Compress Images in Large Microsoft Word Documents (10 Ways)

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated August 12, 2020

Applies to: Microsoft® Word® 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and 365 (Windows)

You can compress images in several ways in Microsoft Word documents to reduce the size of the file. There are built-in Word compression features you can use to make large files smaller but you can also reduce image size before you insert pictures into your documents. If you’re using Microsoft 365, 3D models can cause a significant increase in file size.

The following are 10 ways to compress images in Word documents:

  1. Compress pictures using Compress Pictures on the Ribbon in Word
  2. Compress pictures when saving a Word document
  3. Change default compression settings in Word Options
  4. Insert pictures instead of copying and pasting
  5. Use image files at a lower resolution
  6. Convert images to a different file type
  7. Replace 3D models with 2D alternatives
  8. Save a copy of images with picture effects
  9. Discard editing data
  10. Link to images

Note: Buttons and Ribbon tabs may display in a different way (with or without text) depending on your version of Microsoft Word, the size of your screen and your Control Panel settings. For Word 365 users, Ribbon tabs may appear with different names. For example, the Picture Tools Format tab may appear as Picture Format.

To view file size in Microsoft Word:

  1. Click the File tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click Info. In the Properties area, file size is listed beside Size.

You may want to try most of the following techniques in a copy of the Word document.

Once you’ve completed one or more of the following strategies, close and save the Word file, reopen it and check the file size again. You can also view file size in Windows 10 File Explorer or Windows Explorer in older versions of Windows.

1. Compress pictures using Compress Pictures on the Ribbon in Word

One of the most common ways to reduce file size is to compress one or all of the pictures in your Word document using Compress Pictures. You may want to try this with one picture at a time to be sure you are satisfied with the result after compression.

To compress a picture in a Word document:

  1. Select the picture.
  2. Click the Picture Tools Format or Picture Format tab in the Ribbon in Word.
  3. In the Adjust group, click Compress Pictures. A dialog box appears.
  4. Select the check box to Apply only to this picture if you want to compress only the current picture or uncheck this option if you want to compress all pictures in the presentation.
  5. Select the check box to Delete cropped areas of pictures if you have cropped images and want to permanently delete the areas you have removed by cropping.
  6. Choose the desired document resolution.
  7. Click OK.

Compress pictures appears on the Picture Tools Format or Picture Format tab in the Ribbon:

Compress pictures command in Word in the Ribbon to reduce image file size.

Below is the Compress Pictures dialog box:

Compress pictures dialog box in Word to compress images and reduce file size.

Select the target output resolution that is most appropriate for the way you want to use the file. Select E-mail (96 ppi) for maximum compression. Use Web (150 ppi) if you plan to post your Word document online. Choose Print (220 ppi) if you intend to print. HD options (such as 330 ppi) are available in newer versions for high-definition displays.

If a picture has already been compressed, higher-resolution compression options may not be available. For example, if you’ve saved a Word document and the default 220 ppi compression in Word options is set, you won’t be able to compress an image again using 330 ppi (HD).

Images that are downloaded from the internet may already be compressed so higher-resolution compression options may not be available for an image. Also, although Word will allow you specify compression settings for CMYK images, it won’t actually compress them.

Don’t forget to check pictures in headers and footers.

2. Compress pictures when saving a Word document

You can also compress all images when you save a Word document.

To save a Word file and compress images:

  1. Open the Word file.
  2. Click the File tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Choose Save As. If necessary, click Options or More Options. A dialog box appears.
  4. Navigate to the desired location and name the file with a different name (such as OurServices2).
  5. Click Tools. A drop-down menu appears.
  6. Click Compress Pictures. A dialog box appears.
  7. Select the desired resolution.
  8. Click OK.
  9. Click Save.

3. Change default compression settings in Word Options

Word compresses pictures by default based on settings in Word Options. If you set the default to a lower resolution, this should reduce file size. It’s important to note that the compression settings are applied when you save the Word document and only to the current file.

To change automatic compression settings:

  1. Open the Word file.
  2. Click the File tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Options. A dialog box appears.
  4. In the categories on the left, click Advanced.
  5. In the Image Size and Quality settings, choose an option for Default resolution. If you turn off compression completely, your file size would not be compressed.
  6. Click OK.

Below is the Word Options dialog box with resolution settings in 365 (resolutions are different depending on version):

Word options to compress images in a file using default compression.

Higher resolution options are not available in older versions of Microsoft Word. You can change the automatic picture compression for the current file only so it’s best to change compression settings when you first create a Word file.

4. Insert pictures instead of copying and pasting

It’s best to insert pictures, rather than copying and pasting (or dragging and dropping) into the Word file. When you copy and paste (or drag and drop) an image into a document, it can lose compression, change file type and also bring in other data that can increase file size.

