Q: The photos taken with smartphones take up a lot of memory space. I'd like to reduce the size of my photos from several megabytes to a little less than one megabyte, a size I've found adequate for viewing on a computer, attaching to e-mails or printing 4-by-6-inch photos. But the camera settings on phones don't begin to make images that small. Is there a way to reduce photo size without having to edit each photo?
--Jerry Kiral, Rosemount, Minn.
A: While many readers might wonder why you'd want to diminish photo quality, the truth is that photos taken by newer smartphones can be quite large, typically ranging from 3 to 9 megabytes.
That's great if you're a photo enthusiast, want to make large prints or like to crop pictures to enlarge small details. It's not so good if you plan to e-mail or upload photos on a limited data plan, or if you want to conserve storage space on a phone or computer.
Phone manufacturers sell phones partly by touting high-quality cameras, so they haven't been anxious to help customers lower the quality of photos, which would make photo files smaller. One exception is the iPhone's Mail app, which lets you choose whether to downsize photos that you've attached to an e-mail.
But there are plenty of photo-downsizing apps for Android phones or iPhones that will reduce multi-megabyte images to a megabyte or less. Some of the apps can handle one photo at a time, while others can process photos in batches (which helps if you want to downsize all your saved photos). The limitation of these apps is that they won't change the behavior of your phone's camera; you'll still have to take a large-sized photo and downsize it afterward.
Note that all these photo-downsizing apps work by "compressing" a picture, which means permanently discarding a lot of the data the picture contains. Once you've lowered the quality of a picture, you can never get it back.
For Android phones, you can find downsizing apps by going to the Google Play store and searching for "compress photo." Among the available apps are "Photo Compress & Resize," "Photo & Picture Resizer," and "Video & Image Compressor."
For iPhones, go to the App Store and search for "compress photo." Apps include "ImageResize," "Batch Resize" and "Image Resizr."
If any readers are torn between whether to keep high-quality or low-quality photos, you can have it both ways by keeping two copies of a photo: Store a high-quality original photo on a computer, flash drive or phone memory card. Then reduce the size of the photo on your phone, so that you can use it for e-mailing or uploading to social media websites.