The JPEG standard

Section 1

  1. Basics
    1. What is JPEG?
    2. Why use JPEG?
    3. When should I use JPEG, and when should I stick with GIF?
    4. How well does JPEG compress images?
    5. What are good "quality" settings for JPEG?
    6. Where can I get JPEG software?
    7. How do I view JPEG images posted on Usenet?
    8. What is color quantization?
    9. What are some rules of thumb for converting GIF images to JPEG?
    10. Does loss accumulate with repeated compression/decompression?
    11. What is progressive JPEG?
    12. Can I make a transparent JPEG?
    13. Isn't there a lossless JPEG?
    14. Why all the argument about file formats?
    15. How do I recognize which file format I have, and what do I do about it?
    16. What other common compatibility problems are there?
    17. How does JPEG work?
    18. What about arithmetic coding?
    19. Could an FPU speed up JPEG? How about a DSP chip?
    20. Isn't there an M-JPEG standard for motion pictures?
    21. What if I need more than 8-bit precision?
    22. How can my program extract image dimensions from a JPEG file?
    23. Where can I learn about using images on the World Wide Web?
    24. Where are FAQ lists archived?


Subject: [1] What is JPEG?

JPEG (pronounced "jay-peg") is a standardized image compression mechanism.

JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, the original name of the committee that wrote the standard. JPEG is designed for compressing either full-color or gray-scale images of natural, real-world scenes. It works well on photographs, naturalistic artwork, and similar material; not so well on lettering, simple cartoons, or line drawings. JPEG handles only still images, but there is a related standard called MPEG for motion pictures. JPEG is "lossy," meaning that the decompressed image isn't quite the same as the one you started with. (There are lossless image compression algorithms, but JPEG achieves much  greater compression than is possible with lossless methods.) JPEG is designed to exploit known limitations  of the human eye, notably the fact that small color changes are perceived less accurately than small changes in brightness. Thus, JPEG is intended for compressing images that will be looked at by  humans. If you plan to machine-analyze your images, the small errors introduced by JPEG may be a  problem for you, even if they are invisible to the eye. A useful property of JPEG is that the degree of  lossiness can be varied by adjusting compression parameters. Another important aspect of JPEG is that  decoders can trade off decoding speed against image quality, by using fast but inaccurate approximations to  the required calculations. Some viewers obtain remarkable speedups in this way. (Encoders can also trade  accuracy for speed, but there's usually less reason to make such a sacrifice when writing a file.)

Subject: [2] Why use JPEG?

There are two good reasons: to make your image files smaller, and to store 24-bit-per-pixel color data instead of 8-bit-per-pixel data. Making image files smaller is a win for transmitting files and for archiving libraries of images. JPEG can easily provide 20:1 compression of full-color data. If you are comparing GIF and JPEG, the size ratio is usually more like 4:1 (see "[4] How well does JPEG compress images?"). Now, it takes longer to decode and view a JPEG image than to view an image of a simpler format such as GIF. The second fundamental advantage of JPEG is that it stores full color information: 24 bits/pixel (16 million colors). GIF, the other image format widely used on the net, can only store 8 bits/pixel (256 or fewer colors).

Subject: [3] When should I use JPEG, and when should I stick with GIF?

JPEG is *not* going to displace GIF entirely; for some types of images, GIF is superior in image quality, file size, or both. One of the first things to learn about JPEG is which kinds of images to apply it to.

Generally speaking, JPEG is superior to GIF for storing full-color or gray-scale images of "realistic" scenes. GIF does significantly better on images with a few distinct colors, [ line drawings / simple cartoons.]

Icons are handled better by GIF. If you have a GIF with a lot of small-size overlaid text, don't JPEG it. (If  you want to attach descriptive text to a JPEG image, put it in as a comment rather than trying to overlay it on the image. Most recent JPEG software can deal with textual comments in a JPEG file, although older viewers may just ignore the comments.) Plain black-and-white (two level) images should never be converted to JPEG; they violate all of the conditions given above. You need at least about 16 gray levels before JPEG is useful for gray-scale images. It should also be noted that GIF is lossless for gray-scale images of up to 256 levels, while JPEG is not. If you have a large library of GIF images, you may want to save space by converting the GIFs to JPEG. This is trickier than it may seem --- even when the GIFs contain photographic images, they are actually very poor source material for JPEG, because the images have been color-reduced. Non-photographic images should generally be left in GIF form. Good-quality photographic GIFs can often be converted with no visible quality loss, but only if you know what you are doing and you take the time to work on each image individually. Otherwise you're likely to lose a lot of image quality or waste a lot of disk space ... quite possibly both. Read sections 8 and 9 if you want to convert GIFs to JPEG.

Subject: [4] How well does JPEG compress images?

Very well indeed, when working with its intended type of image (photographs and suchlike). For full-color images, the uncompressed data is normally 24 bits/pixel. The best known lossless compression methods can compress such data about 2:1 on average. JPEG can typically achieve 10:1 to 20:1 compression without visible loss, bringing the effective storage requirement down to 1 to 2 bits/pixel. 30:1 to 50:1 compression is possible with small to moderate defects, while for very-low-quality purposes such as previews or archive indexes, 100:1 compression is quite feasible. When a JPEG file is made from full-color photographic data, using a quality setting just high enough to prevent visible loss, the JPEG will typically be a factor of four or five smaller than a GIF file made from the same data. Gray-scale images do not compress by such large factors. Because the human eye is much more sensitive to brightness variations than to hue variations, JPEG can compress hue data more heavily than brightness (gray-scale) data. A gray-scale JPEG file is generally only about 10%-25% smaller than a full-color JPEG file of similar visual quality. But the uncompressed gray-scale data is only 8 bits/pixel, or one-third the size of the color data, so the calculated compression ratio is much lower. The threshold of visible loss is often around 5:1 compression for gray-scale images. The exact threshold at which errors become visible depends on your viewing conditions. The smaller an individual pixel, the harder it is to see an error; so errors are more visible on a computer screen (at 70 or so dots/inch) than on a high-quality color printout (300 or more dots/inch).

Thus a higher-resolution image can tolerate more compression ... which is fortunate considering it's much bigger to start with. The compression ratios quoted above are typical for screen viewing. Also note that the threshold of visible error varies considerably across images.


Subject: [5] What are good "quality" settings for JPEG?

Most JPEG compressors let you pick a file size vs. image quality tradeoff by selecting a quality setting. There seems to be widespread confusion about the meaning of these settings. "Quality 95" does NOT mean "keep 95% of the information", as some have claimed. The quality scale is purely arbitrary; it's not a percentage of anything. In fact, quality scales aren't even standardized across JPEG programs. The quality settings discussed in this article apply to the free IJG JPEG software (see part 2, item 15), and to many programs based on it. Some other JPEG implementations use completely different quality scales. For example:

* Apple used to use a scale running from 0 to 4, not 0 to 100.
* Recent Apple software uses an 0-100 scale that has nothing to do with the IJG scale (their Q 50 is about the same as Q 80 on the IJG scale).
* Paint Shop Pro's scale is the exact opposite of the IJG scale, PSP setting N = IJG 100-N; thus lower numbers are higher quality in PSP.
* Adobe Photoshop doesn't use a numeric scale at all, it just gives you "high"/"medium"/"low" choices. (But I hear this is changing in 4.0.)

