When photos are saved, the size of the picture can vary. Use care not to send a photo that only shows your subjects’ left eye on the screen when the receiver tries to view it. Resizing photos, zipping photos or cropping photos not only allows for easier viewing but will decrease the size of the file. This means the recipient will spend more time viewing the pictures and less time downloading them.

Another way to send data is in the body of the e-mail. Photos, documents, Web site links, graphics and more can be cut and pasted into the e-mail, just as you would in a document. Once the desired information is highlighted, point at the highlighted area then right click to find the cut, copy and paste options.

Patty Harshbarger, the owner of Computer Renaissance in Bradenton, can be reached at (941)753-8277 or