Why Are PNG Files Bigger Than JPEG Files?

Have you ever noticed that PNG image files are significantly larger than JPEGs? Why exactly is there such a discrepancy and which one leads to better quality? 

PNG files are bigger than JPEGs because they are not compressed in the same way. JPEGs use what is called DCT compression. This leads to some loss in the quality of the image. PNG’s on the other hand, use LZW compression. This form of compression is lossless and results in a better image. 

If you’d like to get the most out of your image files, you’ve come to the right place. In our guide below, we will first go over why PNGs take up more space than JPEGs, then we will break down everything else you would want to know about these formats. We’ll even let you know how you can reduce the size of your PNG files if you need to. So come along and let’s dive right in!

What Do PNG and JPEG Stand For?

Before we jump into why PNG files are bigger, it would be a good idea to get an understanding of what these file types are in the first place. 

PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics. It is one of the most common image file types used on the internet. 

JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. The name is based on the group that created it back in 1986. These files are perhaps the most common online because of the space they save. 

Does PNG Take More Space Than JPEG?

If you have the same image but one is a PNG file and the other is a JPEG, the PNG file will almost certainly take up more space. At the same time, it will have a higher quality because of the lossless compression PNG files go through. JPEGs, on the other hand, do not have lossless compression.

Lossless compression simply means that the file is compressed without any loss in quality. If an image–like a JPEG–doesn’t have lossless compression it will therefore lose a little bit of its quality to save space. 

Why Are PNGs So Large?

Putting this all together, PNGs are so large because they are of a higher quality. If quality is what matters to you, then you should go with a PNG over a JPEG every time. 

How Do I Reduce the Size of a PNG?

Let’s say you’ve got a PNG image file that is just taking up too much space on your hard drive. Can you reduce its size, and if you can, how do you do it?

In order to reduce the size of a PNG, you will either need to convert it into another format, or use a compression tool to compress it. There are loads of free software and websites online that have these tools readily available. 

With most of these sites–including the ones we linked above–it’s as simple as dragging the file in and dropping it to get started. If you’re converting it, JPEG would be a great option for reduced size. If you’re further compressing it–which in a way is also converting it–the process is the same. Drag, drop, hit the convert button and you’re all set. Easy peasy. 

Which is Better: PNGs or JPEGs?

This isn’t really a fair question because which one is better is largely contextual based on your individual needs. 

If you don’t mind a minor drop in quality because saving space on your hard drive is important to you, or because you don’t really need a super high definition image, then JPEG is the way to go. If the image quality is really important for what you’re doing and you’ve got some extra space, definitely go with the PNG. 

We should note here that if you’re planning to professionally print the image, the calculation on which type is better may change. PNG files do not support non-RGB color spaces. These are colors like cyan and magenta. 

If you’re doing professional prints you may want to avoid both PNGs and JPEGs and go with TIFF (Tag Image File Format). 

So Really, Why Are PNG Files Bigger Than JPEGs?

The bottom line is PNG files are bigger than JPEGs because they are compressed in a lossless way. There is no loss in quality when you save and open these files. JPEGs on the other hand, do lose some quality in the compression process. 

If you have a PNG file you need to make smaller, the best way would be to run it through a file converter. That will reduce the quality a little bit, but it will save a lot of space on your hard drive.