Other JPEG implementations may or may not provide user control of downsampling. Adobe Photoshop, for example, automatically switches off downsampling at its higher quality settings. On most photographic images, we recommend leaving downsampling on, because it saves a significant amount of space at little or no visual penalty. For images being used on the World Wide Web, it's often a good idea to give up a small amount of image quality in order to reduce download time. Quality settings around 50 are often perfectly acceptable on the Web.

Subject: [6] Where can I get JPEG software?

See part 2 of this FAQ for recommendations about programs for particular systems. Part 2 also tells where to find free source code for implementing JPEG, in case you want to write your own programs using JPEG.

The* FAQs and the FAQ are more general sources of information about graphics programs available on the Internet (see "[24] Where are FAQ lists archived?").

Subject: [7] How do I view JPEG images posted on Usenet?

Image files posted on the* newsgroups are usually "uuencoded". Uuencoding converts binary image data into text that can safely be posted. Most posters also divide large posts into multiple parts, since some news software can't cope with big articles. Before your viewer will recognize the image, you must combine the parts into one file and run the text through a uudecode program. (This is all true for GIF as well as JPEG, by the way.) There are programs available to automate this process. For more info see the FAQ, which is available from
(see also "[24] Where are FAQ lists archived?").

Subject: [8] What is color quantization?

Many people don't have full-color (24 bit per pixel) display hardware. Inexpensive display hardware stores 8 bits per pixel, so it can display at most 256 distinct colors at a time. To display a full-color image, the computer must choose an appropriate set of representative colors and map the image into these colors. This process is called "color quantization". (This is something of a misnomer; "color selection" or "color reduction" would be a better term. But we're stuck with the standard usage.) Clearly, color quantization is a lossy process. It turns out that for most images, the details of the color quantization algorithm have *much* more impact on the final image quality than do any errors introduced by JPEG itself (except at the very lowest JPEG quality settings). GIF has the advantage that the image maker precomputes the color quantization, so viewers don't have to; this is one of the things that make GIF viewers faster than JPEG viewers. But this is also the *disadvantage* of GIF: you're stuck with the image maker's quantization. If the maker quantized to a different number of colors than what you can display, you'll either waste display capability or else have to requantize to reduce the number of colors (which usually results in much poorer image quality than quantizing once from a full-color image). Furthermore, if the maker didn't use a high-quality color quantization algorithm, you're out of luck --- the image is ruined. For this reason, JPEG promises significantly better image quality than GIF for all users whose machines don't match the image maker's display hardware. JPEG's full color image can be quantized to precisely match the viewer'sdisplay hardware.

Subject: [9] What are some rules of thumb for converting GIF images to JPEG?

Converting GIF files to JPEG is a tricky business --- you are piling one set of limitations atop a quite different set, and the results can be awful. Certainly a JPEG made from a GIF will never be as good as a JPEG made from true 24-bit color data. The first rule is never to convert an image that's not appropriate for JPEG (see "[3] When should I use JPEG, and when should I stick with GIF?"). Large, high-visual-quality photographic images are usually the best source material.

Subject: [10] Does loss accumulate with repeated compression/decompression?

It would be nice if, having compressed an image with JPEG, you could decompress it, manipulate it (crop off a border, say), and recompress it without any further image degradation beyond what you lost initially. Unfortunately THIS IS NOT THE CASE. In general, recompressing an altered image loses more information. In particular it is possible to do 90-degree rotations and flips losslessly, if the image dimensions are a multiple of the file's block size (typically 16x16, 16x8, or 8x8 pixels for color JPEGs). This fact used to be just an academic curiosity, but it has assumed practical importance recently because many users of digital cameras would like to be able to rotate their images from landscape to portrait format without incurring loss --- and practically all digicams that produce JPEG files produce images of the right dimensions for these operations to work. So software that can do lossless JPEG transforms has started to pop up. But you do need special software; rotating the image in a regular image editor won't be lossless. It turns out that if you decompress and recompress an image at the same quality setting first used, relatively little further degradation occurs. This means that you can make local modifications to a JPEG image without material degradation of other areas of the image. (The areas you change will still degrade, however.) Use a lossless 24-bit format (PNG, TIFF, PPM, etc) while working on the image, then JPEG it when you are ready to file it away or send it out on the net. If you expect to edit your image again in the futur e, keep a lossless master copy to work from. The JPEG you put up on your Web site should be a derived copy, not your editing master.

Subject: [11] What is progressive JPEG?

A simple or "baseline" JPEG file is stored as one top-to-bottom scan of the image. Progressive JPEG divides the file into a series of scans. The first scan shows the image at the equivalent of a very low quality setting, and therefore it takes very little space. Following scans gradually improve the quality. Each scan adds to the data already provided, so that the total storage requirement is roughly the same as for a baseline JPEG image of the same quality as the final scan. (Basically, progressive JPEG is just a rearrangement of the same data into a more complicated order.) The advantage of progressive JPEG is that if an image is being viewed on-the-fly as it is transmitted, one can see an approximation to the whole image very quickly, with gradual improvement of quality as one waits longer; this is much nicer than a slow top-to-bottom display of the image. The disadvantage is that each scan takes about the same amount of computation to display as a whole baseline JPEG file would. So progressive JPEG only makes sense if one has a decoder that's fast compared to the communication link. (If the data arrives quickly, a progressive-JPEG decoder can adapt by skipping some display passes. Hence, those of you fortunate enough to have T1 or faster net links may not see any difference between progressive and regular JPEG; but on a modem-speed link, progressive JPEG is great.)

Subject: [12] Can I make a transparent JPEG?

No. JPEG does not support transparency and is not likely to do so any time soon.

Subject: [13] Isn't there a lossless JPEG?

There's a great deal of confusion on this subject, which is not surprising because there are several different compression methods all known as "JPEG". The commonly used method is "baseline JPEG" (or its variant "progressive JPEG"). The same ISO standard also defines a very different method called "lossless JPEG". And if that's not confusing enough, a new lossless standard called "JPEG-LS" is about to hit the streets. And lossless JPEG works well only on continuous-tone images. It does not provide useful compression of palette-color images or low-bit-depth images. Lossless JPEG has never been popular --- in fact, no common applications support it --- and it is now largely obsolete. (For example, the new PNG standard outcompresses lossless JPEG on most images.)

Subject: [14] Why all the argument about file formats?

Strictly speaking, JPEG refers only to a family of compression algorithms; it does *not* refer to a specific image file format. The JPEG committee was prevented from defining a file format by turf wars within the international standards organizations. Since we can't actually exchange images with anyone else unless we agree on a common file format, this leaves us with a problem. In the absence of official standards, a number of JPEG program writers have just gone off to "do their own thing", and as a result their programs aren't compatible with anyone else's. The closest thing we have to a standard JPEG format is some work that's been coordinated by people at C-Cube Microsystems. They have defined two JPEG-based file formats:
       * JFIF (JPEG File Interchange Format), a "low-end" format that transports pixels and not much else.
       * TIFF/JPEG, aka TIFF 6.0, an extension of the Aldus TIFF format. TIFF is a "high-end" format that will let you record just about everything you ever wanted to know about an image, and a lot more besides :-).

