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What Is a JPG File: Understanding the Format
What Is a JPG File: Understanding the Format

What Is a JPG File: Understanding the Format

by Alexa Davis
Apr 4, 2024

In today's digital world, pictures are everywhere - on phones, computers, and the internet. Understanding the basics of image formats is important, and one of the most common types is JPG. But what exactly is a JPG file, and why is it so widely used?

In this article, we'll explain the format, unraveling its origins, characteristics, and significance. Whether you're a seasoned photographer or simply someone curious about the technology behind the images you share daily, come along as we explore the ins and outs of JPG files.

JPG meaning

JPG, short for Joint Photographic Experts Group, is a digital file format. It's commonly used for photos and other complex images on the internet and in digital photography.

Files stored in this format might have two different extensions - .jpg or .jpeg. However, there's no functional difference between JPG and JPEG - they represent the same format and are used interchangeably.

  • The difference in the file extension is largely due to historical variations in naming conventions across different operating systems and software.


The format has its origins in the late 1980s, developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group, a committee that created standards for image compression. The need for a standardized image format arose with the increasing popularity of digital photography and the internet.

In 1992, the first version of the JPG standard was published, introducing a revolutionary method for compressing digital photos. This method allowed for a significant reduction in file size while maintaining relatively high quality, making it ideal for storing and sharing.

The JPG format quickly gained widespread adoption due to its compression algorithms and compatibility with a wide range of software and devices.

Today, it remains one of the most popular formats on the internet, powering countless websites, social media platforms, and digital archives.

When to use JPG format?

JPG files are a popular format for storing images. They make it easy to share photos and other images over the internet. Many cameras also store images as JPGs by default. But when should you save an image as a JPG file?

  • Web usage. JPG is ideal for online usage due to its efficient compression, which helps reduce loading times for web pages.
  • Digital photography. When storing photographs digitally, JPG is a popular choice as it allows for reasonable image quality with manageable file sizes. This makes it suitable for storing large collections of photos on devices or cloud storage.
  • Social media. Many social media platforms prefer JPG format for image uploads due to its compatibility and smaller file sizes. This helps speed up the uploading process.
  • Email attachments. When sending images via email, using JPG format can help reduce the size of attachments, making it easier to send multiple images in a single email.
  • Presentations and documents. JPG images are often used in presentations, documents, and slideshows where a balance between image quality and file size is necessary to ensure smooth playback or distribution.

In general, if you're not sure what format to use - convert files to JPG! It's the most well-known image format for sharing online, so it will work with almost any device required to view your photos.

How to convert JPG?

While the JPG (or JPEG) file format holds a prominent place among the world's image formats, converting it to other formats may be necessary or advantageous for several reasons.

  • Some formats, such as PNG or TIFF, support lossless compression, which retains the original quality without degradation.
  • Different image formats offer unique features. For example, GIF files support animation, PNG files support transparency, and TIFF files support multiple layers.
  • In some cases, specific file formats may be required to comply with legal or regulatory standards. Certain industries may mandate the use of PDF/A formats for document archiving.

If you open a JPG in the Windows Photos app, you can edit it and save it as a PNG file.

To convert JPG to PDF, you can follow these steps:

  1. Open your web browser and navigate to the free JPG to PDF converter.
  2. Click the "Add file(s)" button or drag and drop your JPG images into the designated area.
  3. Adjust settings such as page orientation, margins, and page size using the provided options.
  4. Press the "Convert" button to initiate the process.
  5. Once the conversion is complete, save the converted PDF file to your device.


With PDF Candy, you can also convert PNG, BMP, and even TIFF to PDF files in just a couple of mouse clicks free of charge. This might be handy if you have multiple images of various formats.

If you need another format, use specialized image editing software:

  1. Launch your preferred photo editor (e.g., Adobe Photoshop, GIMP, or Paint).
  2. Open the JPG file you want to convert.
  3. Go to the "File" menu and choose "Save As" or "Export".
  4. Select the desired file format (e.g., PNG, GIF, or TIFF).
  5. Adjust any settings if necessary (e.g., compression level or color depth).
  6. Click "Save" or "Export" to convert and store the file in the new format.

Image conversion

Benefits of JPG file type

The JPG has become the most common image format worldwide. People are able to capture JPGs with digital cameras and smartphones, create graphics with the software, upload these pictures to social media, share them on an email, and more.

