What is a PNG image?

Understand what a PNG image is, its properties and advantages over other image formats such as JPEG and GIF, and in which application areas PNG is best suited.

What is a PNG image?

PNG (Portable Network Graphics) is a lossless image format developed as an alternative to GIF and widely used on the web. It supports millions of colors, variable transparency, and lossless compression. Compared to other image formats such as JPEG or GIF, PNG offers higher image quality, stronger compression, and improved web functionality.

PNG file properties

  • Lossless compression: Unlike JPEG, which loses some detail when an image is saved, PNG retains full image quality while compressing the file size. This is especially useful for images with sharp edges and distinct colors, such as text, logos, and illustrations.
  • Transparency: PNG supports alpha channels and variable transparency layers, which means that images can be shown on different colored or textured backgrounds without visible borders or unwanted pixels.
  • Color palette: While GIF is limited to a color palette of 256 colors, PNG supports up to 16 million colors, which is also known as Truecolor. This allows for a more realistic representation of photographs and complex images.
  • Interlaced display: PNG enables what is known as interlacing, which allows web images to be displayed gradually as they load. This improves the user experience, as visitors to the page do not have to wait for an image to load completely.

Disadvantages of PNG files

  • File size: When using PNG for complex images and photographs, you usually get larger files compared to other formats like JPEG. These larger file sizes can lead to longer loading times and higher traffic, which can affect the user experience.
  • Browser compatibility: Although PNG is supported by most modern browsers, older browser versions may have problems displaying PNG images.


PNG is a versatile and lossless image format that works well for images with sharp edges, hard colors, and transparency. It offers high-quality images and improved web functionality compared to other file formats such as GIF or JPEG. However, larger file sizes and possible browser compatibility issues with older browser versions are considerations.

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