What is the WebP format and how to avoid it

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If you’ve tried saving images from the web, you may have noticed an unknown image format called WebP. This image file format is supposed to replace other formats such as JPEG, PNG, and GIF files, but it has not yet become a popular option.

If you download data in WebP image format, you may have trouble opening it. Luckily, there are plenty of image converters you can use to turn it into a slightly more usable format.

What is WebP?

WebP was first announced in 2010 but was only released in April 2018. Although it can be difficult to interact with, the WebP format has advantages. First of all, it supports both lossy image compression and lossless image compression. In other words, the data can be compressed to significantly smaller sizes while being perfectly reconstructed, or further compressed at the cost of some image quality.

The main advantage of WebP is that it can produce files of the same image quality as many popular formats with a smaller file size. It’s not just for images, though: WebP can also be used for animation files as well as ICC profiles, XMP and Exif metadata, and more. WebP also supports transparency, also known as alpha channel.

Which browsers support WebP?

Google Chrome natively supports WebP for lossy, lossless, and animation formats, provided you’re using the latest versions. Firefox, Opera, and Microsoft Edge also support all of these formats.

Pale Moon, a popular open-source browser derived from Mozilla, as well as the Google Chrome browser for Android support lossy and lossless WebP formats.

If you’re still using Internet Explorer – a bad idea due to lack of support – you’re out of luck. There is no WebP support for the browser.

Some people still mistakenly believe that the Safari browser does not support WebP, but Apple added support for the format in Safari 14 for Mac and iOS devices.

WebP example

How does WebP work?

Image compression has been a fixture of the internet for many years now, but different methods take different approaches. WebP is one of the most advanced ways to reduce image size without reducing image quality.

How it works depends on the type of compression. WebP lossy compression uses a tool called predictive coding, which looks at pixel values ​​to predict the values ​​around it. It encodes the difference between these values. Although effective in reducing file size, it also reduces image quality.

WebP lossless compression is slightly less effective at reducing image size, but retains the same level of quality. It works by identifying image fragments to reconstruct new pixels, or uses matching color palettes if no image fragment can be found.

Depending on the use case, WebP can result in file sizes up to three times smaller than PNG.

What are the benefits of using WebP?

WebP has caught on and spread in popularity for several good reasons, the first of which is superior compression rates. In other words, WebP images occupy less bandwidth than another file type like JPG; That said, WebP images are only delivered when the browser supports it, while a JPEG or equivalent image is delivered if the browser does not support it.

Smaller image sizes speed up web page load times, especially on machines that struggle to load high-quality images. If you are aiming for maximum optimization of your website, a WebP file is one of the best tools available to you.

What are the disadvantages of using WebP?

The main obstacle to WebP is compatibility. Although most major browsers support WebP image files, not all do. Fortunately, WebP is no longer limited by operating system and is available on both Linux and macOS.

Another disadvantage is that some loss of image quality remains if you use the lossy format. The file size gets much smaller, but due to how the compression algorithm works, there’s no way to avoid at least a drop in quality.

A final hurdle is the compatibility of moving using WebP with content management systems like WordPress. If you want to drop an image online into your media library, you may find that WordPress will not accept the file type. According to WordPress, version 5.8 of the software supports WebP the same way it supports PNGs and JPEGs, but if you haven’t updated your website, this could be a problem.

How to save a WebP image in a different format

The traditional way of saving images doesn’t always work with WebP, at least not if you lack the right tools. When you select Save As, you may find that you have no other image format options.

Conversion plugins

A quick fix is ​​to install a conversion plugin. Plugins like this will let you convert WebP to something like a PNG image right in your browser before saving it. One option is Save image as type in the Chrome store.

Use paint

If you use Windows, you can use Microsoft Paint to open a downloaded WebP file and convert it to another format without downloading additional software.

Use another browser

If you load a WebP image in a browser that does not support the format, another file type will be loaded instead. From there, you can save the image as you normally would as a JPG or PNG file.

WebP can be irritating, especially if you save a lot of images from the Internet, but it can also be a boon for web hosts around the world. Don’t lose your temper if you encounter him; in just a few steps, you can circumvent the biggest problems.

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