Most people have noticed that images lose quality and look bad when they get uploaded to Facebook.
This happens because Facebook automatically adds a strong compression on uploaded images, and unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot you can do to prevent it.
Adding further insult to injury, unless you resize yourself, you will make things a lot worse.
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I will go more in-depth below, and explain some additional steps that further improve quality, but here is the quick guide:
1) Resize your image to 2048 pixels on the longest edge
2) Save for web as JPEG with 70% quality setting
3) Upload to Facebook with the “high quality” checkbox selected (where it is applicable)
The most important factor to getting the best Facebook quality is the image pixel dimensions. You absolutely MUST stay below 2048 pixels on the longest edge.
Using exactly 2048 pixels on the longest edge is best. But if you want to upload smaller images, you should use 960 pixels on the longest edge.
If you use Photoshop I recommend the built in “Save for Web”, and also make sure you have “Convert to sRGB” option selected.
My preferred method involves a few more steps, but each of them adds a little bit to the end result quality:
1) Resize your image to 2048 pixels on the longest edge (Using resample method Bicubic Smoother)
2) Add sharpening (Selectively)
3) Add a little bit of grain (To help with banding that often occur when images are compressed)
4) Save for web as JPEG with 90% quality setting
5) Process the image trough a JPEG-minifier such as JPEGmini (http://www.jpegmini.com/)
6) Upload to Facebook with the “high quality” checkbox selected (where it is applicable)
Use resample method: Bicubic Smoother
When you downsize an image with the default options in Photoshop, it will add sharpening. I have found that you get a better result if you skip the sharpening in this step and add it manually after.
Add selective sharpening
There are quite a few of methods of sharpening your image. One of my favourite ways is using the High Pass filter.
Applying your sharpening selectively simply means that you add a layer mask to it.
Images with similar tones often show banding when compressed. Adding a little bit of grain helps prevent this.
Use a JPEG-minifier
Instead of using the default compression, I save my JPEG in high quality and then process them using a minifier software called JPEGmini
There are other free alternatives, but they are not very user friendly nor are they as good. I use this software on all images that I upload to Internet and it saves both disk space and band width – and it also makes my web site load faster.
(The software cost is only $19.99, so I think it is a fairly cheap investment.)
Before you resize or merge your layers, make a duplicate of the image. This will prevent you from accidentally saving over your original file and destroying it in the process.
You can do this in the menu under Image > Duplicate…
If you use 960px on the long edge you also have the option to upload in PNG-24. If you do this then Facebook will not touch your image at all.
However if you use 2048px on the long edge then Facebook will convert your image to JPEG. This is not always a bad idea, since it means the image does not compress twice. BUT I have found that it gives a very unreliable result. This is why I use JPEG as my default setting.
There is a rumour that if you keep your image file below a certain file size, Facebook will not alter your image. While it is logical if this were the case, unfortunately it is not true. No matter how small your image is – Facebook will still compress it. I have verified this on several occasions.
These are my settings when I export from Lightroom (Use 70% quality setting, if you aren’t using the JPEGmini software):
I hope you have found this article useful. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Last updated: 2014-09-10