The term actually stands for "Joint Photographic Experts Group," because that is the name of the committee that developed the format. But you don't have to remember that because even computer nerds will think you're weird if you mention what JPEG stands for. Instead, remember that a JPEG is a compressed image file format. JPEG images are not limited to a certain amount of color, like GIF images are. Therefore, the JPEG format is best for compressing photographic images. So if you see a large, colorful image on the Web, it is most likely a JPEG file.

While JPEG images can contain colorful, high-resolution image data, it is a lossy format, which means some quality is lost when the image is compressed. If the image is compressed too much, the graphics become noticeably "blocky" and some of the detail is lost. Like GIFs, JPEGs are crossplatform, meaning the same file will look the same on both a Mac and PC.

File extensions: .JPG, .JPEG

Updated: March 19, 2007

Definition from the PC Glossary