My day job has me riding herd on hundred of Macs and PCs in a private Chicagoland school system; also home to hundreds and hundreds of teachers and students who sometimes need, ah, uh, um– technical guidance.
That requires me to be up on the latest technology trends, to be an able and efficient troubleshooters, and to know my way around an increasing diverse group of applications. One category that seems to pop up with regularity is image file sizes. It’s not a good idea to populate a website with photos that weight 5-megabytes. Each. There is a solution.
Knowledge And Math
The first option of consideration is training; educating faculty, staff, and students that images– especially photos– need to be reduced in size before being uploaded or shared online. That’s easy enough for some applications because they have options for Website uploads, and that selection automatically reduces photos and images to an appropriate size. Apple’s Mail app does something similar with Small, Medium, and Large options for photo sharing.
Most applications that deal with images have file size reduction options built-in, so a little knowledge goes a long way. Other times, a standalone application might do the deed and reduce a 5-megabyte photo down to a few hundred kilobytes and acceptability for sharing or uploading to a website. One such utility is called Squash– not the vegetable, though; think squeezing down to an appropriate size. The app once was called Squish, but both names are mostly appropriate.
Squash takes an image or photo and squashes– reduces– the file size while maintaining image quality. Squash is from a reputable Mac app developer which publishes one of my favorite website building tools, RapidWeaver. Squash, though, does a good job of reducing image file size to an appropriate quality while keeping image quality also at an acceptable level. It’s drag and drop and converts Photoshop PSD, RAW, Tiff, including PNGs and JPGs, and other files into high quality JPGs but without the bulk.
If you need it, get it, because it just works well.
What I have found with Squash and other Mac utilities which compress images and photos is that Adobe does it better. Whether it’s the ancient Fireworks or Photoshop or whatever else Adobe lets you use and pay for by the month, the image file sizes are smaller than third party utilities that supposedly do the same thing, with the same subjective visual quality.
Now, I say subjective because judgments vary depending upon experience and numerous other variables, including screen, application, visual acuity, type of photo or image. That I understand, but in every test case and in practical use, Adobe’s applications reduce images to smaller file sizes than competing third party products, and sometimes by as much as 25-percent or more (especially notable on smaller images). That means a 1-megabyte photo in Photoshop can be reduced to less than 75k and retain the same visual quality– objectivity and experience included– as a third party compression utility which maintains the same visual quality but in a file size around 100k or more.
Maybe it’s the age old issue of you get what you pay for, but I suspect that what we’re paying for is proprietary image enhancement and file reduction technology that Adobe can employ where competitors cannot. This is not an issue that affects everyone, but professionals know the differences, so Adobe’s subscription model is in no danger until someone else figures out how to bring the same features to market for less money.