How to Send Large Files Via Email (Without Filling Your Inbox)

Sending project components, training videos, and other large files over email should be the simplest part of your workday, but if you or your company haven’t yet found a method to send big files that fits your specific needs, emailing attachments can be a source of frustration. Most email clients have a size limit for message attachments, which usually limits users to 25 MB attachments at the largest, and many email attachment size limits are even smaller at around 10 MB. Therefore, sending larger files requires a workaround of some kind, and it can be tricky to find the best way to send large files over email.

Fortunately, because this problem is so universal, there are a wealth of options out there to provide different workarounds. There are many methods available if you want to email a large file or email a video file, and you’ll save time in your future work routines by taking the time now to test out different options and decide which one fits your needs best.

Use Your Email Client’s Integrated Cloud Storage to Send Large Files Via Email

Are you using Gmail, Outlook, or iCloud email? If so, you may find it convenient to use the cloud storage services that these platforms have integrated into their email clients. Services like Google Drive, OneDrive, and iCloud are designed to work seamlessly with their corresponding email services, so, you won’t encounter difficulties with getting an unrelated cloud storage service to work with an email client designed by a different company.

1. Google Drive

google drive screenshot

(Image Source: Google)

Whether you’re using your email for business or personal purposes, the popularity of Gmail has made Google Drive nearly ubiquitous. When you try to attach a file that’s over Google’s 25MB email file size limit, Gmail will automatically ask if you want to upload that file to drive and share the Drive link in your email instead. You can organize your file in terms of which Drive folders it belongs in right there in your email window, without having to go into Drive yourself. Because it’s native to Google (and Google Docs & Sheets), Google Drive is the simplest solution for sending large files for many Gmail users. However, it’s not for everyone. Google Drive takes up a lot of memory, and if you’re using a computer without much processing power, it can be a hassle to drag your whole system down by going into Google Drive just to grab an email attachment.

2. OneDrive


(Image Source: Microsoft)

If you use Microsoft Outlook, OneDrive is your native cloud storage service to send large files. Much like with Google Drive, OneDrive allows you to share documents with either a link that you can copy and paste, or through emailing the document. OneDrive is convenient to use for individuals, but it gets clunky fast when used as a more collaborative tool amongst teams.

3. iCloud and Mail Drop


(Image Source: Apple)

Apple’s solution to the email attachment size limit is Mail Drop, which is part of their iCloud cloud storage system that allows Apple users to sync content across their different Apple devices. Mail Drop functions differently from Google Drive and OneDrive, in that when you are prompted to attach a large file to your email with Mail Drop, your file will be hosted on iCloud, but the link will expire in thirty days. This can be an advantage if you know that you don’t want your files permanently hosted in your iCloud, but simply need to send them via email. What’s more, files temporarily uploaded through Mail Drop do not count against your iCloud storage limits. However, be cautious about the possibility of letting your files accidentally expire when your intention was to keep them organized in the cloud long-term.

The above three solutions to the problem of how to send large files via email could work well for you if you and your whole team use Gmail, Outlook, or iCloud email. If you need an option for sending large files that works with a wider variety of platforms, another option might be preferable.

4. Filestage

filestage screenshot

Filestage is design collaboration software built to simplify client feedback loops and allow for easier collaboration on big creative projects, and it is also an excellent tool for when you need to send bigger files via email. Within Filestage, you can upload different files (also video) and share each file via an emailed link online. When the client or co-worker clicks the link, the document opens and is ready for feedback. In addition to sharing documents over email, you can directly invite reviewers from within the Filestage platform.

Because Filestage was designed specifically for client feedback, review and approval processes and business collaboration, if you are looking to send large video files or other large files over email for business purposes, you may find that this software integrates easily with your existing processes.

Because Filestage is more than just a file transfer service, instead offering you a whole system of features to facilitate collaboration and teamwork, it is not free. You can find more information on Filestage pricing for different packages here.

5. WinRar

winrar screenshot

(Image Source: WinRar)

If you’re reluctant to use cloud storage for your large file, a more manual approach is to split the file into smaller parts using WinRar. Once you have installed the software on your computer, it’s simple to use WinRar to split up your file into several compressed files within an archive. You can specify how large each .rar file should be, and easily attach each separate file to your email. The limit of this option is that these separate compressed files must still add up to less than the email attachment size limit. What’s more, your recipient must download each file and have a file extraction program (WinRar works for this as well) to get the larger, complete file from the .rar attachments. If your recipient is someone who might not be very literate with technology (perhaps you’re sending photos to your grandparents who don’t use the computer very often), this probably won’t be the best option.

WinRar offers all users a free forty-day trial, after which the software will prompt you to purchase a license. However, you can continue using WinRar after this forty-day period, with the only difference being that the program will show you reminder messages to purchase.

6. Zip and Send

Creating zipped archives might feel like a throwback to the mid-’00s, but this method of sending large files still works just as well as ever. You can easily search for and choose from a number of free zip programs that are now available for Windows and Mac OS, such as WinZip, 7-Zip, Power Archiver, iZip, and many others. WinRar, as discussed above, can also compress files into a zipped archive. Create your zip file in your program of choice, and the file size should be much smaller than your original file and easy to send over email. If your recipient is using Windows, they should have the capacity to unzip your file built into their operating system, but otherwise, you may run into the same obstacle as above, where you could be burdening your recipient with the task of figuring out how to access your file.

