Mike Arnebeck


JPEGs and PNGs are two of the most popular image file formats used today. Since there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” for file formats, what are the differences between the two, and when is it better to use one over the other?

What are JPEGs?

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) is a lossy file format, which means that certain unnecessary information is permanently deleted. In other words, some quality is compromised with the JPEG format, but it significantly helps to reduce the image’s overall file size. That makes it useful for storing images, such as photographs, at a smaller file size and is a common choice for use on the Web because of its compression. It is also the most popular image format in the world.

What are PNGs?

Unlike JPEGs, PNG (Portable Network Graphics) is a lossless compression file format, which means it retains all of the data contained in the file. Lossless compression is necessary when you have images still in the editing process or if file size is not an issue. An important benefit, and oftentimes a deciding factor for using a PNG file, is that they support transparency – unlike a JPEG. This allows you to have a transparent background around an object and avoid a white (or colored) box outlining your image.

The main consideration when deciding which one to use comes down to size and quality. If file size is not an issue, or you need a transparent background, PNG is a good option. But if file size is limited or the image needs to load quickly, then JPEGs might be the better way to go. Another “rule of thumb” with these file formats is: JPEGs are better for photographs and realistic images, PNGs are better for line art, text-heavy images, and images with few colors.