Solution for attachment-free photo downloads over email?
April 13, 2013 8:55 PM   Subscribe

I help this sweet old lady with computer stuff. She's running Windows 7 and uses an SBC account "powered by Yahoo!" (terribly out-of-date interface). She often receives emails with family photos from her daughter-in-law's iPhone. She CAN download them, and I'm teaching her how to wade through the attachment-folders that seems to create (for virus-scanning I presume) and then copy them over to her Pictures folder, where she can organize them. However, they are often rotated incorrectly because of some iPhone - Windows issue, and they are often checked "Read-Only"...

Fixing both of these things is an easy thing for -me- to do, but she's an absolute beginner and not technologically literate - and she really wants to be able to handle photos on her own. She's unwilling to turn off her Norton virus protection settings, etc. She's loathe to switch to a different email program, either, though I suspect that would be the best solution...

Anyone know the best way for an old lady to download photos over email in as few steps as possible? What's the best email program that's going to make this as easy and intuitive as possible?

I know, she should get a Mac really, or an iPad. But within Windows, what would be your solution? You gotta think like a 75 year old. It's not easy to cut-and-paste. Opening a new window is a huge concept. The difference between a browser window and a Explorer window are not at all obvious. Anyway, thanks!
posted by wavejumper to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
In Windows XP at least the default Windows Picture and Fax Viewer is able to rotate and save as a new file, so if the same is true in Windows 7 instead of having her move them to the Pictures folder how about having her view them in place, press the "Rotate" button if necessary, and then save to the Pictures folder?
posted by XMLicious at 9:13 PM on April 13, 2013

May I recommend ThumbsPlus? I've been using it for years, and it is excellent. It allows you to browse multiple directories, to create custome galleries, to rotate images and do other kinds of processing on them if you desire, and it's an excellent image viewer.

It's probably got a lot more than your lady needs, but you don't have to use most of its features. It isn't cheap, but it's worth the price. I can't live without it.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:28 PM on April 13, 2013

For Windows 7, there's a whole bunch of Windows stuff that works well with it. Live Mail, Live Gallery, Sky Drive for backup, Security Essentials instead of Norton, etc.
posted by sageleaf at 11:52 PM on April 13, 2013

Response by poster: ThumbsPlus? No, Thumbsdown on that, it looks very complicated. I'm looking for like a 2-click solution, not her having to learn a whole nother program. So is the consensus that Windows Live Mail is better than Thunderbird or other free mail programs? Does anyone know which one deals with .ZIPs / virus protection easily?
posted by wavejumper at 8:56 AM on April 14, 2013

I don't know about a 2-click solution specifically, but I'm a Thunderbird user, and it's about as painless as I can imagine any modern client being for downloading attachments. Attached images are automatically displayed in the message window, and there's a bar at the bottom that shows all the attachments in the current message. Left clicking once on the name of the attachment will bring up a box that gives an option to open, save, or "do this automatically for files like this from now on". (You'd probably want to check that last box for her to set files to automatically download to My Pictures or whereever. Then that box will never come up again, and it should be a one-click maneuver for her to save future images).

If she is getting emails with a bunch of pictures in it, it might get tedious to manually save each picture one-by-one. Maybe a plugin like AttachmentExtractor would help. It's still not 2 clicks, but once you have it configured, it's a matter of right-clicking on the email, left clicking "Extract from Selected Message", and all the images should now be saved in her default folder.

I say this because I'm familiar with Thunderbird, but if you can get her IMAP/SMTP server settings, then I'm betting just about any desktop mail client, Thunderbird or otherwise, is going to be an improvement over some ISP webmail client.

As far as virus protection goes...that should be a painless, behind-the-scenes thing. Norton isn't making new folders--that's not how it works. If she is unpacking zip files, it's probably her zip program that's making those folders. If she's downloading .jpg and .tiff files directly from email, I'm not sure where new folders are coming from unless she's making them herself, but I can tell you it's not Norton reorganizing your files. The only time it moves your files is when it quarantines files that are actively infected.

Can you clarify where the zip files are coming from? If her relatives are sending pictures through email, there really shouldn't be a zip file involved unless the relative is packaging it as such. And if the relative is zipping files, perhaps the relative should be gently encouraged not to do that, for Grandma's sake.

Also, XMLicious has a good point. When she opens a picture, which program pops up? If it's not the default Windows picture viewer, you should change it to be that. Often, other programs will hijack the file association with images, and in my personal opinion, the Windows previewer is by far the easiest for rapidly viewing an image and rotating it. It will have two big blue buttons to rotate the image left or right, and that's all she has to do. Any other program is just bloat. She can also use the left and right arrows to scroll through her image collection.
posted by wondercow at 10:00 AM on April 14, 2013

Best answer: I just tried to replicate this as best I could, sending three vertical photos from my iPad to my SBC account, then the same three to my account that uses the Live client, plus GMail for the heck of it. Here's what happens:

Yahoo/SBC is what's bundling them into zips, and runs a Norton scan. She may not actually have Norton on her machine.

The Live client doesn't zip them, and I would suspect most local clients won't -- the zips are a byproduct of webmail being webmail (GMail will do it too). In the client, I can right-click them to save (all), or if I "view slide show" it will open Live Photo Gallery's viewer (if you don't have this installed, I'm pretty sure the default viewer is the fallback, and both offer rotation). At this point, she can either look at them or open LPG (one-click menu item) to edit or save them. LPG will open with the photos in a TEMP folder. She can then select (check box on pic) and drag to a pictures folder (pane on left).

One possible snag is the temp folder behavior, which only lasts as long as the session. This is as of whatever install I have, and I haven't checked for newer versions.

I think 80% of the problem is godawful Yahoo, which imo is the worst possible webmail, and she'd be better off with any local client, and whatever photo viewer/editor/saver she likes. Tell her another old lady said so.
posted by sageleaf at 10:38 AM on April 14, 2013

Adding more worms to the can: Pretty sure SBC/Yahoo has no IMAP capabilities.
posted by sageleaf at 5:14 PM on April 14, 2013

Response by poster: Yeah, with no IMAP, is Live Mail and Thunderbird out?
I have to switch her to a new email account, right?
posted by wavejumper at 6:43 PM on April 14, 2013

Thunderbird can definitely use a POP account.
posted by XMLicious at 6:51 PM on April 14, 2013

I think if the relative installs Dropbox on her iPhone, she can set photos to automatically go to Dropbox (or iCloud), and then she presumably can set that Dropbox folder to automatically share with your friend, or if she doesn't want to share that folder, the relative can move the photos to a different shared folder. Dropbox will create a folder on your friend's desktop and the photos will sync from the server to that folder, so you will totally bypass the whole email thing. The photos will just entirely automatically appear in a folder on your friend's computer. This will be a much easier way to do it.
posted by Dansaman at 9:27 PM on April 14, 2013

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