When sending email attachments, etiquette and convention often dictate that you compress the attachment when sending large files or a lot of files. But when you're only sending a few small files, do the recipient a favour: Skip the ZIP.
The other day I received an email attachment containing two extremely small image files in a ZIP, and — embarrassingly — got a little annoyed that I had to go through a multi-step process to see the tiny files. (Download the ZIP, find it on my hard drive, unzip it, then go into the folder to view the images.)
The fact is, most email clients (like Gmail) have handy links to view many different attachment types without downloading anything at all, and it's especially good with images — its "View all images" link is great. What's more, if you want to download all of the attachments in one fell swoop, you can click the "Download all attachments" link, which will produce a ZIP file of all the attached files. But a lot of the time attachments these days are ephemera, anyway — files you need to see briefly, but often don't have to download to your hard drive to save.
Furthermore, a lot of us are accessing email on-the-go from our mobile phones, and ZIPs are, unfortunately, not generally supported.
That's why we'd suggest that, if you're sending a few small files, most of the time you're going to make life easier on your recipient by skipping the ZIP compression altogether. Here's a pretty simple rule of thumb I live by:
- Don't ZIP attachments unless you're sending more than three to five files and they're over 1MB each.
Of course, like any rule of thumb, this one's subject to tweaking to your own preferences and to exceptions. To be honest, I rarely ZIP single-file attachments no matter how large they are (as long as they fit beneath Gmail's 25MB limit). There may be instances when compressing your files is still useful — say you're on an excruciatingly slow internet connection, for example, and every bit of compression helps. But overall, our internet pipes are large, our email clients are smart, and adding to the workflow required to access attachments by compressing them isn't necessary.
Agree? Wholeheartedly disagree? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments.