Usually, recompressing JPEGs is a bad idea. They start looking like they're being eaten by spiders. But give JPEGmini some pristine JPEGs and they get smaller without degradation.
Starting our fourth decade: Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously online for 30 years


JPEGmini photo squeezer frees up storage space

April 5, 2014

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2014, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2014, The Post-Standard

Junk expands to fill the space allotted to it.

Buy a new computer with 27 moolabytes of hard drive space, and you will run out of storage within six months. Buy a computer with twice that space, and, yes, you will still run out of storage within six months. Triple it, and you will suffer the same consequences.

It's a law of nature -- and of C. Northcote Parkinson, who came up with the original, which says "Work expands to fill the time allotted to it." You just can't escape it.

Can you do something about this? Well, you can empty the trash or delete those old Bobby Darin songs.

That probably won't help much. Sometimes the stuff taking up all that space is really valuable, like those thousands of family photos you've been collecting since the invention of sunlight.

Thousands? How about tens of thousands? I just rescued part of a jumbled iPhoto database for some friends. After I got rid of inevitable duplicates, the total was 73,318 pictures. They took up 46 gigabytes.

You don't even need to spell "Ouch" to see the problem. One solution, of course, is to store them on an external hard drive. But what if you want them right on your computer? You could keep copies on that external drive, but the originals would need to be on your laptop in that case. There's that "Ouch!" again.

The solution I've come up with is a sort of delaying tactic. It staves off the crunch. I squeeze my photos so they take up a lot less space. The method I use doesn't change my pictures in any noticeable way. All I do is drag a folder of pictures to an icon and let go.

The app is called JPEGmini, available for Macs and Windows PCs from www.jpegmini.com. You can try a free version, but it's limited to no more than 20 photos a day. I bought the full version for $19.95.

JPEGmini performs no magic. It simply compresses JPEG (also called JPG) photos a much better way than the usual JPEG methods do. It analyzes each photo and tailors its compression method appropriately. It has to start with a JPEG -- it won't work with BMPs, PNGs, TIFs or GIFs. That's a definite shortcoming. But there's a reason for this limitation.

Usually, recompressing and resaving JPEG photos is a bad idea. They start looking like they're being eaten by spiders. But give JPEGmini some pristine JPEGs -- ones that are originals, if at all possible -- and they get smaller without a hint of degradation.

Images that go through the JPEGmini crusher are indistinguishable from their originals in every conceivable way. They shed a lot of weight, too. I ran more than 300 GB of photos through JPEGmini and saved more than 120 GB. Some photos trimmed down a great deal, more than 50 percent.

The resulting photos are completely JPEG compatible. In effect, they're the most compatible of all JPEGs, since they are recompressed using the official JPEG methods in the best possible way.

But are the super-squeezed versions truly indistinguishable? I enlarged originals and the squeezed versions side by side in my comparison app. At 100 and 200 percent, no changes were visible. At 400 percent, I could see some changes, all slight. Back at 100 percent, those effects, even when I knew where to look, were simply impossible to see.

If you'd like to put your photos on a diet , JPEGmini might be just what you need.