JPEGmini: Quickly Compress Images Without Losing Quality

MacBook Airs, as we all very well know, have much less internal storage than their sibling, the MacBook Pro. This can be a major downside for artists — photographers, musicians, video editors, etc. For example, if you’re a photographer, you probably have a hard time keeping your entire portfolio on your MacBook. You could just plug in an external hard drive and travel around with that, but it’s just an extra device you don’t need to carry, so why not optimize your image files for a smaller hard drive?

JPEGmini‘s developers claim the app can compress your existing images into JPEGs that have a much smaller footprint without compromising quality. Being a person who works with images on a daily basis, this sounded a bit fake to me, but I decided to give the app a try anyway. Here’s our thoughts on the app — and a chance for you to win a free copy of JPEGmini!

Does It Work, and How Well?

Just so nothing got lost, I decided to make sure the app didn't replace my original files.

Just so nothing got lost, I decided to make sure the app didn’t replace my original files.

Away with app introductions and what not: let’s get right down to JPEGmini’s core functionality, then we’ll discuss the details. As a test, I took an entire folder of JPEG images taken with my T2i and dragged them into JPEGmini. In order to prevent the app from replacing my originals, I first clicked the “Optimize Originals” button and changed the setting to “Export to Folder” so I could evaluate the difference between the images and not lose my originals.

Compression was quick and entertaining to watch.

Compression was quick and entertaining to watch.

The app quickly processed 25 images. On my base model mid–2012 13-inch MacBook Air, it took just 41 seconds to compress them. As it worked, a small convex progress bar displayed showing how much space had been saved, which I found to be nice, but only necessary to occupy your time while the app processed things.

The results were surprising: 4.2 MB files were reduced to 3 MB, 4.1 MB ones to 2.5 MB, and a massive 7 MB image to just 5.4 MB. JPEGmini’s compression doesn’t really have a set ratio. Instead, the app intelligently slims down the details of an image. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean it looks like you ran a noise removal plugin, but rather that it was captured by a slightly lower quality camera. When I say slightly, I mean it.

Sadly, my panoramas were not optimized.

Sadly, my panoramas were not optimized.

Interestingly, the app skipped some of my photos because they were above 28 megapixels, which is the limit for its compression. I was surprised that it didn’t even try to compress them, but rather read the Exif data and moved on entirely.

This is an optimized photo. Click for full size.

This is the optimized photo. Click for full size.

To compare my images, I copied the originals to the folder and did a side-by-side view of each one. Since I couldn’t see any difference in quality, I decided to open them up in Photoshop and zoom in. I panned to the same spot on each photo and made sure the zoom was exactly 153% on both of them. The difference was hardly noticeable.

This is the original photo. Click for full size.

This is the original photo. Click for full size.

What Goes On In the Background?

You may be wondering what this app is doing behind the scenes. What kind of witchery compresses an image so well that you can barely notice the difference between the original and optimized result? JPEGmini’s technology page describes the process as “a patent-pending photo recompression technology” that “is capable of reducing the file size of standard JPEG photos by up to 80% (5X)”. The developers say that it examines the original quality of the image with a tool that “imitates the perceptual qualities of the human visual system” and delivers a result that’s only slightly altered in appearance, but significantly lighter in weight.

More information on this compression method is available on JPEGmini’s website.

Quick and to the Point

It works surprisingly well, and on over 100 photos it can make a big difference on your SSD.

It works surprisingly well, and on over 100 photos it can make a big difference on your SSD.

I like how this app doesn’t bombarde you with tutorials or a bunch of unnecessary features right when you launch it. Instead, it presents one bit of functionality: compression. Could Photoshop do better? Well yes, but there’s no need to spend $400 on the suite just so you can get image compression. Besides, the batch functionality is hidden in Photoshop and isn’t as easy to use as JPEGmini. I also found that when the same image was compressed to 1.1 MB (equivalent to JPEGmini’s output size of that image), Photoshop’s had less details. (Not perceivably so, but when I took a closer look, I could tell that one was compressed more.)

I was surprised at how well this app performed. If, like me, you backup your photographs to the cloud (I use Dropbox), this app is incredibly useful. While $20 may seem like a lot for only one feature, the space saved by it is worth the price. You could do the same thing with Preview, but in my testing the result was significantly less satisfying. If you’re just looking for an app to do everything in one click, this is it.

Win a Copy of JPEGmini

Our giveaway is now closed; congrats to our winners!

If JPEGmini has piqued your interest, and you’d like to get your hands on a copy of it for free, you’re in luck. We’ve got 5 copies of JPEGmini to giveaway to our readers, thanks to the developer’s generosity. All you’ve got to do to enter is leave a comment below and let us know why you want to use JPEGmini. We’ll close the giveaway next Friday, August 16th, so hurry and get your entry in!

Envato staff or those who have written more than two articles or tutorials for AppStorm are ineligible to enter.


Summary

This app is fantastic for quick image compression. My only complaint is that it doesn't compress panoramas. Other than that, it's well worth the price if you want to save some space.

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