To insert a picture into a Word document:

  1. Position the cursor where you want to insert the picture.
  2. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon and click Pictures (2013 and later versions) or Picture (2010). You can also click the Pictures or Picture icon in a placeholder on a slide. A dialog box appears. If necessary, click Work Offline.
  3. Navigate to the location of the picture.
  4. Select the picture and click Insert or double-click the picture.

You also have the option of linking to a picture file by clicking the arrow beside Insert in the Insert Picture dialog box and then choosing Link to File. However, the picture is not actually “in” the file (which reduces file size) and if you email the document, the pictures will not be included. If you use this strategy, it’s best to copy the picture to the same folder as the Word document and be sure to bring the entire folder with you when you deliver the presentation.

5. Use image files at a lower resolution

It’s best to insert pictures in smaller sizes to reduce the size of your Word files. For example, if you are inserting pictures from a stock photo site, select the lowest resolution possible at the quality level you require. It you’re taking pictures with a phone, save or send images at a lower resolution and insert the lower resolution images into your PowerPoint decks

You can also open an image in an image editing program (such as Microsoft Picture Manager or Adobe Photoshop) and then save it at a lower resolution.

6. Convert images to a different file type

You can save pictures in Word, delete them, and reinsert them into the Word document. For example, you could save a TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) image as a JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) or PNG (Portable Network Graphics) and reduce the size of the image.

To save an image in a different format and reinsert it into a Word document:

  1. Right-click the picture. A drop-down menu appears.
  2. Select Save As Picture. A dialog box appears.
  3. Navigate to the folder where you want to save the image.
  4. Enter a name for the file and select a format such as JPG or PNG (PNG supports transparent backgrounds).
  5. Click Save.
  6. In the Word document, delete the original image.
  7. Position the cursor where you want to insert the image.
  8. Click Insert and then click Picture(s). If necessary, click Work Offline.
  9. Navigate to the location with the image you saved.
  10. Double-click the image.

7. Save a copy of images with picture effects

When you apply picture effects, including artistic effects, to an image, Word retains two copies of the image (the original and a copy with the picture effects). This allows the user to reset the image but can significantly increase file size. Compressing pictures also doesn’t normally have any effect on images where you have applied artistic effects.

If you have applied picture effects to an image, you can reduce file size using the following method:

  1. Right-click the image with the picture effect(s). A drop-down menu appears.
  2. Select Save As Picture. A dialog box appears.
  3. Navigate to the folder where you want to save the image.
  4. Enter a name and select a file type (such as JPG or PNG).
  5. Click Save.
  6. In the Word document, delete the original image.
  7. Position the cursor where you want to insert the image.
  8. Click Insert and then click Picture(s). If necessary, click Work Offline.
  9. Navigate to the location with the image you saved.
  10. Double-click the image.

8. Replace 3D models with 2D alternatives

In Word 365, you can insert 3D models which can be very large in size. Although 3D models are not inserted as pictures but rather as 3D models, they are images. One model we inserted took 17 MB of space. You can’t compress 3D models like other types of images so you may need to delete them or use a picture instead if file size is an issue.

To replace a 3D model with a 2D picture:

  1. Click the 3D model (it should be set to inline).
  2. Press Ctrl + X to cut it (to the clipboard).
  3. Click in the document where you want to insert the 3D model.
  4. Press Ctrl + Alt + V. The Paste Special dialog box appears.
  5. Select an image type (not 3D model).
  6. Click OK.

You will lose the 3D functionality so you may want to store a copy of the 3D model in another file (or a copy of the file).

9. Discard editing data

You can also discard the copy of images that Word retains if you want to reset an image.

To discard editing data:

  1. Open the Word document.
  2. Click the File tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Options. A dialog box appears.
  4. In the categories on the left, click Advanced.
  5. In the Image Size and Quality settings, select Discard editing data.
  6. Click OK.

This setting is applied only to the current Word document.

10. Link to images

If you are creating a document with a lot of pictures, you can link to the picture files instead of copying them into your Word document. If you copy hundreds of images into a document, Word may crash if it hits the memory limit for Office so consider linking instead.

To link to a picture:

  1. Position the cursor in the Word document where you want to insert the picture.
  2. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Picture(s). If necessary, click Work Offline.
  4. Navigate to the location of the picture.
  5. Click the picture. A dialog box appears.
  6. On the bottom right of the dialog box, click the arrow beside Insert.
  7. Select Link to File.
  8. Repeat for other pictures.

If you choose to link to images, it’s a good idea to keep the images in a folder in the same folder as the Word document and then copy the entire folder if you are going to move it to another device.

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Summary
How to Compress Images in Word to Reduce File Size
Article Name
How to Compress Images in Word to Reduce File Size
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You can compress images in several ways in Microsoft Word documents to reduce the size of the file. There are built-in Word compression features you can use to make large files smaller but you can also reduce image size before you insert pictures into your documents. If you're using Microsoft 365, 3D models can cause a significant increase in file size.
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Avantix Learning

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