How to reduce the size of a word document by optimizing the images in 5 easy steps

Very useful in case you get a huge .doc / .docx full of images

Some time ago, I got a word document with around 36 MB and a request to resize this file in order to be lighter as it be sent via e-mail. The first thing I thought was the obvious: Why not compact the file? I use 7-zip, which is the best compression utility I have ever used. It did not work as expected since the file went down to 30 MB.

The problem 

When I’ve opened the document I could see that it had only 10 pages, each with 2 images. So it could be possible the images were way too heavy, meaning, not optimized for internet or text documents. Do you know those people who take a picture using all megapixels of the digital camera and start to send those 4 MB files to everybody? This was more or less the case.

The solution

It’s simple: All we need is to reduce the dimensions of the images in the word document. But I am not saying about simply resizing, but editing. By editing we will be able to reduce every of those heavy images into something more acceptable. For that, I will use my favorite image visualizer, the XnView.

So, with the word document open:

  1. Right click on the image, select “Save as picture…”, define a name and save itd

  2. Open the saved image in the XnView

  3. Click on the menu “Image” and then “Resize” (or Shift + S)

  4. Choose the appropriated size and press Ok. Here is a bit tricky since it depends on the width/height the image actually should have according to your word document

  5. Save the image (File -> Save or Ctrl + S)

I’ve used 800 x 400 with this image and its size decreased from 7 MB to 65 KB. Now it is only about deleting the huge picture from the word document and add the new resized one. The result is a document with 78 KB, which is much better to send around the internet.

Note: This problem is going to happen if you insert the images by drag & drop. If you use the menu (Insert -> Pictures) the image will go through a process of optimization and the document will not be so heavy.