Photoshop – difference between baseline standard, optimized and progressive?

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I’m using Photoshop to save my painting in JPG format by using the “Save As…” dialog (as opposed to save for web). Towards the end, I get the option to choose from three file formats, and I’m wondering what the difference between these is? The options are:

  • baseline standard
  • optimized
  • progressive

I think progressive is the one used for web, but I’m not certain. I’m simply trying to save the file in the highest quality possible.

-Jim G


First off, our answer applies to the latest version of Photoshop (our link gets you a discount).

  • Baseline (Standard)
    • Pro: Compatible and recognizable by most wev browsers.
    • Con: Does not display the image until your browser has fully downloaded it.
  • Baseline (Optimized):
    • Pro: Reduces file size by optimizing colors in the image (ie. only using those necessary).
    • Con: Not supported by all browsers (but it is supported by virtually all those in use today).
  • Progressive (Scanning):
    • Pro: Downloads the images in passes, or “scans,” allowing it to be viewed before it’s completely downloaded. The first scan will be blurry and low resolution, and with each scan the image quality improves.
    • Con: This is an outdated technology that played a large role with low bandwidth internet (think dial-up and DSL) back in the day. It’s hardly necessary given today’s high speed connections.

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