JPEG Formats: Do You Know Why You Choose The Ones You Do?

  • Once you’ve worked on the file and it is ready to be saved, File>Save As
  • Select JPEG in the Format drop down menu then hit Save
  • The following menu will be shown with the JPEG saving options.

jpeg formats

What Do They Mean?

Most everyone will deduce what the Quality Slider does and how it will affect a photo file, as for the explanation of formats, Adobe’s Acrobat Standard site breaks them down as the following:

Determines how the file is displayed. Available only for JPEG format.
Baseline (Standard)
Displays the image when it has fully downloaded. This JPEG format is recognizable to most web browsers.
Baseline (Optimized)
Optimizes color quality of the image and produces smaller file sizes, but is not supported by all web browsers.
Progressive (3 scans-5 scans)
Downloads the image, first as a low-resolution image, with incremental quality improvements as downloading continues.


What Does that Mean in Real Life?


A lot of this will depend on what the particular file will be used for. In this day digital media, fast loading web pages are often a major consideration. In fact, slow loading web pages is a primary reason users will abandon a site. Other than video, photos and imagery are probably the largest consideration regarding improving a page’s data transfer demands. So, to increase turnover and return ‘visitors/clients’ to your site, you want it running smoothly and fast.

JPEGs are brilliant because they are highly compressed, yet maintain very good quality, and without them the Internet would be a different, and slower place. In case you were unaware, JPEGs essentially are read in a number of scans. With progressive JPEGs, they will store the scans (usually 3 to 5) and each scan increases in quality when being displayed. Some browsers will display them as such, progressively, so when a page is loading the user will see something, even while there is more to load.

Baseline is going to preserve more, as it’s a full resolution top-to-bottom scan of the image. Therefore, when it’s loading, it’s loading the full resolution in more dense blocks. The standard is going to be just that, and Optimized will be somewhat more compressed, smaller file version of that.

Really the choice of what to use comes down to preference. Most often I find people use Baseline Optimized because it’s a mix of both worlds, but personally I would go with progressive even though they make up something around 10% of all JPEGs online.