Digital images fill up our computers, social media sites and web pages. These images, take up several file types. Some may be PNG’s, GIF’s, JPEG’s or several others. However, do you know what these file types are, what they mean, and when you should use them?

Consider the following before uploading or saving a digital image:



The file extension is either “.jpg” or “.jpeg”. The correct pronunciation is “jay-peg“. It stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. The group designed this file format in 1986.

This file system uses a very complex compression algorithm. It is a file system that can reduce the file size, even up to 5 times, without losing its quality. Its compression makes it optimal for website usage. Small file size means less storage space required. It also means quicker uploads.

It is a file system that can display millions of colors at once. The human eye cannot see color details as well as it does dark and light details. JPEG file format therefore sacrifices some color details to save on file space.

It is the standard format for most digital cameras.It is also compatible on many platforms and programs.

Best uses:

Camera photos; still images; complex coloring; shading light and dark materials


pngThe file extension is “.png”. The pronunciation is either “ping” or “P-N-G“. It stands for Portable Network Graphics. The file format was designed in the mid-1990’s as a way around patent issues with the GIF format, including benefits from both JPEG and GIF. The format uses lossless compression, as such no data is lost.

PNG files allow transparency to be set on a scale between completely transparent and opaque. This allows for a faded and translucent look. PNG files can be put on any background and still maintain their original appearance. However, some older browser may not be completely able to support PNG files because of alpha channels.

There are two distinct formats of PNG: PNG-8 and PNG-24.


It is very similar to the GIF file format.It can display 256 colors and 1-bit transparency. PNG-8 files are actually smaller than GIF files, in terms of size.


It is a file format similar to JPEG. It can include and display over 16 million colors. It uses lossless compression and therefore PNG-24 files are larger than JPEG files.

Best Uses:

Displaying web images such as logos that involve transparency and fading; complex images such as photographs if file size is not an issue; images in the middle of editing.



The file extension is “.gif”. The correct pronunciation for this file format has been publicly debated over the years. The creator, Steve Wilhite, stated that the correct pronunciation is “jif“. It stands for Graphics Interchange Format. The format was created by CompuServe in 1987 to transfer images quickly across slow connections.

The file format uses 256 indexed colors. This is through dithering, a process where two pixel colors, combine to make one, in order to reduce the number of colors needed.

Few colors mean that the file can even be smaller than JPEG. Compression does not lose any data.

It can be interlaced. Progressive loading shows a low-quality version first, then better details are added.

The most interesting thing about GIFs is that the file format can be animated.

Best Uses:

Animations; web graphics with few colors; in small icons, simple images (line drawings, single-colored borders, simple cartoons)


Post Author: Mũigai Mũya

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