3 Ways to Tell if a PNG Is Real

One of the primary reasons PNG files are used extensively with graphics, logos, and icons, especially on the web, is transparency. Being able to overlay any image on an existing background on a website or social media platform creates a seamless, professional look. Unfortunately, not all internet images that claim transparency are true PNG files.

So, how do you spot the fake and protect yourself from time wasted scrolling through images on Google? It may be a challenge to tell right off the bat, and figuring it out might require some investigation. Luckily, the work has been done for you. Keep reading for ways to tell if a PNG is real.

3 Ways to Ensure Your PNG File Is Real

There are many convincing fake PNGs on the internet. If you’re working on a personal project or scouring the web for images to use at work, you don’t have the time or energy to deal with fake after fake. Fortunately, this file format has distinct characteristics that will tip you off if it isn’t real.

1. Transparent or Checkered Background

When you save a PNG image to your desktop and open it in a design application like Photoshop, you will see a checkered background. A checkered background represents transparency—it is not the image’s true background.

If you open the image and the checkered background is attached to the image and separate from the checkered background that Photoshop shows to represent transparency, it is very likely it is not a true PNG.

If you don’t want to spend the time-saving images and opening them in a design program to see if the transparent background is real, then adjust your search engine to isolate real PNGs. For example, if you are using Google search, you would type in the image name, followed by PNG, then click on “Images.”

After taking you to the images, look for the “Tool” option right under the search bar. It will open up a sub-menu where you will find “Color.” Select “Transparent” in the “Color” drop-down menu.

2. File Extension

It seems like a no-brainer to tell you to look at the image’s file extension and make sure it’s title.png. Taking the file extension concept a step further, there is a way to isolate this file extension in your search engine. Again using Google as an example, you can type in the command filetype: png (search word). The command will isolate the .png extension and only show you these results.

Let’s say you have a .png image, but you’re still not sure it’s real. There is a quick and easy way to figure this out. Open the picture in a text editor. If it’s a true PNG, the first four letters of the script you will see will be ‰PNG. If not, you may see ÿØÿà as the first four letters, and that would be a JPEG image.

3. File Metadata

Not all devices will tell you the file extension when you save an image off the internet, so the only way to know if an image is a PNG is by looking at the image metadata. There are ways to do this with both a tablet or iPad and an android or iPhone.

Using an iPad or iPhone, you would go to your “Photos” app and find the image. Hold down the image until a menu appears and click “Share.” In the “Share” menu, click on “Save to Files.” Save it to your iPhone or iPad, and open up your “Files” app. Locate the photo, hold it down until a menu appears, and click on “Get Info.” The properties or metadata of the image will appear, and the file type will show there.

Where Can I Find PNG Images?

If you want it made as easy as possible to get a true PNG image, you can opt for stock photo websites specific to PNGs or have the PNG file format as an option among its catalog of images. If you’re creating a graphic or logo for your brand and need to design it and save it as a PNG, you can use a design application or website.

Here is a list of five reliable websites that offer PNG images:

  1. Placeit.net
  2. Pixabay
  3. PNG Pix
  4. Pixel Squid
  5. PNGAll

One of these design or stock photo websites will be sure to provide you with the PNG image you need or give you the ability to create your own.

How to Convert an Image Into a PNG

You may have found the perfect image on the internet, and you thought it was a PNG, but once you looked at the file extension or the image metadata discovered that it was another file type.

Fortunately, you don’t have to give up the image if you need it to be a PNG. You just need to convert the image using either an image viewing program on your computer or an image conversion site on the internet. You could also use a template for a logo or icon on Placeit.net, all of which are available in PNG format.

For the sake of consistency, we’ll use a design program like Photoshop to show you how easy it is to convert an image into a PNG. Let’s say you need the transparency of the PNG for your JPEG photo. Use the “Quick Selection” tool and select around your image, then add it to a layer mask. Once you’ve done that, you will export the file using the following sequence: File> Export> Export As. Change the format to PNG, check the box for transparency and hit “Export.”


You don’t have to be bogged down by fakes floating around the web. You have ways to find out if your image is a real PNG, places you can find or design real PNG images, and a way to convert any photo into a PNG. All in all, you are set to tackle any project, whether personal or business.