7. Dropbox

dropbox screenshot

Dropbox is one of the most commonly-used cloud storage systems, and it is designed to work well for anyone who needs a central file hub that’s accessible to all team members. Within Dropbox, you can email a link to your file by clicking on Share, and anyone you’ve emailed the link to can then download it. Unlike some of the other options in this article that require users on both ends to have access to the same programs, your recipient won’t have to be a Dropbox user to access your file.  

A basic Dropbox account with 2GB of storage space is free, with options to upgrade to different levels (Dropbox Plus, Professional, or Business) for more space and other features.

8. WeTransfer

wetransfer screenshot

WeTransfer is another popular file transfer service. You can easily send files by going to the WeTransfer website, uploading your file, and typing your email address, recipient email, and the body of your email into the browser window. An advantage of WeTransfer is that it doesn’t require you to register an account on the site, and it is free up to files of 2GB, with a Plus account required for anything larger. Your recipient also will not need to create an account to download your file. You can also create a shareable link to any file that you upload.

9. Send Anywhere

sendanywhere screenshot

Send Anywhere stands out from some other file sending services because it functions more like a peer-to-peer file transfer, rather than inviting users to host their documents on a web server. Those who need to email documents of a sensitive nature may feel hesitant about using cloud storage and other hosting services as go-betweens for documents that must be transferred. Send Anywhere allows you to send documents securely through its app, and both the sender and recipient must enter in a six-digit code or QR code in order to access the files. If you value ease of file access for yourself and your recipient over enhanced security, then this feature might make Send Anywhere the less desirable option. But if you have any kind of security or privacy concerns with other file transfer services, Send Anywhere might make sense as your method to send large files.

A basic Send Anywhere account is free, and they also offer a one month free trial for Send Anywhere Plus, which provides more features.

10. HighTail (formerly YouSendIt)

hightail screenshot

You may remember YouSendIt from the mid-‘00s, back before cloud storage was common. That company is now named HighTail, and it’s still a popular solution to emailing large files and facilitating collaboration between multiple users. Not only does HighTail allow you to send links with your uploaded files, it also provides tracking so that you can tell when your file has been downloaded. You can set your own access codes and expiration dates for your files, giving you greater control over your documents once they are uploaded to HighTail’s servers. The free version of this service allows you to send files up to 100MB with a 2GB overall storage limit.

11. Firefox Send

firefox send screenshot

If you’re a Mozilla Firefox user, you might prefer this file sharing method. Firefox Send is free and allows you to send files up to 1GB. It’s another good option for the security-conscious, as it offers encrypted file transfers that self-destruct after the file has been downloaded by its intended recipient. Because of the heavy security, this option is less optimal for collaboration or for sending files to multiple recipients, but if you occasionally need to send encrypted files to individuals, it could work well for you.

12. Mediafire

mediafire screenshot

Another ‘00s throwback, you don’t hear or see Mediafire used as much these days for file sharing and uploads. However, this service is still a reliable option for uploading larger files and easily sharing them with email links. You have to register on their website and create an account, and then uploading your videos and getting the shareable link is a simple process. Within your Mediafire account, you’ll be able to see a library of the past files you’ve uploaded and delete them once you no longer need them available to share.

It is free to register a Mediafire account, with the option to purchase a Pro account for more features, up to 1TB storage space, and no ads.

13. FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

Unlike the other options in this list, this method doesn’t involve email at all. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is definitely an old-school solution to the question of how to send large files, but FTP transfers are just as fast and secure today as they were twenty years ago. There are a number of free or inexpensive FTP clients to choose from, with FileZilla being the most well-known option, and widely considered to be the best.

One of the major advantages of using FTP over other file transfer methods is that it picks up stalled downloads when you or your recipient has a weak connection. You probably don’t need to go through an FTP client if you or your recipients have never struggled with interrupted downloads, but if you know that you’ll be regularly working with numerous large video files, you may want to look into setting up an FTP client to facilitate ease of downloading.

How to Send Large Files With Ease

Above all, the most important factor in the method of file transfer you choose is how much time it will add to your email processes. It may not seem like much, but wasted minutes every time you have to send an email add up throughout your day. Even if you’re reading this article because you do, in fact, have to email large photo files to your grandparents, such a task should be as seamless and easy as possible without stealing time from other, more labor-intensive parts of your day.

And if you need to be able to email huge files to collaborators regularly for your job, it’s all the more important that you be able to send emails without a second thought. The miniature tasks, such as sending emails, that come together to make up your larger creative workflow should function to enhance your productivity, not distract you and make you spend unnecessary time solving what should be a simple problem.

Many file sharing solutions were designed with the firsthand awareness of how frustrating it is to stop in the middle of your work and wrestle with the size of an email attachment. By taking the time to research the best method for your businesses, you will save yourself headaches and wasted time down the line. A streamlined and easy process for sending email attachments will have positive ripple effects on the rest of your workflow and allow for greater productivity and collaboration with minimal stress.

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