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Difference between JPG and JPEG

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between JPG and JPEG image formats we use almost every day? Do you know how to use these file formats in each situation? Well, the confusion between the two file formats has always been there. These file formats associated with digital images have evolved over time, adopting new and improved features to meet up the needs of the modern-day image technology. That being said, JPG and JPEG are the two most commonly file extensions for saving digital images, especially for the images produced by digital photography. Let’s take a closer look at the two file formats.

Difference between JPG and JPEG

What is JPEG?

JPEG is one of the most common image formats proposed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group to save and store digital images. The file format is referred to as the JPEG file interchange format (sort for JIFF) that was created for the sole purpose of storing digital images, particularly the ones used by digital photography. Almost all high-definition digital cameras including modern-day smartphone cameras use JPEG file extension to store image files. It is one of the widely used file extensions as it supports 16,777,216 colors which are produced using 8 bits of each in the RGB color model. It’s able to store 24 bits per pixel capable of displaying more than 16 million colors, allowing better color scheme and contrast resolution. However, it’s not ideal for images with sharp edges.

One downside of JPEG is that it’s a lossy compression algorithm which significantly reduces the size of the file with each compression, which results in degradation of image quality. Like ZIP files exploit the redundancies in files to achieve utmost compression, JPEG does that by removing blocks of pixels or sections of images, thereby reducing image quality. Technically, it compares each pixel with adjacent pixels to adjust the compression ratio which can be anything from 2:1 to as high as 100:1. This results in loss of density in digital photography, making it less appropriate for those trying to make a lot of edits and resaves to the image files. With each save, there’s a slight loss of image quality due to compression. It can be saved with both JPG and JPEG file extensions.

What is JPG?

The older versions of operating systems such as MS DOS could read or recognize file formats with only three characters and the original file extension for the JPEG image files was “.jpeg”. So JPEG got rid of the “E” to comply with the norms of Windows. It’s often used interchangeably with the JPEG. However, Macintosh was never limited to the three character extensions, so using a .jpeg extension has been a common practice for the Mac users. Eventually with more robust and advanced operating systems, Windows began to accept the JPEG extension for image files. So both JPG and JPEG became the standardized file extensions for digital image files. Even the popular image processing applications like Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Paint save all image files with a ‘.jpg’ extension for both Windows and Mac users.

Like JPEG, it’s also a lossy compression technique standardized by the Joint Photographic Experts Group for storing digital image files. It’s the most common file extension used for digital photos followed by PNG, GIF, and TIF. It basically uses two sub-formats, JPG/JFIF which is often used for online images and graphics, and JPG/Exif which is used in digital photography. Most bitmap images are saved with .jpg extensions to compress the files making it easier to download and use them on the World Wide Web. As it uses a lossy compression algorithm, the image quality degrades as file size decreases. The higher the compression rate, the more the image quality is affected, and the faster the image loads for a better user experience. However, they can withstand up to 15 percent size loss without degrading image quality.

Difference between JPG and JPEG

  1. Operating System of JPG and JPEG

    – The previous versions of operating systems such as MS DOS and Windows could only read three letter extensions for image file formats so the Joint Photographic Experts Group ditched the word “E” from JPEG to use JPG. However, there’s no such limitation in Macintosh. So JPEG is a common file format among Mac users.

  2. Number of Characters

    – Both JPG and JPEG are often used interchangeably because they are virtually same and developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group, however, the main difference between the two is the number of characters used in each file extension. Both are a little distinct file extensions with some association with JPEG-handling.

  3. File Size of JPG and JPEG

    – The size of the image files with JPEG extension is comparatively less because of the lossy compression algorithm which results in a significant data loss. On the contrary, JPG makes the most out of the compression method to preserve the image quality with less data redundancy

  4. Image Applications of JPG and JPEG

    – Most of the image editing and processing applications such as Microsoft Paint and Adobe Photoshop use “.jpg” extension for saving all the JPEG image files for both Mac and Windows users. Both the file formats are ideal for digital photography with perfect variations of tones and colors such as art paintings.

JPG vs. JPEG: Comparison Chart



It’s a common file format for lossy graphics used for digital images after PNG and GIF. It’s a compression algorithm that can be used for multiple file extensions.
It preserves the image quality with less data redundancy after compression. Image quality is reduced significantly as a result of compression with reduced file size.
It’s used in the previous versions of Windows due to the limitation of three-letter extension. Mac supports longer extensions such as “.jpeg”. Mac was not limited to three file extension system.
It takes up relatively more space than JPEG which keeps the quality of the images intact for online applications. It takes up only a few megabytes of data due to compression.

Summary of JPG and JPEG

Both JPG and JPEG are the most common file extensions used by Windows as well as Mac users to store and save digital images, particularly the ones used for digital photography. They both are frequently used image formats proposed and supported by a consortium of independent experts that develops the standard for a set of compression algorithms for digital images, the Joint Photographic Experts Group (short for JPEG). It’s a compression algorithm designed to reduce the size of larger image files without any degradation in image quality. Both are technically the same thing but with a slight exception of the number of characters used in each file extension.

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References :

[0]Pennebaker, William and Joan Mitchell. JPEG: Still Image Data Compression Standard. Berlin: Springer, 1992. Print

[1]Miano, John. The JPEG and Image Data Compression Algorithms. Boston: Addison-Wesley, 1999. Print

[2]Kelby, Scott. The Digital Photography Book. Berkeley: Peachpit Press, 2009. Print

[3]"Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jpeg2000_wikibooks_img1.jpg"

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