How to Upload Photos to Facebook at the Best Quality Possible

How to Get Good Quality Photos on Facebook

Facebook is a great tool for sharing your images online with friends and family. Many of us do this on a regular basis, but photographers will often find their images heavily compressed. You’ve probably uploaded a photo that looked fine on your computer, but once on Facebook it looked soft and not as good!

This guide will give you all the top tips for uploading images to Facebook and retaining as much quality as possible. I will cover optimum sizes, file types and other tips for getting the most out of your image.

Why does Facebook make images lose quality?

To assist fast webpage loading times for its users, Facebook compresses all images uploaded to it. As this is done automatically, your images are subjected to a default compression, which more than likely does not suit them.

Facebook supports photos that are either 720px, 960px, or 2048px on their longest edge. Any other sizes will have their dimensions reduced automatically, and this inevitably results in visually poorer images. Reducing the dimensions of an image decreases its sharpness, especially if it is a drastic resize.

Reducing Compression in JPEG Files

Facebook will always compress your images, there’s no getting around that. However, there are some tricks to reducing the amount of compression that occurs.

The most important factor is the dimensions of your image. Make sure you upload your photo at exactly 2048px on its longest edge. Facebook won’t change the dimensions of your image, so there is a lot less file compression required and your photo remains sharp. If you aren’t comfortable uploading such a large file, then ensure that you upload a 960px longest edge photo instead.

Once you’ve resized the image, look to see if it appears sharp enough. Make sure you are viewing the image at 100% size in your editing software. If it looks soft having been resized, sharpen it a little. Then, use Adobe Photoshop’s “Save for Web” function. Ensure that the image is selected to compress to a JPEG file at 70% quality, whilst also converting it to an sRGB colour profile. More detail about using this function can be found in our article “Preparing a Photo for Web Use“.

Best Quality Facebook Upload

Does It Really Work?

Yes it does, and I was surprised at the degree to which it improves image quality. Here is a comparison of a photograph uploaded at two different set of settings. I’ve cropped in on the puffin that is part of a larger photo so that you can see the details. The sample on the left was uploaded at an obscure size of 1096px longest edge using a colour profile of Adobe RGB (1998). You can see that the colours are lost slightly, especially around the eye. The image loses sharpness drastically, too.

How to Upload Photos to Facebook with Good Quality

The image on the right, however, was uploaded at 2048px longest side with an sRGB colour profile. I also used the save for web function, as mentioned above, saving at 70% JPEG quality. As you can see, the image looks a lot better for it. The colours are stronger, and reflect those of the original file. You can see red details around the eye and beak more clearly. The clarity and sharpness of the image is also still there.

The Benefits of Using PNG Files

What Facebook won’t tell you, is that you can upload a PNG file at any size you wish and achieve a similar effect. Don’t forget to convert it to sRGB as well, but you aren’t restricted on your dimensions this way.

To do this, just save your photo as a PNG file using your editing software. You can also use the “Save for Web” function in Photoshop for this by selecting PNG-24 from the drop down list.

Some photographers argue that PNG produces even better results than JPEG. So, try it out! Facebook doesn’t mention this, strangely enough, but it is another great way to get your images looking good online.

Further Reading: “How to Use Facebook to Promote Your Photography

Summary

So as you can see, images don’t have to look horribly compressed as soon as you upload them to Facebook. Just follow the steps above, and you’ll be wishing you knew this earlier!

Here is a summary of what I’ve covered, in 4 quick and easy steps.

  1. Resize your image to 2048px on its longest edge.
  2. Use the “Save for Web” function, and select 70% JPEG quality.
  3. Make sure the file is converted to the sRGB colour profile.
  4. Upload it to Facebook, and make sure you tick “high quality” if you are given the option (usually only for uploading albums).

Or, try using PNG files, as mentioned above!

Remember, if you’re uploading images online you may want to protect them. We’ve written instructions for how to find websites that are using your photos without permission – make sure to read this! It can throw up some very interesting results.

You can also read up on how to watermark a photo to deter those who may want your image for themselves!

 

Will Nicholls is the founder of Nature TTL and a professional wildlife photographer and film-maker from England. Having been photographing since the age of 12, Will's images have won a string of awards, including the title of "Young British Wildlife Photographer of the Year" in 2009 from the British Wildlife Photography Awards. Will is also the author of the book On the Trail of Red Squirrels.

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  • Another way is to use the built-in Facebook export function In Lightroom 5. Do you think this produces equal quality to the technique above?

    • I’ve never tried it Phil, but feel free to post some test shots. 🙂

      • Willy Foo

        Yes it will

        • Good to know! I’m not a big Lightroom user.

          • Really? I realise this is OT, but what are you using, if not LR? C1? Aperture? Certainly not ACR when LR has the catalog and printing capability.

