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How to Lower Image Quality (and Why You’d Want to)

Have you ever been advised to lower the image quality of a photo? Perhaps you’re wondering how to do this or, more importantly, why you’d want to.

Well, I’ll explain everything in this article. While you might find it strange, lowering the quality of your pictures is not as bad as it sounds – at least, not always.

Let’s dive in because there’s a lot to cover.

What Makes an Image Low Quality?

Poor image quality can result from bad exposure, missed focus, and other factors. More often than not, however, when people talk about low-quality images, they mean that they’re low-resolution.

Another common factor that affects the quality is the image compression.

To reduce the file size without changing the resolution or the size of an image, you can often compress your photos too much.

A compressed image may lose quality depending on the compression process used.

What Is the Lowest Resolution Image Quality?

One of the lowest resolutions commonly used in digital photography is 72 dpi.

This resolution is suitable for displaying images digitally on your phone or your computer.

However, if you don’t reduce image size, it may result in pixelated images when you print your file.

Why Would You Want to Lower Image Quality of a Photo or Image?

You’ll always want your photos to look their best to the viewer. However, you may not want them to have the highest resolution every time.

Here are some reasons why you’d want to use a lower-quality file.

To meet the requirements of photo-sharing platforms

How to customize your google chrome browser.

Credit: YouTube

Most photo-sharing websites have a size limit you need to follow to upload your work. This often refers to the image dimensions but also to the image file size.

Even if the picture has the correct dimensions, if the file is too heavy, you may be unable to upload it. Alternatively, the platform’s algorithm will reduce the image file size – often with bad results.

So, before uploading, it’s better if you take care of the image resizing and the image compression yourself. This is always a good practice for social media posts.

To optimize your website

A white button with the word loading on it.

Credit: ConnectedWizard, CC-BY-SA-4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you run your own website, you may not have preset limits around how your images need to be before upload.

However, it’s important to remember that high-quality images take more time to load. This can damage the visitor’s experience (no one likes waiting for slow websites to load!).

That’s why you should reduce the image file sizes before uploading – to make the photos on your website load faster.

To protect your work when sharing it online

A white logo with the words copyright all rights reserved.

Credit: Mike Seyfang, CC-BY-2.0-DEED, via Flickr

Another reason why you might want to reduce image file sizes is to protect your work from copyright infringement.

Yes, if the person wants to download your photo and keep it on their phone and computer, they can still do it.

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However, having a low-quality version of the file, they won’t be able to print it in bigger sizes or sell it.

Also, if you were to engage in a copyright infringement lawsuit, having a higher-quality file than the one the perpetrator has downloaded can help prove that you are the original owner.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a foolproof protection system – but it’s a good start.

Check out our article on copyrighting photos to learn other ways to protect your images online.

To save storage space

An iphone showing the cannot take photo option.

Credit: Vaughan McShane, CC-BY-SA-2.0-DEED, via Flickr

A high-quality photo has a big image file size. Whether you’re thinking about the memory card on your camera, a hard drive, or a cloud storage service – these files will occupy more storage space.

So, if you want to use less space, you can compress images using a different file format.

You can also resize the image or lower the resolution to reduce the file size.

To send them via email

Attaching file in google drive.

Credit: Gmail

You’ve probably noticed that your email account limits the file size you can send in the attachments.

Gmail, for example, has a 25MB file size limit. If you surpass this limit, it will upload the files to Google Drive.

If you want to send multiple images or one high-quality photo, you’ll probably reach that limit very quickly. So, you’ll want to reduce the image’s file size or send a compressed image.

5 Ways to Reduce Image Quality

Now that you know why it’s sometimes a good idea to lower the quality level, here are a few things you can do.

Use Photoshop

Photoshop is one of the most used photo editors on Mac and PC. Here’s how to use it.

Resize Image

Image size in adobe photoshop.

To change the size and resolution of an image, go to Image > Image Size.

Make sure you click Resample Image – otherwise, you’ll only be redistributing the pixels, and the picture file size won’t change.

As you change the Width and Height or the Resolution, you’ll see the new file size at the top, and next to it, you’ll see the original image size.

Export As

A photo editor with a picture of a man and a woman.

Another way to resize and change the type of file is by using File > Export As.

Use Lightroom

Lightroom is another Adobe software commonly used by photographers. You can also use it to reduce image size or as an image compressor.


A photo of a chinese building in lightroom.

You can use the Crop Tool on the Develop Module to change the image size by cutting out pixels.


A screenshot of the settings for adobe acrobat pro.

While exporting your image files out of Lightroom, you can change the image size, format, and quality before clicking Export.


GIMP is a free photo editor which you can use to reduce image files.


Export As

Go to File > Export As. Choose to export as a JPG file and click Export.

Here, you’ll be able to choose the quality.

When you compress images in GIMP, it won’t tell you the file size automatically – you need to select “Show preview in image window.”

Use Microsoft Picture Manager

If you have the Microsoft Office suite, you can use Microsoft Picture Manager to compress images.


You’ll need to add a picture shortcut. Then, select all the images you want to resize.

Next, go to the menu Picture > Resize. Choose one of the predefined sizes or input the dimensions you want. Lastly, click Save.

You can also use it as an image compressor by going to the menu Picture > Compress Pictures.

Use an Online App to Lower Image Quality

A screen shot of the copy image online page.

Credit: IMG2GO

Plenty of online tools allow you to upload and compress images – some are free, and others require a membership. You may also find websites to resize your photos or convert them to a different format.

