How to Size Images for Online Sharing


Whether you’re running a photography business, or sharing your photography on the web with friends, it’s important to know how to properly size your images for various uses. Generally speaking the smallest size you can share, while still retaining enough quality for the viewer to appreciate the photograph, is what you’ll want to aim for, but let’s dive into this with a bit more detail.

First rule – use the sRGB Color Space for anything going on the web

Before you even think about sizing an image for the web, you’re going to need to make sure that you’re using the correct color space. The web is standardized on the sRGB color space, which means that if you want your photography to appear accurately across the web, that’s the color space you need to use when you save your image.

Take a look at this side by side comparison of the same photograph, saved directly from Lightroom, using the sRGB color space versus the AdobeRGB color space.





You’ll notice that the AdobeRGB color space appears slightly more muted in terms of color and it has a slightly more greenish tint when compared to the sRGB image.

Second rule – Smaller size over image quality

Even in this world of high resolution monitors, it’s still the best practice to use smaller sizes when sharing images on the web.

Here at dPS, images in the articles are sized to be 750 pixels on their longest side at an overall size of around 200kb. The reason you want to reduce the size of your images for use on the web is primarily to improve the user experience for your readers. The more data a webpage has to load, the longer it will take for the reader to be able to see content.

Social media and dedicated portfolio sites, like Smugmug or Zenfolio, are the exception to this rule as they have optimized their backends to handle large image files when necessary, and actually require the full size image for printing purposes.

How to size your images?

Knowing why to size your images is only the first piece to the puzzle, now it’s time to learn how to size your images. This article will show you two ways to size images, one with Lightroom and another with Photoshop, as they are the two most commonly used pieces of software among dPS readers.

How to size an image in Lightroom

The best thing to do with Lightroom is to set up an export preset specific for your needs. Once this preset is set up, all you’ll have to do is select it, and everything will be done for you.

Step 1: Select any photograph and right click. Navigate to Export and select Export from the fly out menu.


Step 2: In the box that opens, after selecting your Export Location and File Naming options, you’ll want to navigate to the File Settings and Image Sizing sections.

In the File Settings Section: Make sure that Image Format is set to JPEG, and that Color Space is sRGB. You can choose to limit the file to a specific siz,e if this matters to you, but know that too much size reduction can result in noticeable quality loss of an image.


In the Image Sizing Section: You’ll want to check “Resize to Fit” and make sure that the drop down is set to Long Edge. Check the box “Don’t Enlarge” which will mean that any time you export an image smaller than your “Long Edge” setting, it won’t stretch the to fit that dimension. Finally, you’ll need to pick what size you want your image to be – here it’s set to 750px and 72 pixels per inch which is what we use at dPS.

To save this as a preset that you can use over and over again, click on the “Add” button in the lower left corner, and name your preset when the dialogue box opens.


Now, whenever you want to export a photograph to the web, all you have to do is right click on the image you wish to export, and navigate to the preset you’ve just created. Super easy!

How to size images with Photoshop

When you want to save your images for the web with Photoshop, the best option is to use Photoshop’s “Save for Web” tool. This will let you choose from various file types (in most cases you’ll want JPEG), and also allow you to convert the image to the all important sRGB color space.


To find the Save for Web option you’ll want to navigate to File > Export > Save for Web

Once you select this option a new window will open, providing you with a number of options for exporting your image from Photoshop. Here you’ll want to make sure that “Convert to sRGB” is checked, and that your file format is set to JPEG. Sizing can be done by picking a width or height, and as long as the two are connected with the link symbol, Photoshop will calculate the other’s value based on the one you input and maintain the image proportions accurately.

The most important part about saving photographs for use on the web is getting the color space correct, and realizing that people browsing photographs on the web are often doing so on smaller screens, with limited time on their hands. Fast load times not only improve your user’s experience, but they also will reflect favorably on Google’s search engine’s algorithm which is used to determine if your content is worthy of being shown to people searching Google for answers.

How do you size your images for online use? Please share in the comments below.

Read more from our Post Production category

John Davenport is the creator of PhoGro - Gro' Your Photography a community that aims to help you grow your photography through engagement with other photographers. John also offers a free email course 6 Weeks to Better Photos that covers the most important elements for getting started with photography.

  • David Woods

    In the above example you have the JPEG quality set to 100. Isn’t that a bit of an overkill especially if file size is what you’re going after? I always do 80 or less for web use.

  • pat.

    I’m sharing this one with hubby. Lots of great info. Thanks.

  • Howard Pepper

    I share my JPEG images on the web (facebook, Twitter, Google+, Flickr) all the time. My rule of thumb is no more than 2048 pixels on the long side. We are in the age of high speed Internet (what ever that truly is), not dial-up. We no longer have to make our photos sized for dial-up download speeds. There is nothing quite as aggravating as not being able to see the details of an image on the web, then trying to make it full screen so you can see it, only to find out that it is still too small.

    Also, I use the command line program “mogrify”, which comes with the ImageMagick suite, to resize my photos. It’s simple, works great, and is easily scriptable.

  • I agree. I was about to post the question to John. At what point do we start ignoring 10 year old advice and update the recommendations? I’m sure there are people in some small town in Kansas still on dialup but are those the people we should be designing our web sites for? Perhaps we should design for the millions of Netflix customers who are streaming HD video to their desktops.

  • Are the same rules for “500 px”. Thank you.

  • Covered in the article…”Social media and dedicated portfolio sites, like Smugmug or Zenfolio, are the exception to this rule as they have optimized their backends to handle large image files when necessary, and actually require the full size image for printing purposes.”