JFIF has emerged as the de-facto standard on Internet, and is what is most commonly meant by "a JPEG file". Most JFIF readers are also capable of handling some not-quite-JFIF-legal variant formats.

The TIFF 6.0 spec for incorporating JPEG is not widely implemented, partly because it has some serious design flaws. A revised TIFF/JPEG design is now described by TIFF Technical Note #2; this design will be the one used in TIFF 7.0. New implementations of TIFF should use the Tech Note's design for embedding JPEG, not the TIFF 6.0 design. (As far as I know, NeXTStep systems are the only ones making  any significant use of TIFF 6.0 style TIFF/JPEG.) Even when TIFF/JPEG is stable, it will never be as widely used as JFIF. TIFF is far more complex than JFIF, and is generally less transportable because different vendors often implement slightly different, nonoverlapping subsets of TIFF. Adding JPEG to the mix hasn't helped any. Apple's Macintosh QuickTime software uses a JFIF-compatible datastream wrapped inside the Mac-specific PICT format. Conversion between JFIF and PICT/JPEG is pretty straightforward, and several Mac programs are available to do it (see part 2, item 8). If you have an editor that handles binary files, you can even strip a PICT/JPEG file down to JFIF by hand; see the next section for details. News flash: the ISO JPEG committee seems to have won their turf wars. They have defined a complete file format spec called SPIFF in the new "Part 3" extensions to the JPEG standard.

It's pretty late in the game though, so whether this will have much impact on real-world files remains to be seen. SPIFF is upward compatible with JFIF, so if it does get widely adopted, most users probably won't even notice.

Subject: [15] How do I recognize which file format I have, and what do I do about it?

If you have an alleged JPEG file that your software won't read, it's likely to be some proprietary JPEG-based format. You can tell what you have by inspecting the first few bytes of the file:

  1.  A JFIF-standard file will start with FF D8 FF E0, followed by two variable bytes (often hex 00 10), followed by 'JFIF'.
  2. If you see FF D8 FF at the start, but not the 'JFIF' marker, you probably have a not-quite-JFIF JPEG file. Most JFIF software should read it without complaint. If you are using something that is picky enough to complain about the lack of a JFIF marker, try another decoder. (Both very old JPEG files and very new ones may lack JFIF markers ---the new SPIFF standard mentioned above doesn't use a JFIF marker.

    So gripe to your software vendor if you find this to be the problem.)

  3.  A Macintosh PICT file, if JPEG-compressed, will have several hundred bytes of header (often 726 bytes, but not always) followed by JPEG data. Look for the 3-byte sequence (hex) FF D8 FF. The text 'Photo ?  JPEG' will usually appear shortly before this header, and 'AppleMark' or 'JFIF' will usually appear shortly after it. Strip off everything before the FF D8 FF and you will usually be able to decode the file.

    (This will fail if the PICT image is divided into multiple "bands"; fortunately banded PICTs aren't very common. A banded PICT contains multiple JPEG datastreams whose heights add up to the total image height. These need to be stitched back together into one image. Bailey Brown has some simple tools for this purpose on a Web page at )

  4.  If the file came from a Macintosh, it could also be a standard JFIF file with a MacBinary header attached. In this case, the JFIF header will appear 128 bytes into the file. Get rid of the first 128 bytes and you're set.
  5. Anything else: it's a proprietary format, or not JPEG at all. If you are lucky, the file may consist of a  header and a raw JPEG data stream. If you can identify the start of the JPEG data stream (look for D8), try stripping off everything before that. At least one release of HiJaak Pro writes JFIF files that claim to be revision 2.01. There is no such spec; the latest JFIF revision is 1.02. It looks like HiJaak got the high and low bytes backwards. Unfortunately, most JFIF readers will give up on encountering these files, because the JFIF spec defines a major version number change to mean an incompatible format change. If  there ever *were* a version 2.01, it would be so numbered because current software could not read it and should not try. (One wonders if HiJaak has ever heard of cross-testing with other people's software.) If you run into one of these misnumbered files, you can fix it with a binary-file editor, by changing the twelfth byte of the file from 2 to 1.

Subject: [16] What other common compatibility problems are there?

Aside from the file format difficulties mentioned in the previous section, there are a few other common causes of trouble with transferring JPEGs. Old decoders that don't handle progressive JPEG will often give rather cryptic error messages when fed a progressive JPEG. If you get a complaint like "Unsupported marker type 0xC2", then you definitely have a progressive JPEG file and a non-progressive-capable decoder.

(See part 2 of this FAQ for information about more up-to-date programs.) Or you may get a generic error message that claims the file is corrupted or isn't JPEG at all. Adobe Photoshop and some other prepress-oriented applications will produce four-channel CMYK JPEG files when asked to save a JPEG from CMYK image mode. Hardly anything that's not prepress-savvy will cope with CMYK JPEGs (or any other CMYK format for that matter). When making JPEGs for Web use, be sure to save from RGB or grayscale mode. Photoshop also has a habit of stuffing a rather large thumbnail/preview image into an application-private segment of JPEG files. Some other applications (notably early releases of Sun's Java library) are known to choke on this data. This is definitely a bug in those other applications, but the best available workaround is still to tell Photoshop not to save a thumbnail. If you're putting up an image on the Web, having a thumbnail embedded in it is just a waste of download time anyway. When transferring images between machines running different operating systems, be very careful to get a straight "binary" transfer --- any sort of text format conversion will corrupt a JPEG file. Actually that's true for all image formats not just JPEG.

Subject: [17] How does JPEG work?

Technical details are outside the scope of this FAQ, but you can find an introduction and references for further reading in the comp.compression FAQ, which is available from  (see also "[24] Where are FAQ lists archived?").

Subject: [18] What about arithmetic coding?

The JPEG spec defines two different "back end" modules for the final output of compressed data: either Huffman coding or arithmetic coding is allowed. The choice has no impact on image quality, but arithmetic coding usually produces a smaller compressed file. On typical images, arithmetic coding produces a file 5 to 10 percent smaller than Huffman coding. (All the file-size numbers previously cited are for Huffman coding.) *you cannot legally use JPEG arithmetic coding* unless you obtain licenses from IBM or AT&T

Subject: [19] Could an FPU speed up JPEG? How about a DSP chip?

Since JPEG is so compute-intensive, many people suggest that using an FPU chip (a math coprocessor) should speed it up. This is not so. Most production-quality JPEG programs use only integer arithmetic and so they are unaffected by the presence or absence of floating-point hardware.

Subject: [20] Isn't there an M-JPEG standard for motion pictures?

As was stated in section 1, JPEG is only for still images. Nonetheless, you will frequently see references to "motion JPEG" or "M-JPEG" for video. *There is no such standard*. Various vendors have applied JPEG to individual frames of a video sequence, and have called the result "M-JPEG". Unfortunately, in the absence of any recognized standard, they've each done it differently. The resulting files are usually not compatible across different vendors. MPEG is the recognized standard for motion picture compression. It uses many of the same techniques as JPEG, but adds inter-frame compression to exploit the similarities that usually exist between successive frames. Because of this, MPEG typically compresses a video sequence by about a factor of three more than "M-JPEG" methods can for similar quality. The disadvantages of MPEG are
       (1) it requires far more computation to generate the compressed sequence (since detecting visual similarities is hard for a computer), and
       (2) it's difficult to edit an MPEG sequence on a frame-by-frame basis (since each frame is intimately tied to the ones around it). This latter problem has made "M-JPEG" methods rather popular for video editing products.

