Wordpress & Web Development

How To Optimize Images For The Web Using GIMP

Jessica Cam Wong 16-02-2011

<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/gimp.png”>gimp optimize image for websiteThere are two ways to optimize single images in GIMP. To optimize or convert multiple images in Windows, you’re probably better off using the ultra fast image viewer, IrfanView, IrfanView Blows Windows Viewer Out of the Water Read More which has an excellent batch conversion feature, or any dedicated mass image manipulators like the ones you can find here The Top 3 Apps to Batch Rename, Convert & Resize Photos (Windows only) Read More (for Windows users). You could skip using GIMP altogether and utilize the batch converters instead, but I prefer to monitor changes in quality in the images that I’m trying to optimize. Some images from batch converters can turn out so grainy because the optimization levels for one image can heavily degrade another one, that you might just have to re-convert.


In any case, one of the two ways requires a plugin from the registry, while the other one is a bit more manual but nothing too time-consuming. So we shall start with that so you can decide which one you prefer.

With No Plugin

Let’s say you have a raw screenshot straight from the source. A lot of the time, the resulting screenshot can turn out huge in file size. Just take Windows Vista and 7’s Snipping Tool. It creates high-quality screenshots, but in no way optimizes when you’re saving the file. Compared to the screenshot saved with my preferred screencapture utility, FastStone Capture 5.3, the Snipping Tool’s file was almost 4 times as large!

gimp optimize image for website

So when you obtain an image file like that, drag it from Windows Explorer to the GIMP window, head to Image > Mode > Indexed.


optimize images

You can type a value in the box for maximum number of colors or use a web-optimized palette, which will make your image suffer heavy quality loss.

optimize images for web

optimize images


You can always try the other mode using Ctrl + Z to undo. Now go up to File > Save As.

optimize images for web

You’ll want to name your file with PNG as the file extension as it’s a screenshot. In the next dialog, uncheck Save Resolution, Save Creation Time, as well as the comments, and then hit OK.

optimize images for web


The results when I optimized the 1.17MB file ended up having 481KB, which isn’t too bad!

optimize images for web

Alternatively, you can also save the image as a JPG file.

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Just make sure you check the box to “Show the Preview in Image Window“, as it will display the potential file size in the same dialog while you can still monitor the quality of the image.

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In this case, the resulting file turned out to be 458KB, which is still smaller than the original one.

With Plugin

Save For Web is a plugin from the registry that will create an option to optimize the image for web use under the File menu. Download either the zip or the tarball file from the site. You need the exe file in the contents of the zipped file in your GIMP plugins folder. If you don’t know where your plugins folder is, you can find the location by going to Edit > Preferences in GIMP.

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Now expand the Folders option and highlight Plug-ins.

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That’s the folder you want to copy the exe file (webexport.exe) to.

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Now restart GIMP (remember to save your work) and you’ll notice the new option under the File menu.

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When you’ve got an enormous file, you can use this option to preview the file size according to the file type you’re interested in saving.

gimp optimize image for website

You can already preview the file size natively in GIMP when dealing with JPG files, but this plugin gives you the same option for PNG files, which are most likely what you want for your screenshots. Using this plugin, I was able to get a 186KB PNG file with 8 bits per pixel, which is great compared to the 400+ KB (24-bit) file using no plugins like detailed above. The quality was virtually the same, as far as I could tell.

I haven’t tried this, but there’s apparently another plugin, RIOT (Radical Image Optimization Tool), which IrfanView uses to optimize images.

What do you use to optimize screenshots?

Image credit: Oxygen Team, eponas-deewey

Related topics: GIMP, Image Editor, Webmaster Tools.

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  1. Bhavik Solanki
    January 27, 2017 at 5:55 am

    Thank you for sharing this great post. This post helps many people and in this post gave good information detail and in this post explain in step by step that helpful for easily understand and useful for people.

  2. tom
    December 7, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    I simply scale the picture down to manageable size. Save as JPG or PDF and mail.

  3. Edward Liu
    February 21, 2011 at 7:24 am

    Thanks for the tutorial :) makes it much easier

  4. Dota
    February 17, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Thanks. The approach certainly not bad, but here only suffers quality of a picture. Someone can knows other method?

    • Jessica Cam W.
      February 18, 2011 at 12:20 am

      I just tried RIOT, which is offered in Irfanview like I mentioned at the end of the article, and it worked beautifully. It compressed a screenshot in PNG from 1MB to 600KB. Quality change was virtually undetectable in my test.

  5. Alex Lanni
    February 17, 2011 at 4:39 am

    Informative article, you have described the process so well that it is really very helpful. Thanks

  6. Kim
    February 17, 2011 at 2:39 am

    Aaah, GIMP. How I will miss you. All but 2 developers left... no real news...


  7. Kim
    February 17, 2011 at 3:39 am

    Aaah, GIMP. How I will miss you. All but 2 developers left... no real news...