Guetzli: An Open Source JPEG Encoder


Image compression and file sizes is a big issue for photographers. There is a delicate balancing game between keeping a decent file size and not sacrificing too much on quality.

For the sake of this blog I tend to lean towards the latter. Focusing on image quality much more than file size. I use large images which display at half their size, ensuring they look crisp on Apple computers and devices. The large pixel dimensions of the image files means most of the pictures on this blog are averaging at a little over two MB each. Which quickly adds up.

Now it seems like there might be a new tool that could help reduce those files by as much as 30% without a visible loss of image quality. The Google research blog just announced a tool called Guetzli. It’s open source and most importantly it is a JPEG encoder which means it works with the JPEG standard and the files it creates can be read by all devices which can read JPEG files.

You really can’t understate the importance of this being a JPEG encoder. Many attempts have been made to come out with new image formats that offer better compression that JPEG. For example Google created an image format called WebP which they wanted to replace PNG and JPEG. However it’s never been able to really get traction and adoption. Partly because Google can’t get a lot of platform vendors on board with it. So Guetzli being a JPEG encoder means it works today and can be deployed today.

I haven’t tested it yet, but there are already some simple tools appearing on the net. On GitHub there is a Guetzli GUI for the Mac and that might be something I look at when testing this out.

I normally pass my images through a similar tool for the Mac called ImageOptim and am really hoping at Guetzli is added to it in the near future.