It's a shame that there isn't a recognized M-JPEG standard. But there isn't, so if you buy a product identified as "M-JPEG", be aware that you are probably locking yourself into that one vendor.

Subject: [21] What if I need more than 8-bit precision?

Baseline JPEG stores images with 8 bits per color sample, in other words 24 bits per pixel for RGB images, 8 bits/pixel for grayscale, 32 bits/pixel for CMYK, etc. There is an extension that stores 12 bits/sample for applications that need higher accuracy. Medical images, for example, are often 12-bit grayscale. The 12-bit extension is not very widely supported, however. One package that does support it is the free IJG source code (see part 2, item 15).

Subject: [22] How can my program extract image dimensions from a JPEG file?

The header of a JPEG file consists of a series of blocks, called "markers".The image height and width are stored in a marker of type SOFn (Start Of Frame, type N). To find the SOFn you must skip over the preceding markers; you don't have to know what's in the other types of markers, just use their length words to skip over them. The minimum logic needed is perhaps a page of C code. (Some people have recommended just searching for the byte pair representing SOFn, without paying attention to the marker block structure.

This is unsafe because a prior marker might contain the SOFn pattern, either by chance or because it contains a JPEG-compressed thumbnail image. If you don't follow the marker structure you will retrieve the thumbnail's size instead of the main image size.) A profusely commented example in C can be found in rdjpgcom.c in the IJG distribution (see part 2, item 15). Perl code can be found in wwwis, from .

Subject: [23] Where can I learn about using images on the World Wide Web?

If you want to display still images on the World Wide Web, you have a choice of using JPEG or GIF; those two formats are by far the most widely supported by WWW browsers. (We can hope that PNG will soon become popular enough to replace GIF on the Web; see  for PNG info. )

For most images it's pretty obvious which format to choose (see "[3] When should I use JPEG, and when should I stick with GIF?").

JPEG's ability to trade off file size against image quality is especially helpful for trimming download times of Web photos. But there's a good many things to know that are specific to Web design, and even specific to the currently-most-popular browsers. This FAQ doesn'ttry to cover Web graphics design. Good basic information can be found at:


and here are some sites with more advanced info:


Subject: [24] Where are FAQ lists archived?

Many FAQs are crossposted to news.answers. Well-run netnews sites will have the latest versions available in that newsgroup. However, there are a *lot* of postings in news.answers, and they can be hard to sort through.

The latest versions of news.answers postings are archived at You can retrieve this FAQ by FTP as and If you have no FTP access, send e-mail to containing the lines send faqs/jpeg-faq/part1 send faqs/jpeg-faq/part2

(If you don't get a reply, the server may be misreading your return address; add a line such as "path myname@mysite" to specify your correct e-mail address to reply to.) For more info about the FAQ archive, retrieve the file The same FAQs are also available from several places on the World Wide Web, of which my favorite is

This FAQ is .

Other popular WWW FAQ archives include  and


JPEG image compression FAQ, part 2/2

Summary: System-specific hints and program recommendations for JPEG images

This article answers Frequently Asked Questions about JPEG image compression. This is part 2, covering system-specific hints and program recommendations for a variety of computer systems. Part 1 covers general questions and answers about JPEG.

General info:

[1] What is covered in this FAQ?
[2] How do I retrieve these programs?

Programs and hints for specific systems:

[3] X Windows
[4] Unix (without X)
[5] MS-DOS
[6] Microsoft Windows
[7] OS/2
[8] Macintosh
[9] Amiga
[10] Atari ST
[11] Acorn Archimedes
[12] NeXT
[13] Tcl/Tk
[14] Other systems

Source code for JPEG:

[15] Freely available source code for JPEG


[16] Which programs support progressive JPEG?
[17] Where are FAQ lists archived?

This article and its companion are posted every 2 weeks. If you can't find

part 1, you can get it from the news.answers archive at

(see "[17] Where are FAQ lists archived?"). This article changes frequently;

get a new copy if the one you are reading is more than a couple months old.

Subject: [1] What is covered in this FAQ?

This list describes programs that are of particular interest to JPEG users. For the most part, I concentrate on viewers, since a viewer program is the first thing you'll need. Some general image-editing programs are listed too, especially if they are useful as plain viewers (meaning that they can load and display an image as quickly and easily as a dedicated viewer).

Programs that convert JPEG to and from other image file formats are also covered.

I list only freeware and shareware programs that are available on the Internet by FTP. Commercial products are intentionally excluded, to keep the list to a reasonable size and to avoid any appearance of advertising. Also, I try to list only programs that are popular among Usenet users, as indicated by comments and recommendations in news articles. I have no access to many of the types of systems covered here, so I have to rely on what other people say about a program to decide whether to list it. If you have an opinion pro or con on any program, I'd appreciate hearing it.

This FAQ also includes a few hints that are specific to a machine or program, and thus don't belong in the general discussion of part 1.

Subject: [2] How do I retrieve these programs?

Almost all the files mentioned in this FAQ are available by standard Internet FTP. If you don't know how to use FTP, please read the article "Anonymous FTP FAQ List", which you can get by sending e-mail to with the single line "send faqs/ftp-list/faq" in the body. (See also "[17] Where are FAQ lists archived?") This section gives some quick reminders which are not meant as a substitute for reading the FTP FAQ.

If you use a WWW browser such as Netscape or Lynx, it will do FTP for you.

To retrieve a file described here as "", tell the

browser to open the URL "". (If you are reading

this FAQ in the WWW FAQ archive, the file names should appear as links that

you can just click on.) Depending on your browser, you may have to shift-

click or take some other special action to instruct the browser to save the

file to disk, rather than trying to display the file to you.

If you do not have direct access to FTP, you can use an "ftpmail" server to

obtain files by e-mail. See the FTP FAQ for details.

Many of the pointers given here refer to popular central archive sites,

such as for DOS software or for Mac.

These sites are often overloaded, and are likely to refuse your connection

request when they are busy. You can try again at a less popular time of

day, or you can look for a "mirror site". Most central archive sites have

groups of mirror sites that keep copies of their files. Find out the name

of the mirror site closest to you, and visit that site instead; it's good

net citizenship and you'll get faster response. Check the FAQs for the

newsgroups specific to your system type to find lists of mirror sites.

(The archive site may list some mirror sites in its connection-refused error

message. Unfortunately, some FTP programs won't show you the whole message.

WWW browsers are often bad about this.)

If you are able to reach the archive site, but the file you want doesn't

exist, most likely it's been replaced by a newer version. Get a directory

listing of the directory that's supposed to contain the file, and look for

a file with a similar name but a higher version number. In a WWW browser,

you can get a directory listing by removing the file name, that is opening

the URL consisting of everything up to and including the last slash. (If

you find an out-of-date reference in a *current* version of the JPEG FAQ,

I'd appreciate hearing about it by e-mail.)

Practically all of the files listed here are compressed archive files.

This means you need to retrieve them in binary mode. (WWW browsers do this

automatically, but many older FTP programs must be told to use binary mode.)

Once you've got the archive file, you'll need a decompressor/dearchiver

to extract the program and documentation files inside it. Check the FAQs

for your system type to find out where to get dearchiver programs.

