Dave Taylor

How To Embed Images For Gmail

By: Dave Taylor
April 16th, 2009
I'm becoming quite a convert to Google's Gmail service, but miss one feature of my previous email client: the ability to embed graphics in my email messages. It's a great way to include photos with annotations, and I want it. Can I hack Gmail to embed images??

Dave's Answer:

No hacking involved, fortunately, Google's just released a "Gmail Labs" extension called "Inserting Images" that lets you do exactly what you want, though, of course, if the recipients' email system doesn't support embedded images in email messages it's not going to work properly. But then again, that's a problem with all apps that will let you embed graphics, isn't it? :-)

To get this working, you need to click on the little lab beaker icon that sits on the top of your Gmail interface and that you probably have never clicked on before.

It looks like this:

google gmail top right menu labs

Once you click on that, you'll see the many, many different extensions to Gmail that are available. I have about a half-dozen enabled, myself, but let's just scroll down to near the bottom, where you'll find:

google gmail insert images

Choose "Enable" then scroll to the very bottom and click on "Save Changes". Now you've added a new capability to your Gmail interface. Easy, eh?

I'll send a quick message and show you how this works, as it's delightfully easy to use too. Here's a message I'm writing and the cursor is poised over the tiny picture icon, as you can see:

google gmail insert image

When I click on it, a rather stark looking window pops up:

google gmail insert image pre select

You can reference an image that's already online (useful if you want to use images from, say, Flickr) but we're going to upload an image to include in the email. Click on "Choose File" and you'll get a regular, standard old file selection window:

google gmail insert image select

I want to include "chop-shop-one-sheet.jpeg" so that's what I'll select, then click on "Choose". Very quickly the file is uploaded to Google's Gmail server and I see:

google gmail insert image selected

That's exactly what I want, so I'll click on "Add Image", and:

google gmail insert image included

Notice that Gmail gives you a tiny little toolbar letting you resize the image or even remove it. That toolbar will vanish when the image isn't selected, which is nice.

Finally, I wrap up the composition, press "Send" and when the email is received (in this case, in Microsoft Entourage) it looks splendid:

google gmail inline image received

Just what I wanted! And that, dear reader, is how you embed graphics, photographs or other images in your Gmail messages.


About the Author: Dave Taylor has been involved with the Internet since 1980 and is internationally known as an expert on both business and technology issues. Holder of an MSEd and MBA, author of twenty books and founder of four startups, he also runs a strategic marketing company and consults with firms seeking the best approach to working with weblogs and social networks. Dave is an award-winning speaker and frequent guest on radio and podcast programs. AskDaveTaylor.com http://www.intuitive.com/blog/