It’s quick and easy to send attachments via email, but what about when those files become too large?
Many email clients place restrictions on the sizes of files that can be sent, and even those that are delivered can clog up the recipient’s inbox. The good news is, there are a few ways to share large files with colleagues, clients, or friends without paying a penny.
Send files with a file transfer service
The most obvious way to send a file that’s too big for email is using a dedicated file transfer site, of which there are plenty. These allow you to upload a file to one website so that your recipient can download it, either from an email or via a link you can share with them.
WeTransfer is the best known of these sites. It’s free, you don’t need to register, and you can send up to 2GB at a time. You can upload and send files as often as you like, and with to up to 20 people at a time.
The download link is sent via email, and valid for seven days. Uploading files can be a bit slow during busy times, so the company recommends sending files in the morning or after work to avoid the rush hour of internet congestion.
If you need to send something larger than 2GB, Send Anywhere is a similar service, but allows you to share up to 10GB via a link, or unlimited file sizes using its default system which requires recipients to plug in a 6-digit key to access their documents.
If you want something a little more secure, consider Hightail. Formerly known as YouSendIt, this requires you to sign up for a free account, making it more complicated than WeTransfer and MailBigFile for one-off transfers. Each file is also limited to 100MB on the free plan, so this won’t suit larger transfers.
However, Hightail offers secure data encryption, receipt verification, and mobile and desktop app access. If you’re worried about particularly sensitive files, this might be the one to go for.
All of the above let you send files for free, though also offer paid plans that typically allow for larger files, long-term file storage, and other perks.
Send larger files using cloud storage
If none of those appeal – or the file size limitations are a problem – then it might be easiest to simply use a cloud storage service to share your files.
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Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive all allow you to share files you’ve uploaded, and don’t require the recipient to have their own accounts, although you will need an account to send them.
All offer some level of free storage, though Google is the clear winner here with its 15GB free plan – you’re limited to 5GB with OneDrive or 2GB with Dropbox.
All three offer web access and apps for desktop, iPhone, and Android, so there are plenty of ways to upload and share files, and no restrictions on individual file sizes so long as you’re within the overall storage limit.
All three also offer paid-for plans if you find those storage limits aren’t enough, and prices are often surprisingly low.
Even Apple’s iCloud gets in on the action, and actually offers its own dedicated tool for file-sharing: Mail Drop.
Built into the Mail app it works by making use of iCloud to upload the file to the web and generating a link that the recipient can use to download and access the file. Even if the recipient doesn’t use Mail or even have an Apple device at all, they’ll still be able to access the file.
If the recipient does use Mail, the file will automatically be downloaded as an attachment on the email and they won’t even notice anything different from a normal attachment. Check out our sister site Macworld to find out more about Mail Drop.