Subject: [3] X Windows

XV is an excellent viewer for JPEG, GIF, and many other image formats.

It can also do format conversion and some simple image manipulations.

Current release is 3.10a, available from or from Shareware, $25. HINT: if you have an 8-bit

display then you need to "lock 8-bit mode" to get decent display of JPEG

images. (But do NOT do this if you intend to resave the image, because

it'll be written from the 8-bit version, thus costing you image quality.)

You can set this mode to be default by adding "xv.force8: true" to your

.Xdefaults file. To override that default for editing, say "xv -24".

Another excellent choice is John Cristy's free ImageMagick package, currently

at release 4.1; see

This software handles many image processing and conversion tasks. The

ImageMagick package provides a C/C++-callable library and a set of command

line processing/display programs. Perl and Python interfaces to the

ImageMagick library are also available.

Both of the above are large, complex packages. If you just want a simple

image viewer, try xloadimage or xli. xloadimage views and converts many

image file types including JPEG. Version 4.1 has better JPEG support than

prior versions and is easier to install. xloadimage is free and available

from xli is a variant version

of xloadimage; xli is slightly better as an interactive viewer, but it can't

be used as a converter, and it supports fewer file formats. xli is also

free and available from

Subject: [4] Unix (without X)

If you want a command-line JPEG conversion program, see the IJG source code

described in section 15. (This code is included as a subdirectory in most

of the X programs described above, although they may not have the latest


Non-X viewers are hard to come by, since they are very hardware dependent.

Linux users with VGA/SVGA displays may like zgv. Version 3.1 is available


(Several other alternatives are available in the same directory.)

If you use a less popular platform, you're probably out of luck.

Subject: [5] MS-DOS

This covers plain DOS; for Windows or OS/2 programs, see the next sections.

NOTE ABOUT SIMTEL FILES: The best-known Internet collection of PC-related

programs is the Simtel archives (named for the original archive site, now

defunct). The principal archive site for these files is,

which is the site referenced by the FTP pointers given below. However,

there are numerous mirror sites that keep copies of the Simtel files.

For quickest response you should use the mirror site closest to you.

Consult the periodic postings in comp.archives.msdos.announce to find your

nearest mirror site. If you have no FTP capability, the same postings will

tell you how to retrieve Simtel files by e-mail. You can also access the

Simtel archives via WWW at

QPV (formerly called QPEG) is an extremely fast JPEG viewer. In exchange for

speed, QPV gives up some image quality, particularly on 256-or-less-color

displays. Its best feature is a really-fast small preview window, which is

great for searching through lots of image files. Also views GIF,TGA,BMP,PNG.

Requires 386-or-better CPU and VGA-or-better display card. Current version

is 1.7e, from

Shareware, $20.

SEA is a new JPEG/PNG/GIF/etc viewer and file-format converter. It is

very very fast --- faster than QPV in most cases, according to the authors.

Also, it can read progressive JPEGs; QPV can't. Current version is 1.3,

available from

Shareware, $30. Requires 386-or-better CPU and VESA-compatible display.

DVPEG is a free viewer for JPEG, GIF, Targa, and PPM files. Current version

is 3.0l, available from

(That's lower case l, not digit 1.) This is a good basic viewer that comes

in both 286 and 386-and-up versions. The user interface is clunky but

functional. DVPEG is substantially faster than it used to be; on hi-color

displays it is nearly as fast as QPV. On 8-bit displays, its two-pass

quantization mode is slow but gives much better image quality than QPV can


Lesser-used DOS viewers include:

* DISPLAY, alias DISP. The Swiss army knife of DOS viewers. Does almost

everything, but a bit intimidating for newcomers. User interface is much

improved over early versions, but still awkward in places. Requires 386

or better. Freeware. Current version is 1.89, available from and

* GDS. A well-done viewer and image converter for many image formats.

Installation is simple, and the on-line documentation is very good.

JPEG loading is a bit slower than the above viewers, though. Shareware,

$40. Current version is 3.1f. A slightly restricted demo version is

available from

* NVIEW. Views JPEG and half a dozen other image formats. Easy to use,

very easy to install. Only moderately fast, but it has lots of options.

Supports hi-color and true-color modes on some cards, but not mine :-(.

Requires 386 or better. Current version is 1.50, available from Shareware, $29.

* CSHOW or CompuShow (recently renamed 2SHOW). This is a widely used viewer

for GIF and other formats. Versions prior to CSHOW 9.00 or 2SHOW 2.00 had

absolutely abysmal JPEG support; if you have one of those, toss it and get

a newer version. The current release is still the slowest DOS JPEG viewer

listed here, but it's faster than it used to be, and image quality and

robustness have improved substantially. The main reason to use CSHOW

as a JPEG viewer is that it supports a wide range of pre-VGA display

hardware (most of the above viewers require VGA or better). Also, CSHOW

doesn't require a 386. Current version is 2.04, available from Shareware, $39.

Due to the remarkable variety of PC graphics hardware, any one of these

viewers might not work on your particular machine. If you can't get *any*

of them to work, you'll need to use one of the following conversion programs

to convert JPEG to GIF, then view with your favorite GIF viewer. (If you

have hi-color hardware, don't use GIF as the intermediate format; try to

find a hi-color BMP- or TARGA-capable viewer instead.)

The free IJG JPEG converters are available from (or

if you have a 386-or-better CPU and extended memory). These programs will

convert JPEG to and from BMP, Targa, and PPM formats; they are DOS

compilations of the free source code described in section 15.

Handmade Software offers free JPEG<=>GIF conversion tools, GIF2JPG/JPG2GIF.

These are quite slow and are limited to conversion to and from GIF format;

thus they can't produce 24-bit color output from a JPEG. The sole advantage

of these tools is that they will read and write HSI's proprietary JPEG

format as well as the Usenet-standard JFIF format. Since HSI-format files

are rather widespread on BBSes, this is a useful capability. Version 2.0

of these tools is free (prior versions were shareware), and is available


NOTE: do not use HSI format for files to be posted on Usenet, since it is

not readable by any non-HSI software.

Handmade Software also has a shareware image conversion and manipulation

package, Image Alchemy. This will translate JPEG files (both JFIF and HSI

formats) to and from many other image formats. It can also display images.

A demo version of Image Alchemy version 1.10 is available from

JPGINDEX is a useful tool for making indexes of JPEG image collections.

Available from

Subject: [6] Microsoft Windows

ACDSee is a very fast, easy to use JPEG/GIF/PNG/etc viewer. Good viewing

and browsing capabilities, including a fast preview display; but no image

editing or conversion functions. Both Windows 95/NT and Windows 3.1

versions are available from or Shareware, $30.

IrfanView is a popular viewer/converter for many formats including JPEG,

PNG, and GIF. Requires Windows 95/NT. Current version is 2.83, available

from Free.

LView Pro is a viewer/editor/converter for JPEG, GIF, BMP, and other

formats. It offers a wide array of image editing functions and can load

JPEGs in either fast/low-quality or slow/high-quality modes. Requires 386

or better CPU. The current version, 1.D, runs under Windows 95, Windows NT,

or Windows 3.1 with Win32s 32-bit extension. It's available from Shareware, $30.