  • One point I want to make about the web is that most people browsing the web are doing so on monitors with resolutions of 1920×1080. Sure 4k is starting to become a thing, but they are the minority. This means that your 2048 px images won’t even fit full screen on “most” monitors.

    On top of that – most people browse the web in a windowed browser. This means that the available screen space for your image is reduced even further – making it even more unnecessary to have a large image file on the web.

    The final consideration is that download speed of the end user is only part of the issue – your web’s server’s speed/storage is another issue. Most shared hosts claim “unlimited” bandwidth as a marketing tactic, but this is rarely true and your site will crash or be throttled if it pulls too much data. More robust servers are expensive and every bit of storage/bandwidth matters making it more important to upload the smallest size that’ll get the point across.

    Of course, as I mentioned in the article, if you’re using social media (i.e. Facebook, 500px, flickr or portfolio sites like Smumug or Zenfolio) then you can disregard this last point as their servers will be able to handle the burden.

  • It’s not just about the speed of the person who’s viewing your image that matters, but the speed of the server on which you host your images. Shared servers, the one’s you get from GoDaddy, Blue Host etc. for $100/year simply don’t have the power to handle serving large images to a number of people around the world. Sure it’ll work fine if you get a handful of views a day, but if you’re running a popular site then these large images will quickly eat up your bandwidth as thousands of people try and download them at the same time.

    Sites like Facebook, Netflix, Flickr and 500px all have warehouses of server farms that they spend millions of dollars a year on to make sure their servers are not the bottleneck – unfortunately most people can’t do this.

  • Vincent Cascio

    If you are watching what sells in the tech stores you might notice that tablets are really a big item. When posting large photos on the web the tablet users won’t wait for the image to load. Most tablets are wifi and big images are just not going to make it very fast.
    Just my thoughts.

  • Good point – mobile devices themselves (even those with HD and UHD displays) are more about fast browsing than detailed viewing. Smaller sizes will load faster resulting in better performance on mobile making the small trade-offs in quality worth it in the long run.

  • Michael

    When I upload my JPEG images to a printing lab site, I make sure my images are in full resolution (not 72 px/inch) but at least 240 px/inch and the file size is reduced to no less than 3 MB. However, color space must be sRGB. That’s why my delivers very high quality prints to me. I read somewhere that some printing lab can print images in Adobe RGB or even ProPhoto RGB. The latest 2 are 16 bit per channel color profiles that are much more superior to only 8 bit sRGB.

  • Yes you have to ask your lab what color space they use. Most pro labs here in Canada can and do use Adobe RGB, I’ve found most of the US ones use sRGB – so best to ask.

  • Michael

    Thank you Darlene! I can imagine the prices of that printing are very expensive.

  • No not really. No more than the American labs.

  • dude II

    GoDaddy/Blue Host/Rackspace do use server farms. If you pay the cost for higher performance, you get it. Go cheap, stay cheap.

  • dude II

    It is up to the user to ask/investigate printing parameters. If all else fails resort to sRGB, but check out what the print lab has to offer. As an alternative, at least in LR, you can print to a JPEG file and embed the printers color profile in the output. Needless to say, but I need to say it anyway, it is imperative that you calibrate your monitor using a color management system if you expect to get good results. Also, if you print using the lab supplied printer profile, be sure to disable having the lab “adjust” the color for you.

  • Michael

    I agree with disabling my printing lab their “color correct option” by checking this check box on. In the past when they used their color correct functionality, all my prints had yellow cast. I guess they automatically try to make all photos warmer but mine are usually have the right natural colors because I always shoot in RAW with grey card target card using the custom WB. Later in LR I use this target shot to set the right WB.

  • Sue McLeod

    This is an extremely helpful post, thank you. I’m a total photography beginner and also starting a blog soon and the photo sizes have had me stumped. There are a lot of great tips here. I love this site, thank you to everyone that contributes 🙂

  • Ramon

    I have read elsewhere that another reason to post smaller images is to discourage theft or unauthorized used of copyrighted images. Any thoughts on this?

  • Mark

    I normally use 1024 for screen (being an old VGA standard) that will be fine for most web users including those on laptops.

  • For all kind of photo editing service , get in touch with, the real human powered photo editing for all your regular needs.

  • Radu

    What exactly command line do you use?

  • Howard Pepper

    For landscape oriented photos: mogrify -resize 2048x image.jpg
    For portrait oriented photos: mogrify -resize x2048 image.jpg

    You can also run it against an entire directory of images if they are all the same orientation, or split them out into landscape and portrait directories. For convenience, I wrote a small shell script to automatically resize all images, no matter their orientation. It uses the “identify” command to get the size of the image, and goes from there.

  • Full of photographers but few computer nerds, first of all defining ppp for a display does nothing (in today web and display standards) because screens are intrinsically variable pixels per inch output device depending on the screen resolution and size, unlike printers -pro printers- where it will determine the actual size of the final print. So ppp Informacion discarded (not used).

    On the other hand, on most of todays decent backofice systems, that’s if you are not building your own web from scratch, do take your original store it and create progressive image files of them optimized for most common screen resolutions and able to do it on the fly for those that are not. This means that when any one of your images is served back is going to have a different size and compression -quality- and they will depend on the client (web browser) that request them. That is done to maintain a coherent layout in different screens resolutions and devices (also called responsive design) and to optimize server bandwidth and load and at the same time optimizing client experience.

    In other words, what you upload is just the raw material for what actually gets displayed back, unless the client request to download the original image and that has been allowed. That’s how high traffic or high quality sites operate today.

    This is what facebook platform does but in a very aggressive manner prioritizing size reduction over retaining quality and discarding the originals due to the huge amounts uploads they receive each day. But other platforms specially those dedicated to hosting photography at professional levels do actually employ this system, check or from adobe.

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