  • Evan

    Can facebook handle any other image formats? i.e. png or tiff?

    • Yes, check the article again as I’ve just added some info about PNG files. TIFF, I don’t believe so! There’s no need to upload such a huge file like a TIFF anyway.

  • Tom Dullage

    Very useful tips, Will, thanks.

  • Matt

    Tiff files are supported Will on Facebook, i have been uploading in this format for sometime and found the results to be fine other then odd compression issue against single colour backgrounds such as clear blue skies. Lightroom doesn’t support PNG unless a plugin is used.. Ive found that smaller sizes look fine on computer screen but quality loss when viewing on tablets can be high.. Good tutorial.

    • I stand corrected – I’ve never done it before.

  • Kanwar

    Thanks Will, this is very helpful indeed!

  • Tom

    Lightroom 4 doesn’t seem to have this option, only export?

    • Chris Pearson

      You can set up an export the same way, long edge is an option as is sRGB. I just saved it as a preset to save time, I can even right click export to the correct format now.

  • Matt

    Thanks for the artical, as Facebook reducing image quality has been annoying me for a long while.

    However not sure about the ‘960’ pixel size… tried this and the image still lost alot of image quality – and was reduced to 860 pixels by facebook.

  • Peter Hogg

    I have complained to FAA in that when linked to facefbook the images loaded to FAA are compressed and put on FaceBook and Twitter… the images on Twitter are better than those on FaceBook… however you can’t load your images onto FAA with this given pixel dimension unless that’s the maximum size you want to sell the image at. The problem is really FAA and how they chose to compress to send to Facebook, but frankly I’ve found Facebook to be a useless place to sell or fine art. As far as uploading tiff files, that is purely a waste of space and time as a properly load and corrected jpg will do the trick and that’s what jpg’s are for. I use some very high quality labs to do my outputs and have images up to 6′ printed and all are finalized and output as jpgs. Use your tiffs for correction as they have have all the information, then save as jpgs.

  • Nikki

    Thanks for the article but I don’t understand why you reduce the quality to 70%, surely that is a huge loss to start with. I tend not to use the ‘save for web’ method and just use ‘save as’ at highest quality of 12. There is a huge difference in image quality between these 2.

    • I believe that the reduction in size means Facebook doesn’t compress the file size as much, which crunches the visual quality.

      • Nikki

        I have to disagree on that. Facebook might not compress as much as much because of that but you have done it for them. Carry out tests for yourself and you will see. I can upload the same image at highest quality and at 70% and the poorest rendition is the 70% one by a mile. The key is the physical pixel dimensions as far as I can see. If you stick to their recommendations, quality remains ver high, for me at least.

  • Me

    The question is why would a photographer WANT to upload their photos directly to facebook? If you read FB’s TOC’s it states,

    “For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”

    Why would you want to give FB a “a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license”? That’s not very smart. A much better plan is to simply post a link to your offsite content and drive users to your own site.

    • It’s there to cover Facebook for the share option which allows other users to post it on their timeline. Thousands and thousands of photographers post to Facebook and there’s no problems.

      If you are worried, a watermark would mean any version Facebook uses has your name plastered across it. Personally, I gain more from posting my images to Facebook that it is worth a “risk” in this respect!

  • Do you have any recommendations about uploading to Twitter?

    • I haven’t really thought that quality degrades when uploading to Twitter – perhaps you disagree? If so, try the PNG method and see if that makes a difference.

  • Souradip Bhattacharya

    Thank you very much for your suggestion….it really works….. 🙂

  • Ibad Sohail

    my pictures are taking too long to upload on Facebook inbox but when i upload on wall post it uploads quickly i have DSLR Canon 60-D when i compress these pictures from photoshop it uploads quickly on facebook inbox too what is the reason???

    • This is something you will probably have to ask Facebook. But it sounds like an issue with a slow connection.

      • Ibad Sohail

        but it is not taking long to upload on wall post same picture of same size in wall post it takes hardly 2 minutes but in facebook inbox it takes more than 15 minutes….. it is not the issue of my camera ????

        • You’ll need to ask Facebook – I can’t help you with that unfortunately.

          • Ibad Sohail

            okay sir thank you so much for your wonderful opinion 🙂

      • Ibad Sohail

        i am waiting for your reply

  • Mary F Swift

    Really useful article Will – thanks very much!

  • Donu

    Why 70% and not 100% jpeg quality??

  • 960px and PNG works very good. I was very desperate, because my photos looked very bad on desktops when posted to Facebook.
    I did not want to make it 2048px, because you know.
    Thank you! 🙂

  • Héctor

    Can the the same be achived using the LR export?

    • You can do this with the JPEG settings in Lightroom, but to export PNG you will need some sort of Lightroom plugin or extension.

  • Vicky Riggins

    I believe this information is now outdated?, Am I correct?