Q&A: Why are my photos distorted?

Q Why, when I attach photos to emails, do they come out squashed flat, or tall and skinny?

A This is a longstanding problem with certain versions of Mail, which likes to embed images directly into messages, given half a chance.

Mail should work best with images from your Photos or iPhoto Library, but you may need to export then open them in an image editor to check that they are set to 72 dpi resolution in both axes. When you place the image, select it and set the popup menu at the upper right to read ‘Image size: Actual size’.

To avoid substitution with low-res or distorted images, keep Mail's settings for embedded images to Actual Size.
To avoid substitution with low-res or distorted images, keep Mail’s settings for embedded images to Actual Size.

If they still get munged, compress them using Zip and enclose that as a file, to stop Mail from messing with them.

Comments Although it is a lovely idea to embed images directly into messages, and for the recipient to see them inline, Mail has suffered a series of bugs which have conspired to rot this up. Typical problems include low resolution images being sent instead of the originals, and this type of distortion.

The fallback is a sad admission that, when this feature is broken, you must conceal the image(s) from the app, and requires the recipient to decompress and view them separately, but it is very robust in the face of apps which overreach themselves.

Updated from the original, which was first published in MacUser volume 30 issue 06, 2014.