How to send lots of files or folders in an email

When you want to send someone a lot of files in an email, the best way to do it is to compress them into one file first, called an archive or a zip file. When the person receives the zip file they just need to double click it and, hey presto, the exact files that you put into it appear in a folder! Read on to find out how to do it.

Not only does this save space, it can also stop the files getting messed up on the email journey they are about to embark upon. If you compress a folder, the folder and all the files appear when it is ‘unzipped’. This is built into Macintosh OSX. Here is how to do it.

1. Here is the folder we want to zip.


2. Right Click on the folder, and a menu will appear, select Compress (if you have Leopard) or Create Archive (if you have Tiger or older) .


3. It will make a zip file that you can then drag into apple mail or onto a thumbdrive to give to someone else. All you have to do is double click on the zip file it and it will ‘uncompress’ and you will have the original file or folder appear!



Now one thing to be aware if is that there is a limit on most email providers that your email does not go above 10MB. So if you have files that exceed 10 MB, you’ll need to share them via dropbox or idisk.


50 responses to “How to send lots of files or folders in an email”

  1. Kevin

    Yes, I’ve tried this, but it doesn’t really reduce the size of the folder. I had 23mb of photos, then I zipped it, and now have a 23mb zip file.

    Any ideas on how to further compress files or folders, so I can actually email them out without gmail yelling at me?

  2. If the files are already compressed, which jpg photo files are for example, as are mp3 files, then zip can’t really compress them any more! So this really just works for documents and applications. If you wan’t to make the photos smaller you’ll have to do it from iphoto. Click on share, and then email.

  3. Dustin Hines

    Just wanted to say thanks. Your tip worked. You’re a life saver.

  4. Elizabeth Naegele

    Thank you. This helped me finally stop sending GIANT pictures to my friends. I never could figure out how to make the pictures smaller. Thank you so much.

  5. Dagmar

    thats fine , but what to do when having the same problem with a mp3 file which i want to send via email…??
    i have some which are each between 3 -6 mb and i would like to email them in a smaller size… does stuffit help there , and if so , how ?

    1. No you can’t compress an mp3 any smaller really as it’s already compressed. (Same for jpegs and other compressed files.)

  6. julie

    hey ,

    my problem is that i once had to compress 96 pics and make it to a zip file for but the file was , in the end , was still way too big. and i remember that somebody explained a trick to me but i’ve forgotten about it again….. anybody any ideas?

    help is much appreciated!


  7. Ana

    Thank you WAYNE!!! you helped me!!!

  8. mahendra.v.m

    i have 786 mb of jpg format photo.i want to send this photos to another mail id…so i put that folder in zip file n try to send but it didn’n i want to send.can you send me the idea …about how to send

    1. To email you need to break it up into small batches, keep each individual zip file under 10MB.
      Better off getting dropbox or some similar thing and uploading them.

  9. Yanice

    ok, well, under 10MB. is each pictures 1MB each, mening I can only send 10 pics or what?

    1. Yes that’s correct. See the post on using iDisk for how to send larger files.

  10. Hi, We do this all the time. But several times we get a response from the person we’ve sent the folder to that they can’t “open” the zip document. Can some (I’m assuming) PC’s NOT unzip? Or do these people just not know where the file is being downloaded to? If you’re not trying to compress the files any more can you, say, put 5 pdf files in a folder and just attach the folder – and then the problem goes away?

  11. Hi, I have the opposite problem. When I send a picture eg: file size of 3.3Mb, either to myself or to anywhere else, the recipient size is only 36.6 KB. How do I send a file that retains its size? Using Mac OS X version 10.6.8, Mail version 4.5.

  12. Jack

    I have a Mac Book, I don’t have a mouse, how do I right click? thanks

    1. Jack

      I have a Mac OS X and got a mouse as well, I right click on a a music file in order to send it but nothing happens, could you please tell me what do I do wrong? Thanks

    2. charles

      select apple logo in task bar at top, select system preferences and choose mouse pad. You’ll see preferences for options. the mouse adjustments are next to the mouse pad icon.

  13. Thank you.
    Just the information I was looking for to zip picture files for a slideshow for my website for my ebook. Thank you!
    kris :)

  14. David

    1st clear response that I found on the web, and which actually worked. Great work.

