I rent a PO Box from a UPS Store near my office. I was in there recently picking up packages, waiting in line behind a woman who wanted two things: A resized printout of a photo someone had emailed her and to ship a small item via USPS.

The people who run the UPS Store know me pretty well since I’ve been getting mail delivered there for years. And the woman waiting on this customer shot me a guilty, “Can I help it if people want to throw money at me?” look as she quoted the customer $3 for the photo and a high (I thought) price for the box, packing material, handling, and postage for her small package.

I didn’t say a word. But I resize and print photos all the time. And I ship via USPS pretty often too – on nice customized labels. So I know for a fact that this customer was paying a hefty price for her digital ignorance. And the UPS Store clerk knew it too.

Resizing a photo is easy. Just open in it whatever image editor you have. If you are using a Windows machine, you are sure to have Paint. (Look in Accessories.) Open your photo and choose Image/Resize/Skew. (Your image editor may call this something slightly different but the tool will be there.) Like this:

You will get a dialogue box that will ask you how much you want to resize or skew. You can’t really go wrong here. Until you save your image again, you haven’t done anything permanent. But to keep the proportions of your image right, use the same number in both Horizontal and Vertical. This photo is large so I chose to shrink it to 25% of its original size. Like this:

It’s still pretty big.

If I want to post this to my blog or print it on snapshot-sized paper, I would crop it (cut out a piece of the image) or shrink it some more. In fact, the great thing about shooting with a nice camera in a high-resolution format is that I can cut a piece out of a shot to resize it.

These are just a couple of easy, free methods for resizing a photo.

If you are using a photo printer, it will offer options for resizing, cropping, and correcting photos as you print. And, of, course, there are lots of image editing tools –from the expensive PhotoShop to the Open Source (that means free) The Gimp – that all have richer editing features than Paint.

If you buy photo paper for your ink-jet printer (especially if it makes claims about being able to print photos) you can do this entire process at home in a few minutes. And the printouts from a reasonably new photo printer are beautiful, instant, and won’t cost anything close what that customer at the UPS Store was paying.

As for the shipping, I print customized-for-each-package labels right from my desk using the Endicia service, the software that comes with it, and labels that Fedex gives me for free. Want more details on easy shipping options? Read this post.

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