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What is the Main Difference Between JPEG and PNG Formats?

Have you ever had to decide between saving images in JPEG or PNG format? If so, you’re probably wondering about the difference between the two.

At first glance, JPEGs and PNGs do seem like two sides of the same coin. They’re both raster image files that support interlacing, metadata, and color management. Neither format supports HDR, layers, or animation.

What’s the difference between JPEG and PNG files, then? Well, there are a few big things that set them apart. Let’s have a look!

Compression Process

First things first: these two file formats use very different compression methods.

The purpose of JPEGs is to store high-quality digital photos as efficiently as possible. They’re capable of compressing large images into smaller sizes without losing on quality. That makes them easier to store or share.

To achieve this, though, JPEGs have to use a lossy compression process. Whenever you make an image smaller, some of its data is permanently lost. In the long term, this could compromise the quality of the image.

By comparison, PNGs use lossless compression. No matter how much you compress an image, its quality will stay the same.

File Size

When it comes to converting images to a smaller size, JPEGs reign supreme.

If you’re managing a large image library, the benefits of smaller file sizes are obvious. They don’t take up much space, you don’t need to wait to open them, and you can share and download them simultaneously.

File size also doubles as the biggest downside of PNGs. Since they use lossless compression, the files have to keep more information, which adds up. On average, this makes PNG files much bigger than JPEG files.

This downside is also why PNGs aren’t ideal for storing high-quality photos. Their strength is in handling detailed web design. With a huge color palette and a lot of detail, PNGs are great for charts, illustrations, and so on.

Transparency

The last major difference between JPEGs and PNGs is their ability to retain transparency in images.

JPEG files don’t support transparent backgrounds. As a result, logos and graphics featuring lots of text are unlikely to work well in this format. JPEGs also don’t blend well web pages featuring different background colors.

PNG images do support transparency. If you wanted to, you could even apply different degrees of transparency to your PNG image. This feature makes PNGs much easier to integrate into web design.

That’s also a big reason why you’d want to convert JPG to PNG files. Since JPEG files don’t support transparency, the only way to get it would be to convert the image to a PNG.

More on the Difference Between JPEG and PNG Files

If there’s one thing to take away from this article, it’s that there’s no winner in the JPEG vs. PNG debate. Both image formats have their strengths and weaknesses, so it’s up to you to pick the right format for your needs.

Want to know more about the difference between JPEG and PNG files? Keep checking out our Technology section!

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