  15. crzyc33

    So i was having the exact same issue, i tried to zip file them, I even almost split the pics up in to three separate e-mails, but then i said maybe, just maybe….I highlighted the pics i wanted to send in iPhoto, right clicked, copied them and then just pasted them in the body of the email.

    It sent every last picture. I guess this is a much better way than trying to attach files. All your recipient will have to do is right click and save the photo that they like in the body of the email you have sent!

  16. jane lyon

    when i try to email a zip file, my mac can’t handle the capacity. the file appears to exceed the mgbts. any suggestions?

  17. Phyllis

    I have a lecture saved as an mp3 file that I need to email to several people. It is 42 KB and won’t send. I’ve tried compressing it but nothing seems to work. I have an Macbook version 10.6.8. I have a feeling that it’s compressed as far as it will go. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you!

    1. If it’s 42K it’s way too small to be an audio file. If it’s 42MB it’s too big to email. You’ll need to use idisk or dropbox to share it.

  18. Katy

    This has helped me alot thanks for your advice and help.

  19. Mpho

    I want to compress a 51.2MB folder to attach on an email

    1. You can’t put more than 10MB in one email.

  20. Gerry

    I found a program called Handbrake this helped me when I sent a 63mb film clip
    it seems all the kids use this to put clips on youtube I down loaded off net
    and managed to work it out not to hard,

  21. Claire

    I have been trying to send a 1 page document that is 10mb by email but the company I am sending it to can’t accept it as it needs to be 6mb or less. PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. LA

    Tried this and other tips to zip a couple of documents but dont get the option to zip or compress – does it only work for folders saved on desktop?

    1. Right click (option click) on any folder anywhere and you should get an option to ‘Compress’

  23. kyle

    HI Wayne, Why does a compressed file double in size when its sent by email, as an attachment.

    For example, a compressed file is 4.5 MB, but as an attachment in Mac Mail, its over 9MB?



    1. I think this is because as an email attachment it is not sent as a RAW file but it needs to get converted to ASCII characters (A-Z, 1-9, etc) and this inflates it. This is another reason why the other methods – dropbox, message etc are better.

  24. Hi Wayne,

    Thanks for the article. However I seem to be having the same trouble as some of the other people here – the zipped folder is minimally smaller, not worth it really. I am trying to compress .mov and .mp4 files. Are either of these types of files already compressed? What about PDFs?

    Thanks again,

    1. yes .mov and .mp4 files are already compressed.

      1. Hi, Wayne,
        I am compressing folders of MP4 files. The .zip folders are twice the size of the original folder. I right-clicked, “compressed”, and it came out twice as big. Can you tell me what is going on and why?

      2. If a file is already compressed (e.g. mp4, jpg) zip won’t do anything, but I’m surprised it makes it bigger!

  25. Liz

    I have the opposite problem. No matter that I press send full size photos i photo will only send compressed ones. This happens even when I try to send just one so I don’t think it’s too much. This only started happening a few weeks ago

  26. Jennifer

    I attached a lot of pics from my iphone to email. When I open the email, it allows me to DL them all – it puts them in a zip archive on my computer, but when I double click it – it only opens 1 pictures. What’s going on? Plz help … :)

  27. Judy Schell

    If I am sending on my MAC, and some of the recipients have android, can they unzip? Sometimes my friends aren’t that tech savvy.

    1. Yes it’s easy to unzip on both PC and Linux or Android.

  28. Jane

    I just sent an e-mail with a zip file as an attachment and when I looked at the attachment in the sent e-mail and its contents, it had all of my file folders in the view (left side column) and accessible!!! Where did I go wrong? I told receiver to dump since it has a ‘virus’.

  29. Nancy

    I have scanned about 15 1- page documents into jpeg. They are all located individually in ‘all my files.’ How do I create a folder of those which I could then compress and send in an email? Or is there a simpler way to do it?
    Thanks so much from a non-techy

    1. 15 pages is a lot to send in one email. You will either need to compress them and lose some quality, or send them over a few emails, or put them on a thumb drive. You can merge them together into one document using preview. See here:

  30. RyanB

    Anyone know how to send the zipfiles in the order you want them in. I am compressing multiple Mp3 files and once I compress them, the order is changed. Even when I manually sort them after zipping, when I email the file, the order is changed. I have researched everything, I can’t believe this is still a problem in this digital music era!!! using a Mac

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