An older version that can run under vanilla Windows 3.1 is

ThumbsPlus is an image browser and cataloger that handles many file formats.

It can also do some editing and format conversion, but indexing a large

image collection is what it's really aimed at. Current version is 3.20, at Shareware, $70. Requires

Windows 95 or NT, or Windows 3.1 with Win32s.

VuePrint is a widely used viewer and printer for JPEG, GIF, BMP, and

other formats. Shareware, $40. Version 7.3 is available from

Another good viewer/browser/indexer is CompuPic, available from (Windows 95, NT, or 3.1+Win32s) or (Windows 3.1). Shareware, $40.

Many people like Paint Shop Pro. It's overkill as just a JPEG viewer

(especially since image quality is not very good on 8-bit displays), but

as an image editor and manipulator it is very strong. Current version is

4.1 for Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0; an older version is still available

for Windows 3.1. Available from Shareware, $69.

WinJPEG displays and converts JPEG, GIF, TIFF, BMP, and other file formats.

It has some other nifty features including screen capture, color-balance

adjustment, and slideshow. Shareware, $25. The current version is 2.84,

available from

WinECJ is a fast, no-frills viewer with image quality noticeably worse than

most other JPEG viewers. (You can purchase a version with better image

quality for AUD$30.) Version 1.2 is free and available from

QPV and DVPEG (see previous section) work under Windows, but only in

full-screen mode, not in a window. Also note that you can run the DOS

conversion programs described earlier inside a Windows DOS window.

JPEG Optimizer is a standalone JPEG compression program that lets you

interactively preview the results of different compression settings. It

also has both automatic and manual selective-compression ability: parts of

the image that have finer detail or are more important can be compressed

less heavily than parts with less detail. Shareware, $29. Requires Windows

95 or NT 4.0 or later. Available from

PIE is a utility program designed for digital camera users: it can extract

auxiliary information (exposure data, etc) that most digicams include in

their JPEG output files. PIE can also do lossless rotation of JPEGs,

something that you cannot do with traditional image editors (because loading

and resaving in an editor incurs at least roundoff error). Requires Win32.

Version 2.8 is available from Shareware, $19.

Photoshop 4.0 supports progressive JPEG. If you have an older version,

you can get a plugin that enables progressive JPEG loading and saving from

Pegasus, The plugin is free for loading, shareware

($29) for saving.

Other Windows 95 native releases include:

* PolyView. Reads JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP, Photo-CD. Current version is 3.03,

available from

Shareware, $20.

Other popular Windows NT-only viewers include:

* PolyView. Reads JPEG, GIF, BMP, Photo-CD. Current version is 1.70,

available from

Shareware, $20.

If you're a programmer looking for JPEG support under Windows, consider the

free JPEG source code in item 15, or these pre-canned alternatives:

TwistedPixel, an OCX component that reads and writes JPEG and other formats

(and also does many other kinds of image manipulations), is available at OCXs are usable by

Visual Basic, Delphi, and other non-C programs. Shareware, $69. Requires

Windows 95 or NT.

ImgDLL is a Win32 DLL that reads and writes JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and BMP files

and provides various image processing functions. Shareware, $15. Available


Subject: [7] OS/2

The most widely used OS/2 JPEG viewers are:

PMJPEG 1.83: OS/2 2.x port of WinJPEG, a popular viewer/converter for

Windows (see description in previous section). Shareware, $20. Available


PMView 1.00: JPEG/GIF/BMP/Targa/etc viewer. GIF viewing very fast, JPEG

viewing roughly the same speed as the above two programs. Has image

manipulation & slideshow functions. Shareware, $35. Available from

Galleria 2.31: JPEG/BMP/PCX/Targa/TIFF viewer/editor/converter.

Shareware, $65. Available from

All of these viewers require Palette Manager for best display quality.

Opinion seems to be about equally split as to which is the best, so try

them all to see which one you like.

JPEGPROC enables all OS/2 multimedia applications to read and write JPEG

files. Available as part of the "Practice Viewer Upgrade" which also

includes a multimedia browser alleged to be better than IB.EXE.

Shareware. Available from

OS/2 executables of the free IJG conversion programs are available from

Note: the hobbes OS/2 collection is mirrored at

Subject: [8] Macintosh

Most Mac JPEG programs rely on Apple's JPEG implementation, which is part of

the QuickTime system extension; so you need to have QuickTime installed.

To use QuickTime, you need a 68020 or better CPU and you need to be running

System 6.0.7 or later. (If you're running System 6, you must also install

the 32-bit QuickDraw extension; in later Systems, that is built in.) The

latest officially released version of QuickTime is 3.0, available from

QuickTime 3.0 can read progressive JPEGs (but not write them). Older

versions of QuickTime can't handle them at all, and are also more likely to

crash if fed a corrupted JPEG. If you're using QuickTime-dependent programs

to handle JPEG then I recommend upgrading to 3.0 pronto. (Note that many of

the programs recommended in this section contain their own JPEG codecs and

don't depend on QuickTime.)

Mac users should keep in mind that QuickTime's JPEG format, PICT/JPEG, is

not the same as the Usenet-standard JFIF JPEG format. (See part 1 for

details.) If you post images on Usenet, make sure they are in JFIF format.

Most of the programs mentioned here can handle either format.

The largest Internet collection of Mac software is the Info-Mac archive,

which is mirrored in many places (the master site is only directly

accessible by the archivists themselves). The pointers below cite Apple

Computer's mirror site, but you may get better service from a mirror site

closer to you. See "Introductory Macintosh Frequently Asked Questions" in

the comp.sys.mac.* newsgroups for the current locations of mirrors.

JPEGView is an excellent free program for viewing JFIF,PICT/JPEG,GIF,TIFF,

and other image files. It can convert between JFIF and PICT/JPEG and can

create preview images for files. The current version is 3.3.1, available from

Requires System 7; QuickTime is optional. JPEGView is a fine viewer with an

unusual but well-thought-out design (no scroll bars, for example).

Unfortunately, it hasn't been updated in a long time, and is starting to show

its age. There are reports of bugs under System 7.5.3 and later. Also, its

built-in JPEG decoder doesn't know about progressive JPEG. If you like

JPEGView, I suggest installing QuickTime 3.0 and setting JPEGView to use


Jade is a new, very promising freeware viewer for JPEG, GIF, PICT, and BMP images. It's fast, simple to use, and has preview and slideshow capabilities. And it supports progressive JPEGs. Since JPEGView is no longer being updated, Jade will probably supersede it as the most popular free Mac JPEG viewer before long. Current version is 1.2, available from Requires 68020 (or higher) or PowerPC, as well as System 7.5 (or later) or Thread Manager.

GIFConverter, a shareware ($30) image viewer/editor/converter, supports JFIF,PICT/JPEG,PNG, and many other image formats. Current release is 2.4.4, available from . Requires System 6.0.5 or later.

 GIFConverter is not better than JPEGView as a plain JPEG/GIF viewer, but it has much more extensive image manipulation and format conversion capabilities. Also, GIFConverter is your best bet if your machine is too old to run System 7 and/or QuickTime. Hint: if GIFConverter runs out of memory while loading a large JPEG, try converting the file to GIF with JPEG Convert, then viewing the GIF version.

