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Learn how and when to use the JPEG image file

by Casey Schmidt  |  January 14, 2020

4 min. read
A screenshot of the JPEG logo.

The JPEG image file is one of the most popular image extensions. It’s valuable to understand the potential advantages and disadvantages, as well as how to open and convert it. The more familiar you become with this file format, the better you’ll be at handling it in important situations. Here is an easy-to-understand breakdown of the JPEG image file.

What is a JPEG image?

The JPEG is a digital image file extension given its acronym from Joint Photographic Experts Group. It is a popularized file type due to its high standard of quality and easily downloadable size. JPEG files undergo compression which keeps sizes manageable but lowers the resolution of the image. This type of compression is called lossy, since it indicates a loss in file quality.

Who benefits from using the JPEG?

Companies who work closely with photographers benefit greatly from the JPEG. This is because most digital cameras use JPEG extensions as a standard. Chances are, when a photographer shares a set of image files with a company, there will be a diverse and abundant quantity. Ultimately, using the JPEG reduces the potential requirement to convert a large quantity of images from photographers throughout projects.

An illustration of a photographer taking a picture of a train.
Photographers utilize the JPEG a lot.

Businesses love the JPEG extension due to its small size, as building an image library is difficult when managing drive space. On top of this, using the JPEG as a general standard streamlines workflows and pleases most clients due to its popularity and ease-of-use. Individuals who want an accessible image file that doesn’t require extensive third-party programs to edit or open like the file type as well.

How do I open a JPEG?

Common programs open the JPEG but there are a few third-party solutions if necessary. The easiest way to open them is by using Microsoft Paint, Microsoft Photos and Preview (MAC). The most direct route is to locate the file on your computer, then double-click it. This will open it using the default image viewer of your computer. This applies to both the Mac and Windows operating systems.

The alternative methods are typically reserved for users who wish to do some heavy editing to the file. However, some users open their JPEGs in these systems no matter what they plan on executing. The most popular third-party program to open a JPEG is probably Photoshop by Adobe. Photoshop lets you view or edit a JPEG with a lot of different, unique tools that other systems don’t offer.

How do I convert a JPEG?

When you need to convert your JPEG to a different image extension, you’ll be able to do so without downloading third-party software – here’s how:

  1. Open the JPEG image file using Microsoft Paint
  2. Under the ‘File’ menu, select ‘Save As’
  3. Under ‘Save as type’, select the new extension (PNG, BMP, etc.)
A screenshot of the 'Save as' feature in Microsoft Paint.
Use the ‘Save as’ feature in Paint to convert your JPEG file.

Further considerations

Now that you have a strong understanding of the basics, here are some common questions and considerations to review:

Is JPEG the same as JPG?

Yes, the JPEG is the exact same file type as the JPEG. The only difference is in name. As both file types were created by Joint Photographic Experts Group, they behave similarly. The difference was a result of naming differences due to character limitations.

When to use a different image type

Similar to all image file types, there are times when an alternative is necessary. For some projects, JPEG doesn’t meet the resolution and quality requirements. Even though JPEG files handle higher quality graphics, there will be times they don’t measure up with other extensions.

A screenshot of the JPEG image file type.
Sometimes you’ll need a different image file type.

Customizable compression

A lesser-known idea of JPEG is its customizable compression. This allows users to input their ideal compression sizes and restrictions. Custom compression is a huge benefit to website builders, as it ensures correct sizes for each page.

The JPEG bends to the whims of organizations and users, making it a strong image file choice. Make sure you know when the situation warrants the use of JPEG file types. Consider all the different factors that might go into your next project before determining whether a JPEG is the right format to utilize.