As I was editing this afternoon and editing/saving all of my RAW files to JPEG files in Adobe Photoshop, I felt a little foolish.  I’ve been saving my JPEG files into formats that I really don’t know a lot about.  So tonight I “geeked out” to truly understand just what type of jpeg format was best for me.

The Options

When you save your JPEG file in Photoshop, a box will pop up before saving.

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 12.10.58 AM

Adobe’s help center describes “Format” as how the file is displayed online, but only in JPEG format.  It also explained a little more in detail each format option.

  • 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 (2 to 8%) 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.

Which Option to Use?

After reading more into it,  “Baseline Optimized” might slightly reduce the file size but uploads slightly faster which is a plus in a visual industry such as photography.  The only negative is that it isn’t compatible with viewers using old technology, but I would hope that my colleagues and potential clients are up to speed with the latest web browsers.  “Optimized” will also likely produce better colors but it isn’t necessarily that noticeable to the eye.

“Progressive” reminds me of the old days of painfully slow browsers when photos loaded on a page of series of lines, so I choose to avoid that option.

So what is my choice? I’ve decided that both Standard and Optimized are fine options, it might just be a matter of choice, or in my case…habit.  Thus, Baseline (Optimized) wins my vote.

What do you think?  Have you had success with one over the other?  Let me know in the comments below.


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Join the conversation! 13 Comments

  1. Never really thought about this – thanks for discussing it.

  2. I have always just saved as Baseline (Standard) I did however ask myself the same question just yesterday, Why I choose Standard not knowing what the others did but I decided to stay with Standard.

  3. I always use “Baseline Standard” and 12 setting…as a JPG… I have no need to save a ORF RAW as a Tiff or PSD file.. JPG is fine.
    I will reduce them in FastStone Image Resizer later to bring then to a 10mb file for upload.
    Where I have a lot for options for Image Quality in the reduced file.

  4. How about a few words about the other box…Image Options? I normally save at the highest level, 12, but again, without giving it much thought.

  5. I’m sharing this! I never though about this at all!

  6. Reblogged this on Blueberries and Bokeh and commented:
    I don’t normally reblog things, I really felt that this was very important! I hope you wonderful readers of mine will find this article very helpful!

  7. Thanks for the info, I understood the quality slider but always wondered about the three radio button selections!

  8. In this age of cable and T1 connections, I’m not really sure that you will gain too much going one way or another. As a web developer myself, I would actually urge you to skip this process for uploads and use the Save For Web feature instead. A little more control over the size and optimizations you can dial in, plus the compression algorithms are designed to bring down file size to a more web-compatible level.

    • Absolutely… for WEBSITE use the answer from Michael is correct and more optimal. Also speed of download is improved from compression and removal or redundant data in the image. ( srvcs like Smush,it ) Image geeks know what I am referring to without getting too technical. Excellent post by the way!!!

  9. I fully concur with @Michael Vujovic. He is spot on.
    Kudos though for bringing to light an often glossed over topic.

  10. I just save a character design with NO anti-aliasing, just pure black line work and solid flat colors, no gradations or shading – BASELINE STANDARD = 12 megabytes, however, BASELINE OPTIMIZED = 5 megabytes!!

    That is a 60% reduction. WOW.

    There are large areas of white around the figures. Pretty weird, huh?

    Great article, by the way. Little choices can make a huge difference, no doubt…

  11. All great info however do we not prefer best print possible? I am looking up witch is best for a client of mine making 3×4.5ft posters shot in Raw toucheup then saved to as large as possible but they keep comming out grainy. Will also ask him for his printers ph# and ask the horse themself. Thanks n great forum.

  12. i appreciate your clear, simple explanation.


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About MelissaNiu

Melissa Niu is a storyteller at heart. Niu's work ranges from her Broadcast Journalism experience at NBC in Seattle to her recent work as a co-founder and host of the photography platform, [FRAMED] Network. Her passion for photography, music and journalistic skills harvests into a massive need to tell a good story. As a mother of three daughters and running multiple businesses, Niu is constantly seeking balance, health, laughter and progression.


Adobe, Opinion, Software, Technique & Tutorials


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