GraphicConverter is another popular viewer/editor/converter. It has even more functionality than GIFConverter, but is correspondingly larger. Great if you like lots of options. Shareware, $35. Current version is 3.6, available from the author's website  or various mirrors.

Sam Bushell has prepared a couple of simple but nicely done drag-and-drop converter applications, "To JPEG" and "Progressify". To JPEG converts any file format understood by QuickTime to regular or progressive JPEG; Progressify converts losslessly between regular and progressive JPEG formats. Both are free and require System 7.0 or later. Available from  and

Cameraid is a useful utility program designed for users of digital cameras, but having general interest as well. It does image downloading from many makes of digicam, lossless rotation and other transformations of JPEGs, and display of auxiliary information that many digicams include in their JPEG output files. It's also a nice viewer. Version 1.1.1 is available from . Shareware, $15.

Photoshop 4.0 supports progressive JPEG. If you have an older version, you can get two different plugins that enable progressive JPEG support (they also work in other applications that support Photoshop plugins).

One is ProJPEG, available from  (shareware, $25). The other is JPEG Transmogrifier's plugin version, available from  (shareware, $22).

ProJPEG is worthwhile even with PS 4.0, because it has a nifty preview of the results of different compression settings.

HINT: You must set the file type code of a downloaded JPEG file to 'JPEG' to allow Photoshop to recognize it. Most of the other programs suggested here are not so picky about file type codes.

HINT: if you use Fetch to retrieve files by FTP, make sure ".jpg" is in its list of binary file types under Customize/Suffix Mapping. Otherwise Fetch's "automatic" retrieval mode will retrieve JPEGs in text mode, thus corrupting the data. Old versions of Fetch do not include ".jpg" in the default list.   Also, Fetch 3.0 is buggy; get 3.0.1 or later for reliable uploads.

Subject: [9] Amiga

Most programs listed in this section are available from "AmiNet" archive sites. The master AmiNet site is, but there are many mirror sites and you should try to use the closest one.

Osma Ahvenlampi posted a good review of Amiga picture viewers in in March 1994. You can retrieve it from

Opinions here are mostly stolen from his article.

CyberShow is a well-regarded viewer and converter for many image

formats including JPEG. It can do truecolor/highcolor display with

CyberGraphics software and a suitable graphics board. Shareware, $25.

Version 7.5 is available as a demo (displays grayscale only) from AmiNet

sites, /pub/aminet/gfx/board/cybershow75.lha. Requires OS3.0 or better.

FastView is a fast, high-quality JPEG/GIF/ILBM viewer. Works well on both

ECS and AGA displays. Shareware, $15; requires OS 2.0. Version 2.0 is

available from Aminet sites, file /pub/aminet/gfx/show/FView20.lha.

FastJPEG is a free JPEG viewer; it's fast and has good image quality, but it

doesn't view any formats except JPEG. Somewhat faster than FastView on ECS

machines, slower on AGA. Version 1.10 is available from Aminet sites, file


HamLab Plus is an excellent JPEG viewer/converter, as well as being a

general image manipulation tool. It's cheap (shareware, $20) and can read

several formats besides JPEG. The current version is 2.0.8. A demo version

is available from AmiNet sites, file /pub/aminet/gfx/edit/hamlab208d.lha.

The demo version will crop images larger than 512x512, but it is otherwise

fully functional.

PPShow is a good free JPEG/GIF/ILBM/ANIM/Datatype viewer. Version 4.0 is

available from Aminet sites, file /pub/aminet/gfx/show/PPShow40.lha. For

viewing JPEGs it is a little slower than FastJPEG, and image quality is not

as good (particularly on ECS machines).

Rend24 (shareware, $30) is an image renderer that can display JPEG, ILBM,

and GIF images. The program can be used to create animations, even

capturing frames on-the-fly from rendering packages like Lightwave.

The current version is 1.05, available from AmiNet sites, file


Viewtek is a free JPEG/ILBM/GIF/ANIM viewer. The current version is 2.1,

available from AmiNet sites, file /pub/aminet/gfx/show/ViewTEK21.lha.

Viewtek used to be the best free JPEG viewer for Amiga, but it now faces

stiff competition. The choice depends on your display hardware and personal

preferences. Viewtek has poor display quality on OCS/ECS (HAM6) screens;

but it looks very good on AGA (HAM8).

Visage is a free JPEG/ILBM/PNG/Datatypes viewer with lots of features,

including progressive JPEG support (it even does progressive rendering).

Requires OS3.0 or better. Version 39.14 is available from Aminet sites,

file /pub/aminet/gfx/show/Visage.lha.

There is finally a good JPEG datatype for use with datatype-based viewers

(such as Multiview or ShowDT). Available from AmiNet sites, file

/pub/aminet/util/dtype/jfif_dtc.lha. (The version dated 12/12/94

has a bug; you should also get /pub/aminet/util/dtype/jfif_FIX.lha.)

A newer JPEG datatype is now available that supports progressive JPEG.

See AmiNet sites, file /pub/aminet/util/dtype/JFIFdt44.lha. Shareware.

The free IJG JPEG software is available compiled for Amigas from AmiNet

sites, file /pub/aminet/gfx/conv/jpegV6bin.lha. (Despite the name, this

is now version 6a.) These programs convert JPEG to/from PPM, GIF, BMP,

Targa formats.

If you have a DCTV box or a compatible display, try JPEGonDCTV. Available

from AmiNet sites, file /pub/aminet/gfx/show/JPEGonDCTV100.lha. Viewtek is

also reported to work well with DCTV.

Subject: [10] Atari ST

GEM-View (shareware, $26) displays JPEG, GIF, and other image formats. FTP from

This is a well regarded viewer. The English documentation tends to be a few versions behind, though.

MGIF is a good free viewer/editor for JPEG and many other image formats.

It's particularly good on monochrome monitors, where it manages to achieve four-level gray-scale effect by flickering; but it works on all Ataris.

Version 5.00 is at

1stGuide is a small, fast viewer for all ST/TT/Falcon systems; it supports

JPEG, PNG, and other file formats. Shareware, $35. Available from

The free IJG JPEG software is available compiled for Atari ST/TT/etc


These programs convert JPEG to/from PPM, BMP, Targa formats.

Subject: [11] Acorn Archimedes

The Acorn archive at  contains several JPEG-capable programs. Read the file for retrieval instructions. Recommended archive entries include:

Another widely used image viewer/converter is Translator. Current release is 8.02, from  Shareware .

SpriteExtend 0.99 comes with ROS 3.6, and is available for ROS 3.5 from . It provides very fast JPEG decoding, but sacrifices image quality on 256-color displays.

Subject: [12] NeXT

OmniImageFilter is a filter package that converts NeXTStep TIFF to and from about 30 image formats. It reads JPEG but does not write it. It works with most NeXTStep programs that handle drag-and-drop. OmniImage is a simple image viewer that uses the filter package. Both are free. Available from  and

ImageViewer is a PD utility that displays images and can do some format conversions. The current version reads JPEG but does not write it. ImageViewer is available from the NeXT archives at and . Note that there is an older version floating around that does not support JPEG.

The "imagetools" archive at  includes NeXTStep compiled binaries for a wide array of free image manipulation tools including the IJG JPEG tools.

NeXTStep includes built-in support for TIFF/JPEG, but not for the Usenet-standard JFIF format. Be warned that the TIFF/JPEG standard is about to change away from the flavor currently produced by NeXTStep, so compatibility with other platforms is doubtful.

