How can I reduce the size of my photos in MasterCook using tools provided and what do you recommend?
Please note Windows has problems working with data files that are larger than 2 GB in size. This can be a problem in MasterCook with the .mcx cookbook files because those contain all of your recipe photos. This is why it's important to resize your recipe photos or have smaller cookbooks with fewer recipes.
Before following the instructions below, make a backup of your files first!
It ultimately depends on how you want to use the photos. If you want to be able to print out a photo on a full sheet of paper and have the quality be the best possible, you will want a large file which gives the best quality. If you are just browsing recipes in MasterCook on the computer and don't really care about them being so large, then you can reduce them to the size that looks best with your computer's screen resolution and what you prefer. So, it's not really a cut and dry answer. It depends on what you want to do with those photos.
However, MasterCook 14 and 15 automatically resize large photos when you export in the .mz2 format. Any main recipe photo that is larger than 500 pixels on the largest side will be resized down to 500 pixels on the largest side. Direction/instruction photos are resized down to 300 pixels on the largest side. So, export all of your recipes in a cookbook in the .mz2 format. Create a new cookbook in MasterCook. Import that .mz2 file. Now all of your photos are no larger than 500/300 pixels on the longest side inside this new cookbook.
Next, you can use the Compress Pictures in This Cookbook command from the Tools menu. This compresses the images just like photo software does. LEAD CMP is a proprietary compression by LEAD TOOLS. This setting gives you the best compression (reduction in file size) while maintaining great quality. The downside is other programs cannot read those photos, and it requires a special tool and license for use. For these reasons, I would suggest you avoid using that option.
This article explains how JPEG YUV 4:1:1 differs from JPEG YUV 4:2:2:
4:2:2 -- The two chroma components are sampled at half the sample rate of luma: the horizontal chroma resolution is halved. This reduces the bandwidth of an uncompressed video signal by one-third with little to no visual difference.
4:1:1 -- In chroma subsampling, the horizontal color resolution is quartered, and the bandwidth is halved compared to no chroma subsampling. Initially, 4:1:1 chroma subsampling of the DV format was not considered to be broadcast quality and was only acceptable for low-end and consumer applications.
So, 4:2:2 results in a better quality image (less grainy) than using 4:1:1.
The other settings in the Compress Pictures in This Cookbook command allow you to choose which is more important-(a) photo quality or (b) better compression/smaller file size. Again, that's like you see in photo editing software when it gives you compression choices.
I create several copies of a cookbook in MasterCook. Then I compress each of them with a different setting. (Rename the cookbook to match the setting you use to differentiate results.) Then I can browse the recipes and photos to see how they look and what I prefer.
All photos in a cookbook are stored within the .mcx file. That's why it gets so large. If you use one of the JPG compression settings in the Compress Pictures in This Cookbook, then you can extract the photos from the MCX file using a program called BitMap Rip (found free on the internet). Create a folder on your computer where you have the BitMapRip EXE file. Drop the MCX file onto the EXE file. It will extract each photo from the MCX file and add them to the same folder that has the Bitmap Rip EXE and the MCX file.
Additionally, CB2CB can often 'repair' corrupt .mc2/.mcx files INCLUDING photos, especially if the cookbook wasn't compressed using the LEAD CMP compression setting. Just have CB2CB open the MC2 file while it's in the same folder as the .mcx file. Then have it Export as an MZ2 file. It will often recover corrupt recipes and images from the MC2/MCX files. I use it regularly when helping others recover recipes from corrupt cookbook files.