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When saving an image you will be asked to choose which format to save it in. Many people may not notice this option and save it to whatever the computer defaults to or when To Use a JPG, GIF or Other Image Formats

The problem with this is that each format has its own set of qualities and should be used for specific purposes. Trying to understand the different file formats may get confusing, but we want to help clarify what they are and how to use them.

This format stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. It is best used for photographs and complex images. It compresses the image data into pixels or tiles. It is not a format you use for image editing since the image becomes so compressed that it loses clarity.

Every time you save an image in JPG the quality degrades each time. JPG is the most common file type used for web due to its small size.

This format stands for Graphics Interchange Format and is limited to 256 colors.  An animated GIF is made by using multiple images linked together to create motion. GIFs are mostly used for animations and small files, but can also be used for logos, graphs and navigational icons.

If the image has few colors and doesn’t need any advanced effects, GIF is fine. It is not recommended for photography and may be seen as an out-of-date file format. Since GIFs can be animated they are used for banner ads on the web and are starting to make a comeback.

This format stands for Portable Network Graphics and was created to replace the GIF. It is bigger than JPG and GIF and may not be supported by older browsers. It is best for transparency and smaller non-lossy files. Use PNG for images involving text, charts, screenshots or detailed illustrations.

This format stands for Tagged Image File Format. It is used for pictures of a document, but a PDF is the more efficient format to use.

PSD and AI
PSD is a Photoshop file and AI is an Adobe Illustrator file. These formats are just working files that can only be used for these specific programs.

You wouldn’t save anything in this format unless you are currently working on it in one of these programs.

When saving files on a Windows computer you can name the file anything and make the name as long as 200 characters. On the other hand, Macs limit you to 32 characters when naming a file. So, if you are going to share the file with someone else, it is best to keep the file name under 32 characters so that anyone can open it no matter what computer they use.

Chances are if you are just uploading pictures of your friends and family to share with others, you are most likely just going to use JPG, but knowing information about all the different formats may come in handy one day. Understanding these formats will help you with your website and in the event you ever want to edit an image.

Of course there are dozens of other file formats for different things including text, audio, and video, but all of the formats discussed above are the basic ones used for images.

For all of your graphic design and marketing needs, contact us at

To read more about these different file types visit the following links below.


About the Author

Xavier Cimetta

Xavier Cimetta is part owner and the head Designer/Front-end developer at Cimetta Design, Inc. As an entrepreneur and work-a-holic, his mission is to help fellow entrepreneurs & businesses design beautiful brands, websites, packaging and experiences to reach their goals.

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