JPG format has many advantages:

  • These images offer high resolution. The JPG format supports 24-bit color (which includes as many as 16 million different colors). This is why JPG photos have been used for encoding and compressing digital images with a high resolution.
  • JPEG file sizes are smaller. If you think of JPG to PNG or BMP comparison, the JPGs will be relatively more compact in size. This makes it much more suitable for distributing online or storing.
  • It’s actually possible to adjust how much compression a particular JPG file has. You can choose the proper balance between file size and image quality.

What are the limitations of a JPG file?

JPGs are prevalent for digital images, but they have some disadvantages.

  • JPG images compress data by discarding information as part of the compression process. This can lead to visible artifacts in the resulting image, such as blurriness or pixelation.
  • JPG files also don't support layers or transparency. If you're working with an image that needs to be layered or layered with transparency, you'll need to use a different format for example PNG or TIFF.


FeatureJPGBMP (Bitmap)
File extension.jpg, .jpeg.bmp
QualityGood quality with smaller file sizesHigh quality but larger file sizes
TransparencyDoesn't support transparencyDoes not support transparency
Color depth24-bit (16 million colors)Variable, commonly 24-bit (16 million colors)
UsageIdeal for web usage, digital photography, social mediaSuitable for high-quality prints, artwork, and graphic design
File sizeSmaller compared to BMPLarger compared to JPG


File extension.jpg, .jpeg.tif, .tiff
QualityGood quality with small file sizesExcellent quality with a larger file size
TransparencyDoesn't support transparencySupports transparency
Color depth24-bit (16 million colors)Variable, commonly 24-bit (16 million colors)
UsagePerfect for online sharing, digital photography, and social mediaSuitable for printing, archival purposes, and professional editing
File sizeSmaller compared to TIFFLarger compared to JPG


File extension.jpg, .jpeg.png
QualityGreat quality with a smaller file sizeExcellent quality with larger file sizes
TransparencyDoes not support transparencySupports transparency
Color depth24-bit (16 million colors)24-bit (16 million colors)
UsageIdeal for web usage, digital photography, social mediaSuitable for images with transparency, such as logos, icons, and graphics
File sizeSmaller compared to PNGLarger compared to JPG

Overall, the JPG file type is great for storing digital photos. However, it comes with certain limitations that should be taken into consideration before using a JPG image for a project.

How to open JPG files?

We've answered the "What is a JPG file" question, let's now move on to the next one.

Opening a JPEG file is straightforward. It does depend on the device you’re using. As long as you’re familiar with your device and operating system, you shouldn’t find this difficult at all.

  • Windows opens JPG files with the Photos app. Alternatively, right-click on the JPG image, select "Open With", and choose an alternative option.
  • By default, macOS opens JPG images with the Preview application. If you prefer using third-party apps, you can download and install image viewer applications from the App Store or other sources.

How to edit a JPG file?

To edit a JPEG file, you can use a number of different programs such as those mentioned above, depending on what you want to modify.

The Photos app on Windows has basic editing features like cropping, resizing, and rotating. You can also make lighting adjustments, add filters, flip, straighten the image, and change the aspect ratio.

You can also use image editing software like Adobe Photoshop or GIMP. These programs provide a wide range of tools for editing JPG images, including color adjustments, adding text, applying filters, and more.


JPG file type: Tips

  1. When saving JPG files, consider the balance between quality and file size. Higher quality results in larger sizes, while lower settings reduce file size but may compromise image quality.
  2. JPG format uses lossy compression, which means some data is discarded to reduce file size. Be mindful of excessive compression, as it can cause visible artifacts and degradation of image quality.
  3. When editing JPG images, consider working on a copy rather than the original file. This preserves the photo and allows you to revert to the original if needed.
  4. JPG files can store metadata such as EXIF data, which contains information about the camera settings and other details. Be aware of privacy implications when sharing JPGs containing metadata.
  5. Be aware of color profiles when working with JPG files, especially for print or professional purposes. Ensure that color profiles are correctly embedded or converted as needed to maintain accuracy.


Today we covered the topic of what is a JPG file and how to work with it. Despite being a universal format for transmitting images, JPG or JPEG still doesn’t cover all the needs.

It is easy to work with, but sometimes PDF is all takes to make your files comprehensive for everyone. Today we learned how to turn your JPG file to PDF, and you can use these tips to ease your life a bit.

Discover more tools

  • Sometimes you need to change the PDF format, try the "Resize PDF" tool and choose between A4, A5, A3, or the US letter templates.
  • Add a password to your PDF file to keep the information safe with our "Protect PDF" option.
  • Check out "PNG to PDF" to convert directly without first converting PNG to JPG.

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