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How to Compress Photos

Bennett Conlin
Bennett Conlin

There are a few easy ways to compress image files.

  • Image compression isn't hard, and the process can help with computer storage space and branding purposes through the use of quality images that load quickly.
  • You can use photo-editing software or programs like Microsoft Word to compress image files.
  • The process of compressing JPEG images is similar to compressing any other type of image file.

In 2019, using technology is a necessity. Whether you're running a website or using social media, consumers love to see images – no matter which type of device they're using. If a website uses poor image quality or its pages take too long to load because the image files are too big, some consumers will immediately be turned off, while quality images that load quickly can enhance a brand's reputation. Images matter.

The importance of images means your business needs to know the basics of image sizing and editing. You don't need to be a graphic design expert; resizing images and compressing photos is something everyone can easily learn.

What is photo compression?

Photo compression is a process that reduces an image's file size in such a way that it takes up less memory in your computer without messing up the image's quality. It's not an overly complicated process, and it's a good way to save computer memory.

Why compress photos?

Compressing photos saves space on your computer and makes them easier to email or post on the web, as the photos will take up less memory. Compression is a helpful tool, especially if you need to alter an image for your website or a social media post. Considering it's not too difficult to compress photos, there's no reason to shy away from the process due to initial lack of knowledge.

Did you know?Did you know? Image optimization is a best practice for posting images online, and compressing photos to reduce file size is one popular way to optimize images.

How does the photo-compression process work?

Photo compression takes just a few steps and can be done using photo-editing software or a word processor such as Microsoft Word. If you don't know how to compress photos, here are the steps using either type of software. Even small business owners or entrepreneurs who rarely use computers can figure out how to compress image files.

Compressing photos using image-editing software

  1. Open the photo you want to compress in your photo-editing software.
  2. Go to the file menu in your software and choose "Save As" or "Save."
  3. Click "Options" in the popup menu.
  4. Select the "High Compression" option in the Photo Compression section of the menu.
  5. Select "Lossless Encoding" in the Encryption section. This will help to save the integrity of the photo.
  6. Click "OK."
  7. Hit "Save." Your computer will compress the photo and save it.
  8. If you are saving the photo as a JPEG, you may lose quality, so the photo needs to be protected while compressing. Saving your photo in a format other than JPEG – such as TIFF, PNG, GIF or BMP – will help prevent quality loss.

If you are afraid of messing up the original photo, always use "Save As" to create a compressed version that is separate from the original.  Then, if you ever need the original version, you'll have it saved. Image editing can be tricky at times, so it's a good practice to save an original copy should something go wrong during the process. It's never a bad idea to use a duplicate image to make changes.

When it comes to your photo-editing software, there are dozens of quality options on the internet. You can use advanced platforms like Adobe Photoshop or the simplified, less expensive version, Adobe Photoshop Elements, to perform image edits. You can use something free like the GNU Image Manipulation Program, which is better known as GIMP. Paint.NET is another free alternative that tends to be widely regarded by users, and it should be simple enough for even new image-editing users to pick up.

If you'll only use photo-editing software to compress or resize a few images, don't pay for a service like Photoshop when you can use a free option like GIMP or Paint.NET. There's no need to spend additional money for an easy editing task.

TipTip: If you are afraid of messing up the original photo, always use "Save As" to create a compressed version that is separate from the original.  Then, if you ever need the original version, you'll have it saved.

Compressing photos using Microsoft Word

  1. Open Microsoft Word and open a new Word document.
  2. Click on the "Insert" tab on the top left side of the screen.
  3. Choose the picture icon from the list of choices.
  4. A list of files on your computer will pop up. Select the picture file you want to compress by double-clicking on it. The picture will be added to your document.
  5. Click on the picture. Under "Picture Tools," select the "Format" tab. In the "Adjust" group, choose "Compress Pictures."
  6. A popup screen will give you options. Either click "OK" to accept the default resolution or choose the quality of the photo compression by ticking the box beside the option you want and then press "OK."
  7. Save your document and the photo will compress.

If you just want the photo to appear in the document without a lot of white space around it, then you will need to change the size of your document to the size of your photo or as close to the same size as you can get. Here's how:

  1. Go to the "Layout" tab at the top of the Microsoft Word screen.
  2. Click on the "Size" icon from the "Page Setup" group.
  3. Select your custom paper size.
  4. Save your document.

How do you compress a JPEG file?

Whether you're using a JPEG or any other image file, the process to compress the image should remain largely the same, but with JPEG files, you risk losing resolution when you compress images. If the image is large, you can get around that by using Microsoft Paint to resize the image, which should reduce the file size as well.

  1. Open the image in Microsoft Paint.
  2. Select the image and use the resize button. Select whatever image dimensions you like and keep the "maintain aspect ratio" box checked.
  3. Click "OK" and the image will resize.
  4. If you want to crop the image, use the "Select" button to choose the portion of the image you want to keep, then click "Crop."
  5. Save the image.

You can also compress a JPEG file using the other methods we shared above. It depends on your preference and your business's software capabilities. Compressing JPEG images isn't rocket science, and platforms like Photoshop, Word and Paint can all get the job done.

If the images you need to compress are already saved in your smartphone, you can use mobile editing apps like Instasize to compress them. Simply open a photo, edit your image according to your preferences, and later on save the photo back to your phone gallery. The saved image will come in a smaller image file size plus you get to play around with filters, borders, and stylized text in one go.

Image Credit: Gorodenkoff / Getty Images
Bennett Conlin
Bennett Conlin Member
Bennett is a B2B editorial assistant based in New York City. He graduated from James Madison University in 2018 with a degree in business management. During his time in Harrisonburg he worked extensively with The Breeze, JMU’s student-run newspaper. Bennett also worked at the Shenandoah Valley SBDC, where he helped small businesses with a variety of needs ranging from social media marketing to business plan writing.