Use Mail's Photo Browser to Add an Image to an Email

Photo browser can perform searches and export images

cursor arrow clicking on email icon

Gregor Schuster / Getty Images

If you use the Mail application on your Mac to share images via email—and let's face it, who doesn't—you may drag an image from the Finder or from within the Photos or iPhoto app to the email message you're writing. While the drag-and-drop method works fine, especially if the image you want to share is loosely stored in the Finder, there's a better way.

Apple's Mail app includes a built-in Photo Browser that you can use to look through your Aperture, Photos, or iPhoto libraries. You can then easily select the image you want to share and add it to your message with just a click

Information is this article applies to Mail in the following operating systems: macOS Catalina (10.15), macOS Mojave (10.14), macOS High Sierra (10.13), and macOS Sierra (10.12)

Using the Mail Photo Browser is a lot easier than opening Aperture, Photos, or iPhoto, and then dragging an image to the Mail app. It also has the added advantage of not taking up system resources to launch one of the photo applications.

Using Mail's Photo Browser

The process of using the Photo Browser in the Mail application couldn't be easier:

  1. Launch Mail if it isn't already running by clicking its icon in the Dock.

    Mail icon in the Mac Dock
  2. Open a new message screen and begin typing your message.

    New message screen in Mac Mail application
  3. Click the Photo Browser icon in the top right corner of the new message toolbar. It looks like two stacked photos.

    A new Mail message window showing the Photo Browser menu

    You can also access the Photo Browser by selecting Window on the Mail menu bar and clicking Photo Browser in the drop-down menu.

  4. Click Photos or one of the other available library options in the Photo Browser.

    Photo Browser thumbnail images view in Mac Mail
  5. Scroll through the thumbnail images located in the chosen library. Double-click on any thumbnail to see a larger version of the photo.

    Photo Browser in Mac Mail application
  6. Click and drag the chosen photo to the body of the Mail message. It is inserted wherever your cursor is positioned, but you can select and drag it to another location. Don't worry if it looks too big at this point.

    Mac Mail message including photo dragged from Photo Browser

    You can drag from either the thumbnail view or the enlarged view in the Photo Browser.

    When you drag a photo to your message, a line is added to the email header for Message Size and Image Size.

  7. Click the drop-down menu next to Image Size in the email header and choose Small, Medium, Large, or Actual Size.

    Resized image in Mac Mail

    Don't overlook this step, particularly if you are attaching several images. With photos at Actual Size or Large, your email may become too large for your provider to handle.

You can use the search bar located at the bottom of the Photo Browser to search on keywords, titles, or file names to find the image you want to use.

Other Ways to Add Photos to an Email

You can click and drag a photo to an email message from almost any location, including the desktop, a Finder window, or an open document in another application.

You can also attach a photo to an email message by clicking the Attach paperclip icon in the message window toolbar. From there, locate the target image on your Mac and click Choose File.

Keep Files Small

When you send files via email, remember that you may have message size limitations with your email provider, and the recipients may have message size limitations with their email providers. As tempting as it may be to send full-size images, it's usually better to send smaller versions. You can toggle between sizes to pick the best size for your email, but the Small and Medium options are most likely the best choice for emails.