Posts Tagged ‘image compression’

Bulk Image Compression with Photoshop Droplets

Aug ‘08 10

I recently exported a bunch of photos from iPhoto for an article I am working on, and discovered there was very little compression applied. Even at a lower 640 by 480 dimension size, the 30 images totaled 5.4 MB in size!

I needed a way to quickly compress these, and then I remembered Photoshop’s ability to create Droplets. A Droplet is an icon created by Photoshop that launches Actions on files that you drag on top of it. The resulting file is then saved in a folder of your choice.

This allows me to drag all 30 images on to the Droplet, and have Photoshop compress the entire batch automatically.

For those of you that learn by watching, I created a 5 minute screencast showing how it’s done.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

For those of you that learn by reading, read on!

Step 1: Open a Test Image

In Photoshop, open up any image. The image is not important, you simply want something you can record your actions on.

Step 2: Record a New Action

In Photoshop, open the Window…Actions panel.

actions panel

Click the Create new action button.

create new action in actions panel

Give the Action a name descriptive of what it does. We will name ours JPEG50, because this Action will save out a JPEG at 50 Quality.

Click Record.

Step 3: Save For Web

Your Action is now recording, so be careful from here on out!

Tip: If you wanted to resize the image, or apply Filters before saving, you could do that and Photoshop will record these steps!

file save for web

Click File…Save for Web & Devices.

save for web jpeg settings

Set the compression type to JPEG, and choose a Quality setting you like. We recommend 50 Quality for optimum visual quality to file size.

Unless these files will be used in Flash, always use the Progressive option. It enables your JPEGs to render progressively in your user’s browser.

Click Save.

Step 4: Choose a Location for Compressed Images

You will need to create a folder for the compressed images, so when the Action or Droplet is run you know where the resulting files go.

compressed images save folder

We will create a new folder on our Desktop called Compressed JPEG 50 Progressive, descriptive so we know what it’s for.

Create the folder and click Save.

Step 5: Stop Recording Actions

stop recording the action

Click the Stop button on the Actions panel to stop recording.

Step 6: Create a Droplet

create droplet menu

To create your Droplet, click File…Automate…Create Droplet…

save droplet in a new folder

Choose a location to save your droplet that is easy to get to, like the Desktop.

choose action for droplet

Choose the Set and Action you just created for the Droplet.

Ensure Suppress File Open Options Dialogs and Suppress Color Profile Warnings are both checked.

When finished, click OK.

Step 7: Try it!

drag files on to the droplet

Drag the images you want to compress on to the Droplet.

If all goes well, the resulting optimized JPEGs will be in the Compressed folder you created in Step 4.

Step 8: Review Results

Let’s check out the before and after in terms of quality and file size.

Before at 234 KB:

photo before optimization

After at 84 KB:

optimized photo at 50 quality

We had a savings of 150 KB, 64% of the original size! The quality is also quite good.

If you happen to be viewing this page in Safari, you will notice that the colors are different than the original. This is because Safari supports color management, and we should address this.

For you non-Safari users, here is an image showing the original (top) against the optimized (bottom) version:

grass needing color correction

Notice how the grass in the original is much richer than the optimized version. See what you are missing out on? This is because I don’t have Photoshop configured to automatically convert Color Profile mismatches to the Working Space.

Color Correction in Photoshop

To fix this, go to Edit…Color Settings.

color management in photoshop

When working on the web (RGB), you always want to use your Monitor’s profile to ensure your images look the same across browsers. In my case, it is the Color LCD profile.

Under Color Management Policies, ensure RGB is set to Convert to Working RGB and all checkboxes are off. This way you won’t be bothered again.

Finally, run your images through the Droplet again. The colors should more closely match the originals now.

After Color Correction (84 KB):

after color correction

Much better, as it was meant to be seen. Good thing we checked for quality!

Image Compression Impact on Page Load Times

Altogether, we were able to quickly optimize 30 images from 5.4 MB to 1.9 MB, a savings of 3.5 MB or 65%. Let’s see how this plays out in page load times.

I created two test pages, one with our original photos and one with our optimized photos, and ran them through Pagetest to see the difference.

Original Photos – Speed Test Results

  • Average Load Time: 33 seconds
  • Bytes In: 5439 KB

Optimized Photos – Speed Test Results

  • Average Load Time: 13 seconds
  • Bytes In: 1865 KB


  • Load Time: 20 seconds (60%)
  • Bytes In: 3574 KB (66%)

The results are in amigo – the optimized images loaded 20 seconds faster!

Final Thoughts

Droplets can be a nice way of getting your optimization work done quickly, but at the cost of missing opportunities where you might save even more bytes by saving at lower a Quality – or the reverse, compromising quality at the cost of lower bytes. Always experiment and push to find a balance between low KB and image quality.

Did you know that Pagetest has an image compression check? It tests all JPEGs to see if they are saved at the equivalent of 50% Quality in Photoshop. Use the Pagetest Optimization Report (sample of our test here) to help you spot areas of your site where you might need to share our JPEG 50 Droplet with those responsible for the heavy images.

By loading images faster, you are helping your users consume them faster and thus giving them more reason to stay around.

Please index me, experiment!

“Note to self: Remember no matter how bad life gets, there is always beer!” — Mitch Weaver