The Best of the Tech Helpline: Photos Taking Up Too Much Space?

 September 07, 2017

When you see a warning that your storage is 90 percent full, you might begin to panic. And you probably know exactly the cause of your problem: photos. For most real estate professionals, photos and videos have become both a blessing and a curse: They are a blessing because powerful visuals help sell homes, but they are also a curse because they are data hogs.

There are ways you can use less space on your device without losing all the luster of your great photos. Let’s take a look at some options to reduce the amount of space your images are taking up on your phone and laptop.

Take advantage of cloud storage: Many companies, Apple and Microsoft included, have turned to the Cloud to solve the photo storage problem by offering automated programs to store photos online. These programs will remove photos from your phone and immediately free up space. Apple iCloud offers 5G of storage for free; after that, Apple charges 99 cents per month for 50GB. Google has a free and unlimited model with Google Photos plus its recently launched “backup and sync” service, which allows you to save videos and graphics as well. One other catch: Google limits video resolution to 1080p and photos to 16 megapixels, but for agents today, that should still suffice. Other cloud services are also available, such as Amazon Cloud Drive, OneDrive, Flickr and others. Be sure to research the features and limitations of these Cloud storage options before deciding which one is best for you.

Use compression software: If you’re like many agents, you likely transfer your photos to your laptop or desktop. The first thing you should do after is compress the photos. There are exceptions to this rule: if you are creating a high-end printed brochure or magazine ad, or if you are sending an image for a billboard, you will need to provide the highest resolution original photo. But if you want to keep high-quality photos on any screen size, even those with the higher resolution displays, some terrific software programs and online tools are available that can shrink the file size without significantly compromising the display quality of your images. These options run the gamut — from really easy compression software that magically does everything with one touch of a button, to software that allows each image to be individually fine-tuned. A great online choice to check out for Mac or PC users who are looking for simplicity is, which allows you to preview your compressed image to the original image. For those who want the top-shelf product and the ability to tweak settings, it’s hard to beat the JPEG Compressor program. Mac users will love Compress in the App Store for its simplicity and low loss of image quality, along with both batch processing and instant side-by-side image preview.

Check your smartphone default settings: Sometimes, smartphones try too hard when it comes to camera settings; the phones overcompensate and take pictures that are only going to be beneficial if used in a 4K video or on a billboard. For example, iPhone users should “nix” the live photo setting, which is available in the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, SE, or 9.7-inch iPad Pro. By default, the iPhone creates “live” photos, which are 1.5 seconds of video, the photo and 1.5 more seconds of video. So in Harry Potter-like fashion, your photo comes to life. While this is a cool effect, it takes up a ton of space. This option is easy to turn off instantly for any photo. While ready to take a photo, you’ll see a black bar across the top of your screen with five icons. The live view icon is located in the middle, and it looks like a target. Simply clicking the live view icon will disable live view. To disable live view in your smartphone settings, go to photos & camera, then preserve settings, then live photo, and you will see the option to turn it off. 

Also under settings, you should check your photo size as the default may be set at the highest level and contributing to your data challenges.

This contributing article is from the Tech Helpline, a service of the WRA, and is authored by Kevin Hawkins, an award-winning freelance writer on real estate and technology topics. 

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