What Does JPEG Stand For and How Does Its Compression Work?

Deyan Georgiev
Deyan Georgiev

Updated · Feb 08, 2023


Techjury is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

You’re certainly familiar with JPEG. If you have photos on your computer or mobile device, chances are, you’re probably looking at a JPEG file

And maybe you’ve wondered what does JPEG stand for

It's pretty easy to get confused with all the image types out there. 

Worry not, as we’ll decipher this acronym and explore its main uses, advantages, and disadvantages. 

So, let’s dive into the world of this file format.

What Does JPEG Stand For?

The JPEG abbreviation stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. A quick web search reveals that this organization created this file format in 1992. It’s also responsible for maintaining JPEG-related standards for digital images

Pretty straightforward, right?

Now that you know what the JPEG acronym means - let's settle some things.

You've probably noticed that most images we see online today are JPEGs. It is, after all, the most popular image format.

But what exactly is a JPEG image, and why is it so common? 

In short, it’s a digital image file extension commonly used for saving images. It's a popular format because of its high quality and manageable size

But why is that?

A JPEG file undergoes compression, reducing file size and lowering image resolution. Compression techniques look for repeated patterns in the data and then replace those with shorter ones. 

But how does this work? Let's go into more detail.

How JPEG Compression Works

JPEGs and some other media formats use a method known as lossy compression. It’s the process of reducing file size by shedding some details - resulting in some image quality loss - a compromise of a sort. 

By contrast, PNG and GIF formats use lossless compression, which involves, as their name implies, no data loss. In this case, the decompressed file is identical to the original.

Lossy compression is the most suitable technique for photographs. Digital cameras compress raw photos as JPEG images to make the files smaller. This allows photographers to snap more pictures.

I know what you're thinking. Isn’t throwing out original info a bad idea?

But here’s the thing.

A photograph contains information that the human eye can't detect. And that's the trick behind the whole process - it only deletes information that nobody cares about.

JPEG compression applies this by allowing the most essential information to transfer. 

The final step of the process is called JPEG encoding, which concludes the reduction process and saves the file as a JPEG.

Knowing now how compression works, let's now explore when best to use JPEG. 


As mentioned, JPEG works best for photos. A JPEG photo can display 16.8 million colors while remaining sizably light. Also, the smaller file size means that it opens faster on most browsers. Compression makes them ideal for quick downloads. That's why it's the go-to format for photographers and web publishers. In contrast, it doesn't work well with text and line drawings. 

JPEG is an excellent format when requiring small files. Some examples of use include:

  • Posting images on websites or blogs,
  • Sending pictures via email or text,
  • Viewing images online,
  • Printing artwork or photos.

With these in mind, let's weigh the pros and cons of the JPEG file extension

Pros and Cons

Like most things in life, JPEG also has advantages and disadvantages. Considering such and knowing your intended use will ensure you make the right choice of picture format.. 


JPEG is arguably the most popular image file format and here's why:

  • Its versatility allows for easy editing,  
  • JPEG pictures are compatible with most apps, browsers, and hardware devices,
  • JPEG is smaller in size, which allows for quick image transfer over the Internet,
  • High definition is another notable plus,
  • JPEG photos have adjustable compression, allowing for image quality control.


It's time to look at JPEG's disadvantages and why some professional photographers opt for the raw image format.

  • Compression degrades image quality, which leads to limited picture depth,
  • Restricted processing control when shooting in JPEG,
  • JPEG doesn’t support transparency or opacity.

With such an overview, you can easily know when to choose JPEG and why.

Wrap Up

We learned quite a few new things, didn't we?

We know what the JPEG format is and many of its primary uses. It works best for digital photos and images. And its predictable quality and manageable size make it highly popular. 

JPEG deserves praise for its flexibility, but it does come at the cost of quality due to its compression process. 

But if you want your site to load quickly, JPEG is the perfect image format.

There isn't only one correct answer when it comes to file types. This is especially true in photography. Some beginner photographers prefer JPEGs because they're easier to edit. 

Lastly and for sure, the most critical detail of this informative article is that you now know the answer to tonight’s trivia game question, what does JPEG stand for?

Cool, right?

Best of luck taking advantage of JPEG’s capabilities.  


What are JPG and JPEG?

There’s no difference between JPG and JPEG. Both acronyms are interchangeable. JPG also stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. The difference comes from the inability of older Windows versions to support file extensions with more than three letters. Today, this is no longer an issue. 

Are iPhone photos JPEG?

Older iPhones store photo files as JPEG. Newer iPhone cameras take pictures in HEIF format. If you want to shoot a JPEG photo, you can change your preferences in the Camera Settings app. 

How do I know if my image is JPEG or PNG?

JPEG is the most common format for digital images. 

If you want to check if a photo is a JPEG or PNG, check the file extension to see if it ends in either jpg or .jpeg or .png.


Deyan Georgiev

Deyan Georgiev

Deyan has been fascinated by technology his whole life. From the first Tetris game all the way to Falcon Heavy. Working for TechJury is like a dream come true, combining both his passions – writing and technology. In his free time (which is pretty scarce, thanks to his three kids), Deyan enjoys traveling and exploring new places. Always with a few chargers and a couple of gadgets in the backpack. He makes mean dizzying Island Paradise cocktails too.

Leave your comment

Your email address will not be published.