Making Photos Look Great On Social Media

When preparing images for your website, Houzz, Facebook, or Instagram, we have to find the best balance between file size, quality, and download time. This guide will help you quickly and easily make your photos look great in any online use platform.

I’ve used Houzz and Instagram criteria in the examples. You can apply these general guidelines to any other social media platform and get good results.

I must assume you have access to a copy of Photoshop. If not, there are other options available that use the same approximate terms and actions.

A free image editing program based on Photoshop is available at: www.onlinephotoshopfree.net.

Adobe has a free version of Photoshop as well, but it does not provide the ability to change the canvas size.

Definitions: When I speak of: 

  • Image Format, I am referring to the file type (JPG, Gif, PNG, Tiff, PSD, etc.)
  • File Size, I am referring to the size of the file in kilobytes, megabyte, or gigabytes.
  • Image Size, I am referring to the physical dimensions of the image (e.g. 10 24.x.768 pixels.) 
  • Image Quality, I am referring to the subjective representational quality of the image.
  • Image Compression, I am referring to the “compression” or “quality” setting when saving JPG files.

Image Format:

  • Use JPG files for any online use. 
    • JPG files are the “straight line” solution to sharing photographs online. 
    • They provide the best compromise between great quality and file size.
  • Tiff and PSD files are too large. 
  • GIF and PNG files are special purpose files that require specialized skills to use properly. 

File Size:

Note: For social media, we only need to upload large display images that meet these image size criteria. Their software will create the thumbnail and intermediate images they need.

Every social media platform has its own unique file size specifications. I’ve included those for Houzz, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest in the table below.

*I can’t help with the dimensions for your website, but this white paper will help with file preparation.

 

Platform

There is no benefit to using an image sized larger than the maximum allowed on any social media platform.

Size in Pixels:

  • Houzz -2400 pixels on the long dimension
  •  Instagram - 2048 Pixels Square, or Horizontal (1080 looks great on phones, 2048 is needed to look great on iPads.)
  • Facebook - 630 Pixels on the long dimension
  • Pinterest - 600 Pixels Wide

 

   Step-by-Step: We’ll optimize this image for Houzz as our example.

 

These instructions are done using Photoshop. The process is the same using other photo applications but with a different interface. If you don’t have Photoshop, you can google “photoshop online free” and find an online application that uses this same basic interface.

 

  1. First, open an image in Photoshop.
  2. Second, define the “Color Space.” Most of the time you won’t need to do this. If we don’t do this step, the image may look like the paint was selected by someone who is color blind.

 

a) Go to the menu bar “Edit”

Sahi Master bedroom for Sabrina Alfin by Dean Birinyi

b) Click “Convert to Profile” as shown below

1b.jpeg

c) Click on the “Destination Space” drop down.
You will be presented with an astonishing array of choices. Find and select sRGB; ignore all the others and click “OK”.

Sahi Master bedroom for Sabrina Alfin by Dean Birinyi

    3.    Third, define the size of the image.
a) In the top menu bar, select “Image” and then “Image Size.”

Sahi Master bedroom for Sabrina Alfin by Dean Birinyi

b) Define the “Resolution.” All images on the web are displayed at 72 Dpi.

Sahi Master bedroom for Sabrina Alfin by Dean Birinyi

c) Define the dimension of your image in pixels. Houzz wants images 2400 pixels on the long dimension. Please refer to the chart above for specifications for other social media platforms.

Sahi Master bedroom for Sabrina Alfin by Dean Birinyi

d) Resample should be “Automatic.”

  1. I suggest you let the computer do its job. Your images will look great.
  2. Resampling relates to sharpening. Sharpening images is an art. 
Sahi Master bedroom for Sabrina Alfin by Dean Birinyi

4. Now, save the file and define its “compression or “quality.”
a) Go to the menu bar “File” and click “Save As.”

Sahi Master bedroom for Sabrina Alfin by Dean Birinyi


1) I use a folder specifically for social media images called “SocialMediaLibrary.”
2) Define where you want the images saved.

SAVE B.jpeg

b) Select JPG from the “Format” dropdown.

Sahi Master bedroom for Sabrina Alfin by Dean Birinyi

c) Click “Save.”

Sahi Master bedroom for Sabrina Alfin by Dean Birinyi

1. A new window will open titled “JPG Options.” This panel refers to the amount of file compression. 

2) I use a 5, Medium, or 50% quality option for social media files .

3) I also use a 50% quality setting for the images on my website because I’ve learned that having a fast loading website is more important than fine detail in the images.

 

 

Next: Special considerations for Instagram.Instagram has unique concerns because they prefer images be square format or horizontal. 

 

If your image is horizontal, all you need do is to resize to 1080 pixels - BUT you must pinch the image down when posting to ensure the entire image is shown. Because of this Instagram eccentricity, I usually make al  l my images square. I’ll explain how in step 6 below.

 

  1. Begin by opening an image in Photoshop. Please refer to steps 1and 2 above. 

 

3. Resizing for Instagram.

 

    1. In the top menu bar, select “Image” and then “Image Size.”

 

    1. Define the “Resolution.” All images on the web are displayed at 72 Dpi.Define the dimension of your image in pixels. Instagram wants image 1080x1080 pixels. Please refer to the chart above for specifications for other social media platforms.

 

    1. Resample should be “Automatic.”
      1. Resampling relates to sharpening. Sharpening images is an art.   
      2. I suggest you let the computer do its job. Your images will look great.

 

  1. Now we make the image square by adding white borders to either the top and bottom or both sides.

 

  1. In the top menu bar, select “Image” and then “Canvas Size."
  2. Click the dropdown menu on the bottom of the panel labled “Canvas extension c  olor” and select "White." You can select any color you choose. I prefer white.

 

    1. The default is for the canvas extension to be centered, which is what we want for Instagram.
    2. Define the size to be 1080x1080 pixels by typing the numbers in the field and clicking on   the dropdown menu.
    3. Your image will be given the proper white border whether it is in a vertical or horizontal format.

 

    1. After that, simply follow step 4 above, and you’re all done and ready to post to the web.