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Reduce Picture Bloat in Word Files

You already know how to remove all pictures from a file in a single click, but what if you need to keep those images in place? Checking visual content is a key editorial task, after all. Or what if the Word file is producing the output so the pictures are required? Many reports and ebooks are designed in Word!

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For more on reducing bloated files, see Sections 42 & 42 of the book or sign up for the Hacks course!

There are at least three ways to pop that ballooning file size while keeping photos in place:

  • Crop photos
  • Shrink photos
  • Compress photos

Or maximize the deflation by doing all three! Learn how, below.

Crop Photos and Delete the Cut Parts!

It’s really handy to be able to uncrop photos, but keeping all that cut data contributes to file bloat. Tell Word to delete the cropped info. Open the Compress Pictures dialog to access this setting as show in the following figures.

Launch the Picture Format ribbon by clicking on a picture in the file. Then click the Compress Picture button to open the dialog.

Select the option to apply the settings to “All pictures in this file” and then click the Picture Quality field to open the menu at right. Selecting the option to “Delete cropped ares of pictures” can also greatly reduce file size.

Shrink Photos

Simply reducing photos to small reference size will greatly cut the size of the file. Click on each image and drag a corner toward the centre of the image then release to set the size.

For editorial processes, reducing to email quality is good enough. For final documents, keep to at least on-screen quality. Access this dialog from the Compress Pictures button shown above.

Compress Photos

Older versions of Word keep every MB of photo data in the file. With today’s hi-res images, that means docx files become unwieldy with just a few images. It’s possible to compress images one at a time, or, open preferences and make the change globally with just a click or two!


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Learn more troubleshooting tips throughout the self-study book.

The latest versions of Word don’t keep all the photo data within the docx file, so reducing the picture quality may not have a dramatic effect on file size. Resizing or deleting cropped parts will provide a greater reduction in file size.

Older versions of Word may not reduce file size when simply resizing images. Try compressing instead.

It’s generally best practice to provide the production department with original images, not pictures embedded in a docx. So keep all image files in a folder!

Got a gnarly Word problem? Submit your problem and we’ll try to answer it in the Q&A thread.

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© This blog and all materials in it are copyright Adrienne Montgomerie on the date of publication. All rights reserved. No portion may be stored or distributed without express written permission. Asking is easy!

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