Yahoo is making an enhancement to its Web mail service that it hopes will enable users to share photo files over e-mail in a better manner. Its new service, PhotoMail, lets senders ship small thumbnail images which, when clicked upon by recipients, launch the original, and larger, photo file. Now why didn't someone think of that before?

PhotoMail works by placing small thumbnail pictures in messages and storing the actual large photo files on a server of the Yahoo Photo online album service, says Andy Spillane, vice president of Yahoo Mail. Up to 300 thumbnails can be inserted in a Yahoo Mail message. When recipients click on a thumbnail, the original file residing on a Yahoo server is launched, so that a high-resolution version of the photo can be viewed, printed, or saved, Spillane says.

Currently, PhotoMail is only available to a small number of Yahoo mail users, but it is possible to sign up to help test it. Soon, it should be available to all users as a standard part of the company's e-mail service.