Subject: [13] Tcl/Tk

Jan Nijtmans' "Img" package is a dynamically loadable Tcl/Tk extension that adds full support for JPEG, PNG, and TIFF images to the Tk photo widget. There are a number of incomplete JPEG Tk extensions floating around the net, but this is the only one I'd recommend. Version 1.1.4 is free and available from  (source code and some binary distributions). Works on Unix and Windows; no Mac port yet.

Subject: [14] Other systems

If you don't see what you want for your machine, check out the free IJG source code described in the next section. Assuming you have a C compiler and at least a little knowledge of compiling C programs, you should be able to prepare JPEG conversion programs from the source code. You'll also need a viewer program. If your display is 8 bits or less, any GIF viewer will do fine; if you have a display with more color capability, try to find a viewer that can read Targa, BMP, or PPM 24-bit image files.

Subject: [15] Freely available source code for JPEG

Free, portable C code for JPEG compression is available from the Independent JPEG Group. Source code, documentation, and test files are included. Version 6b is available from

If you are on a PC you may prefer ZIP archive format, which you can find at  (or at any Simtel mirror site). On CompuServe, see the Graphics Learning forum (GO CIS:LEARN), library 12 "JPEG Tools", file

The IJG code includes a reusable JPEG compression/decompression library, plus sample applications "cjpeg" and "djpeg", which perform conversion between JPEG JFIF format and image files in PPM/PGM (PBMPLUS), BMP, Utah RLE, and Targa formats. A third application "jpegtran" provides lossless transcoding between different JPEG formats --- for example, it can convert a baseline JPEG file to an equivalent progressive JPEG file.

jpegtran can also do lossless rotation and flipping of JPEG files. Two

small applications "wrjpgcom" and "rdjpgcom" insert and extract textual

comments in JFIF files. The package is highly portable; it has been used

successfully on many machines ranging from Apple IIs to Crays.

The IJG code is free for both noncommercial and commercial use; only an acknowledgement in your documentation is required to use it in a product. (See the README file in the distribution for details.)

The IJG code has recently been translated into Pascal --- see . This version has been tested under Turbo Pascal and Delphi, and it should be portable to compatible Pascal compilers.

A different free JPEG implementation, written by the PVRG group at Stanford, is available from The PVRG code is designed for research and experimentation rather than production use; it is slower, harder to use, and less portable than the IJG code, but the PVRG code is easier to understand. Also, the PVRG code supports (the original form of) lossless JPEG, while the IJG code does not. But PVRG does not support progressive JPEG.

There's also a lossless-JPEG-only implementation available from Cornell, Caution: the Cornell coder is known to have bugs for 16-bit data.

Neither the PVRG nor Cornell codecs are being actively maintained, but the IJG code is.

Subject: [16] Which programs support progressive JPEG?

With luck, this will only be a Frequently Asked Question for a short time, after which most JPEG-supporting programs will have been upgraded to include p-JPEG capability. But right now it's a hot topic. Here's the latest I've heard (if you have newer info, please send mail):

WWW Browsers:

Netscape 2.0b1 (Unix/X, Windows, Mac, OS/2): full implementation

Spyglass Enhanced Mosaic 2.1 (Unix/X, Windows, Mac): full implementation

(Note: lots of other people license Spyglass' code, but I don't know

which licensees are shipping the latest version.)

Netshark 1.1 (Windows, Mac): full implementation

Microsoft Internet Explorer 2.0 (Windows): no incremental display

(there are rumors that MSIE 5 will finally do progressive display properly)

Microsoft Internet Explorer 2.0 (Mac): full implementation

AOL 3.0 (Windows, Mac): full implementation

Java 1.0 (Windows 95/NT, Solaris, more coming): full implementation

OmniWeb 2.0 (NeXTStep): full implementation

Wollongong's Emissary 1.1 (Windows): full implementation (? not sure)

I-Comm 1.09beta (Windows): full implementation (?)

UdiWWW 1.0.010 (Windows): full implementation

NCSA Mac Mosaic 3.0a2 (Mac): full implementation

NCSA Windows Mosaic 2.1.1 (Windows): reads p-JPEG, no incremental display

NCSA X Mosaic 2.7b2 (Unix/X): reads p-JPEG, no incremental display

Arena beta-1e (Unix/X): reads p-JPEG, no incremental display

Fresco 0.72 (Acorn): reads p-JPEG; full incremental display in Release II

(A browser that doesn't do incremental display of images won't be able to

give you the progressive effect, but it's still useful to have p-JPEG

compatibility so that you can at least see the image.)

See "BrowserWatch" at for contact information for these browsers. Versions mentioned are the first to support p-JPEG, not necessarily the current release.

Image Viewers & Converters:

See the appropriate prior sections for exact pointers to these programs.

Note that image viewers generally won't bother with doing incremental display of p-JPEG files; they'll just read them in one pass for speed.

 IJG command-line programs (almost any platform): see section 15 for source code. Precompiled executables are also available for some platforms; see subject heading for your system. You need v6 or later.

XV (Unix/X): recompile v3.10 with IJG v6 to read p-JPEG

ImageMagick (Unix/X): 3.6.6 or later

ACDSee16 (Windows 3.1): 2.0 or later

ACDSee32 (Windows 95/NT): 1.0 or later

LView Pro (Windows 95/NT, or Win 3.1 + Win32s): 1.C or later

Paint Shop Pro (Windows 95/NT): 4.0 or later

PolyView (Windows 95): 2.18 or later

ThumbsPlus (Windows 95/NT, or Win 3.1 + Win32s): 3.0c or later

VuePrint (Windows): 5.0 or later

DISPLAY (DOS): 1.89 or later

SEA (DOS): 1.2b or later

JPEGPROC (OS/2): 1.1.0 or later

PMView (OS/2): 0.92 or later

Adobe Photoshop (Mac, Windows): 4.0 or later

Jade (Mac): all versions

GIFConverter (Mac): 2.4 or later

GraphicConverter (Mac): 2.3.1 or later

ProJPEG (Mac Photoshop plugin): all versions

JPEG Transmogrifier (Mac Photoshop plugin): all versions

DeBabelizer (Mac): 1.6.5 or later

akJFIF datatype (Amiga): 40.1 or later

CyberShow (Amiga): 7.1 or later

Visage (Amiga): 39.12 or later

1stGuide (Atari): 10.Jan.96 or later

Subject: [17] Where are FAQ lists archived?

Many FAQs are crossposted to news.answers. Well-run netnews sites will have

the latest versions available in that newsgroup. However, there are a *lot*

of postings in news.answers, and they can be hard to sort through.

The latest versions of news.answers postings are archived at

You can retrieve this FAQ by FTP as

and If you have no FTP access,

send e-mail to containing the lines

send faqs/jpeg-faq/part1

send faqs/jpeg-faq/part2

(If you don't get a reply, the server may be misreading your return address;

add a line such as "path myname@mysite" to specify your correct e-mail

address to reply to.) For more info about the FAQ archive, retrieve the


The same FAQs are also available from several places on the World Wide Web, of which my favorite is

This FAQ is

Other popular WWW FAQ archives include



tom lane

organizer, Independent JPEG Group or

Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer: