Here’s a guide on when to use JPEG, GIF & PNG files.

Can you imagine the world without images? The world without photographs? It’s like a world without stories, a world without memories. Images are meant to tell stories, a reason to reminiscence about the past. They are the evidence of the beautiful times you have spent.

This post is dedicated to shed light on the different image file formats spanned over the years.

Let us begin with JPEG file format.


JPEG stands for “Joint Photographic Experts Group” and it was developed in the year 1986. It is actually based on the name of a compression algorithm created by the Independent JPEG group. JPEG makes use of the bit mapped information which are stored in pixel files. 24 bits of memory are devoted to each pixel.

When & Where to use JPEG?

 The JPEG file format is used where having a reduced file size is a priority compared to that of the quality of the picture. The format is used for still images, for the shading effect (light and dark), for the real world images etc. It is compatible across most of the platforms including the systems with Mac OS. It is also compatible with most of the web browsers and image editors.

Points to remember about JPEG:

  • The compression algorithm is used to reduce the file size.60%-75% compression is favourable for websites.
  • The term ‘lossy’ is used to represent JPEG because they hold onto all the colour information but compress the size of the file. Compression is done by being picky or choosy about the data to retain while discarding the rest. Hence, the quality of the image is compromised.
  • Apparently, it is the standard file format for most of the digital cameras that are ruling the market.
  • If ever you accidentally deleted a JPEG and JPG files then you might think is it possible to get back jpg and jpeg file. The answer is ‘Yes’.


  • Best choice for smaller file sizes. Therefore, the storage space required will be less and it will also take less time to upload.
  • They are the best choice for vivid colourful images.
  • The JPEG mini compression tool can compress the images up to 5 times without losing the quality.


  • The ‘lossy’ factor.
  • JPEG file format is not good for images with sharp edges.
  • JPEG’S are not the best choice for pictures containing any kind of text.

Fun facts:

  • Mozilla created the mozjpeg format in March 2014.
  • It is beneficial for webpages like Facebook, such that the pages can load faster.
  • The abbreviation is pronounced as ‘jay-peg’.
  • The ‘human eye’ is not capable of seeing or noticing colour details as minutely as it can notice the shades of black & white or dark & light. Hence, some of the colour details are being sacrificed and the picture quality is reduced.

 Moving onto the GIF file format…


GIF was created in the year 1987 by CompuServe. It stands for “Graphics Interchange Format” and the file  extension is .GIF. It is not only the oldest but also the most widely used Web-based Graphic File Format.

Where & When to use GIF?

The GIF file format is used for illustrations, clip arts and icons; mainly places where the block of colours are used. GIFs support animation and are used for simple line drawing or drawings with single colour borders.

Points to remember:

  • The main objective of developing GIF was to transfer images quickly across slow internet connections.
  • They use 256 indexed colours and are used to display indexed colour graphics and images in HTML documents. Therefore, a GIF displays a maximum of 256 colours.
  • GIF’s allows and preserves single bit transparency. This means, certain sections or colours on the GIF can be made transparent. However, the secondary effect of this feature is; the selected colour that has been made transparent will appear transparent on all the places where it is present in the image.


  • Can be interlaced i.e. the GIF provides an interlace option that permits a rough primary version of the image to be displayed before the entire final image is transmitted. It basically follows ‘progressive loading’, showing the low-quality version first and then with the details.
  • GIF’s are the best choice for clip arts and icons.
  • They are also a good option for text messages.
  • Lossless compression.


  • Unable to display the image in its full-colour range.
  • Not the best choice for photographs.
  • It supports only 256 colours from the palette.
  • The file size can be comparatively large than its counterparts.

Fun Facts:

  • The correct pronunciation of GIF is ‘jif’ as stated by the creator Steve Wilhite.
  • GIFs can be animated.
  • Any one colour on the GIF can be transparent.
  • GIFs make use of the dithering process which is two-pixel colours combining with each other to make one in order to reduce the number of colours required.

Last but not the least, PNG….


The PNG file format arrived around the mid-1990’s. PNG is “Portable Network Graphics”.

Now, PNG covers some of the good points of both; the GIF and JPEG file format. The file extension for PNG is .PNG.

There are two types of PNG formats namely, PNG-8 and PNG-24. PNG-8 is similar to the GIF format while PNG-24 is similar to JPEG. Like GIFs, PNG-8 can accommodate at the most 256 colours. The PNG-24 format can display around 16 million colours. One needs to choose according to the requirement.

Where & When to use PNG?

Photographs can be of PNG format if the file size is not an issue. They can be used as Web Images and as Logos. They are also used in places needing transparency and fading. PNGs are used in places of Line art.

Points to remember:

  • The file size of PNG is more than JPEG because of ‘lossless compression’.
  • PNGs can come up with images having uneven edges.
  • They can maintain the original appearance for any background colour.


  • Lossless Compression.
  • It is the best option for images containing texts.
  • File size is comparatively smaller.
  • Appropriate for logo designs


  • Does not support animation like GIF.
  • Not suitable for large sized images.
  • All web browsers especially the older ones do not support PNG files.

 Fun Facts:

  • Pronounced as ‘Ping’! J
  • For PNG files, transparency can be adjusted between opaque and completely transparent. Achieving a faded or a translucent look is possible.

Also learn about Tools to fix corrupted files

Here’s a guide on when to use JPEG, GIF & PNG files. was last modified: December 9th, 2019 by John Harris

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