An excellent online image compressor is IMG2GO. I like it because you can choose between the best quality and smallest file or manually regulate how to balance size and quality.

How to Lower Image Quality on iPhone/Android

A screenshot of the camera settings on an android phone.

There are different methods to lower the quality of an image on your smartphone. Let’s see some of them.

Change the camera settings

The exact steps and the options you’ll have will be different depending on the phone that you own.

However, all of them offer the possibility of changing the picture quality on the camera app. Here’s how I can do it on mine.

  • Launch the camera app.
  • Then, tap on the hamburger menu on the top right.
  • Next, tap on Settings.
  • Lastly, tap on Picture Quality.

This won’t resize your images, only the file size.

Change the file type

Not all smartphone models or camera apps have this feature. However, some give you the choice of file format to save your pictures.

Smartphones most commonly use RAW (DNG on Android and Apple PRORAW on iPhone), JPG, and HEIC/HEIF as their image file types.

Raw files have the highest quality but are larger because they contain more image data.

JPG files have different compression options to balance file size and photo quality. Lastly, HEIF is the smallest image file size but is not always supported.

Also, the image size won’t change in this case – just the picture file size.

Use a photo editing app

A screenshot of a google phone with the settings highlighted.

Snapseed (left and middle screenshots) / Photoshop (right screenshot)

The previous options helped you to capture photos that created smaller image files. However, if you’ve already taken the picture, you can still lower the quality with a photo editing app.

Apps like Photoshop or Snapseed are free to use and available for iPhone and Android devices.

(Here are our picks of the best photo editing apps for iPhone and best photo editing apps for Android.)

On them, you can resize the image and reduce the image file size by choosing a different file format and determining the image compression.

You can find these choices when you Save or Export your photos on the apps.

Why Do Resized Images Lose Quality?

High vs low lighting in a chinese temple.

Let’s say you want to reduce the file size of an image, so you resize it.

If you were to print the original photo and the resized copy at the same print size, the resized one would be lower quality. This is because the original file has more pixels.

So, resizing images doesn’t create quality loss. However, if you want to create larger images from the smaller file, you’ll have low-quality prints.

Does Compression Lower Image Quality?


Image compression doesn’t always result in lower quality.

There are two ways to compress images: lossy compression and lossless compression.

Lossy compression aims to reduce image file size without concern of quality loss. In this case, the smaller the file size, the more you’re losing quality.

Lossless compression will reduce image file size without losing quality. As a result, you’ll have smaller files, but not as small as the ones from lossy compression.

2 Ways to Compress an Image Without Losing Image Quality

If you want a smaller file size without losing quality, here are some things you can do.

Image compression with a lossless format

Compression floppy formats screenshot.

Some file formats support lossless compression. This means that they compress the pictures without losing quality. The most common is the PNG format.

Of course, this solution won’t give you as significant a reduction as a lossy format. That’s why PNG files tend to be bigger than JPG files.

Image resizing

Adobe adobe photoshop cs6 adobe adobe photoshop c.

Most modern cameras produce much bigger images than what we need for everyday use. This creates large files that we can reduce without losing quality.

To resize an image without quality loss, calculate the pixels and resolutions you’ll require.

For example, if I open a Canon 70D raw file in Photoshop, the image size is 114.2MB with dimensions of 5472 px by 3648 px at a 300 ppi resolution.

This equates to 18.24 x 12.26 inches. If I know I will never print it larger than 8×10 inches, I can resize it, and the file size will now be 34MB.

However, if I know I’ll only display it on my computer screen, I can change the PPI to 72, and the file size will be 1.98MB.

This will maintain the quality if I don’t try to enlarge it again.

As a side note, there are also a bunch of incredible tools that help you resize an image up while maintaining quality. Here are the 6 best apps for resizing images without losing quality.

FAQs About Lower Image Quality

Do ND filters lower image quality?

A high-quality ND filter shouldn’t affect the quality of your image. In fact, using an ND filter to achieve the correct exposure so you don’t have to do intense editing will enhance the quality of the final photo.

Does Canva lower image quality?

Canva may compress your image to reduce the file size. This could result in a loss of quality.

Why does Discord lower image quality?

Like any other platform, Discord needs to reduce the file size so the site can load quickly. However, they do try to maintain a good balance between size and quality.

How do I reduce the size of a JPEG image?

To reduce the file size of a JPEG, you can lower the actual image size. This way, you won’t have to apply any further compression. You can do this with most photo editors.

However, you can increase the compression if you want to keep the same image size. Keep in mind that you’ll be losing quality if you do this. You can use a photo editor or an image compressor to do so.

What is the lowest quality photo format?

A lossy format will reduce the quality of a photo – the most common is JPEG. However, you can regulate how much quality it will lose by adjusting the compression.

How do I make something look like a badly compressed JPEG?

A badly compressed image looks pixelated. To achieve this look, you can reduce the file size and then stretch it back – you can do this with a photo editor such as Photoshop.

Otherwise, you can introduce artifacts or apply filters with apps and photo editing software.

How do people make those low-quality “pixelated” video and audio memes?

People use different video editors to create low-quality pixelated memes – for example, Capcut. Simply create the video and lower the quality and fps to the minimum.

You can also use pixel art software to get the look with images.

Is there such a thing as a “Lower Image Quality Maker”?

Yes, that would be an image compressor. You can find many options online or apps to use on your phone.

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