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ShrinkPic – help for CMS

Cassie in the snow - original 3.6MB

A single image from a modern camera (5+ mega-pixels) has a file-size equivalent to 50-100 text pages. Not unsurprisingly, therefore, the use of large images can slow your web-pages down to a crawl. Thankfully you don’t need large images to decorate a web page, your photos will be so much larger even than the largest modern displays, that putting them up full-size will normally just be a waste of time…

Right: ShrinkPic automatically reduces image sizes – the default setting has reduced the 3.6MB original to 85kB, which is easily handled by WordPress, where I’ve processed to a 150px square thumbnail. Click image for 800×600 full uploaded file-size.

The problem is then, how do you get the file size down? For a long time we have recommended IrfanView as a free (PC based) image processor, for cropping and re-sizing images for use online. While pretty straightforward, this package does need a little practice to use it effectively, so is not ideal for many people managing CMS systems, for whom the occasional image can be a bit of a nightmare…

Shrink Pic is ideal for anyone who finds image management on the web a nightmare!

Over Christmas we became aware of Shrink Pic, a new system that shrinks photos automatically when you upload them (via LifeHacker). So, is this solution going to work for you?

  • First up, the software only runs on PC’s. We are not aware at present of an equivalent program for Macs or Linux.
  • The basic premise of the software is that it runs in the background, and automatically re-sizes and compresses any image you want to upload to a website (Flickr, your blog, CMS etc.) – or email – before it is sent.
  • You can set your default image sizes or set the amount of compression to fit a file size range (as I did here).
  • Your original image is not changed.

What the software does not do is edit your images. The most recent versions of WordPress will allow you to do a bit more fine tuning after the upload – cropping and creating thumbnails. If you need to process your pictures, then you should look at doing this BEFORE uploading, in which case you might as well resize ready for upload, so you may not need Shrink Pic.

If you are want large images on your website (larger than 1000px in any dimension), then you should look at more advanced processing packages to optimise them.

Conclusion: this software is really easy to use, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it works with WordPress here!

Resource links:

OnTheGoSoft’s Shrink Pic

For free hands-on image processing:

IrfanView