Pros and cons of JPEG files.
The trade-off between file size and image quality is where the JPEG debate heats up.
Advantages of JPEGs.
- JPEG files are arguably the most universally recognized image file format — compatible with most browsers, software, and apps.
- Their small file sizes allow for quick transfer and fast access for viewing online. By intelligently discarding all the colors that the human eye can’t pick out — called lossy compression — JPEGs keep their file size as small as possible. Compared to lossless formats like GIFs, JPEGs are dramatically smaller in size.
- Post-processing is easier because white balance and saturation in JPEGs are set with the click of the shutter.
Disadvantages of JPEG.
- Lossy compression may be a space-saver, but when dealing with very heavily compressed images, the quality will suffer. Images with clean edges and lines will lose some of their sharpness in the compression.
- Losing so much data may cause posterization — the loss of smoother transition between colors, making an image look blockier and abrupt. It may also cause the appearance of artifacts — aliasing on edges, blooming, or noise — which can severely affect image quality. Photographers can avoid the potential pitfalls of artifacts and posterization by saving photos in raw format.
How to open a JPEG file.
On a web browser (Windows).
If you’ve found an image on a web page and want to view it on its own, you can usually open it in a new tab. Right-click on the image (on PC) and select Open Image in New Tab or similar.
On a web browser (Mac).
If you’re operating Safari or a different browser on a Mac, you’ll see the same type of option as above for opening an image in a new tab. Just hold down the Command key and click on the image to bring up a menu, then select Open Image in New Tab.
From your desktop or hard drive.
Your computer should have a default image viewing program such as Photos for Windows or Preview on Mac. To open a file that’s saved on your computer, double-click the image file on your desktop and it will open using the default program.
Alternatively, you can use your preferred piece of software for viewing photos on Windows:
- Right-click on the image on your desktop or file explorer window
- Scroll down to Open With, then move right to see the list of programs that are preset to open your JPEG
How to create and edit a JPEG file.
When you want to save a finished file in Adobe Photoshop, you can create a JPEG file by clicking on the File menu, then selecting Save As.
You can return at any time to edit the file by opening Photoshop and using the File menu, then Open, to locate the file in your file explorer window. However, JPEG may not be the best choice for saving works-in-progress on Photoshop — the lossy compression can affect the image quality and you may lose some of the effect of the work. If this is the case for you, try saving as an alternative file format like PSD.
JPEG files: frequently asked questions.