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Compressing an Image in Photoshop Elements

Photoshop Elements and Photoshop are almost identical in their Web image capabilities, and that's a good thing. Both include ImageReady, which used to be a separate program but which is now very usefully integrated into its bigger brothers. While the steps in this article are specifically for Photoshop Elements, you'll find very little difference between it and Photoshop.

With ImageReady — which is not noticeable as a separate program, being fully integrated — Photoshop Elements and Photoshop have the ultimate range of options for saving JPEG images. You may find that you spend extra time in these programs using all the JPEG-related options, but you won't mind the extra time, because you'll be going through just about every conceivable option and cross check you could imagine for a JPEG image.

Photoshop Elements and Photoshop make the entire process far easier than it used to be, and arguably easier than in any other program. But don't take our word for it; follow these steps to save a file as JPEG in Photoshop Elements:

1. Open Photoshop Elements by choosing Start --> Programs --> Photoshop Elements 2.0.

2. Open an image to experiment with.

If you copy an image from the clipboard, choose File --> New from Clipboard.

3. Choose File --> Save As (Ctrl+Shift+S) to save the original image.

Because Photoshop Elements saves the JPEG version of the image separately, you may not think you need to save the original before starting. However, there's always the chance of a computer crash during the process of optimizing the file for JPEG, so it's best to save the original before proceeding.

Working with a memory- and disk-intensive process, such as experimenting with various JPEG options, seems to be more likely to crash your computer than most other things you might use it for. Save everything that's currently open, and consider closing some files or programs for maximum protection.

4. Choose File --> Save For Web (Alt+Shift+Ctrl+S) or choose the Save For Web icon in the Shortcuts bar.

The Save For Web dialog box appears. The Save For Web dialog box enables you to simultaneously view much or all of the original image, a preview of the compressed image, and relevant settings and download speed information.

5. Inspect the settings contained in the Save For Web dialog box.

The JPEG quality setting is set to Maximum/100 by default. Look at the preview and check the estimated file size and file download time.

6. Adjust the quality settings — High (60%), Medium (30%), and Low (10%) — in the Settings drop-down list and then fine-tune the numeric settings in the Quality text box.

Watch the quality of the preview image change. Observe the estimated file size and download time changing. Type a number, such as 40 or 50 percent, to make additional changes to the numeric setting.

The availability of the rough settings — High, Medium, and Low — alongside numeric settings can be confusing, but can also be a time-saver. Get in the habit of trying the rough settings first to get your bearings before diving into changing the specific numeric settings.

Photoshop and Photoshop Elements use lower compression values to indicate more compression and a smaller file size (100 = least compression, 1 = most); Paint Shop Pro does the opposite. This can be confusing if you switch between the programs, or use one and talk to people who use the other.

7. Click the triangle next to the preview window and change the transmission speed setting and observe the effect on the estimated download time. Experiment further using the Zoom tool and the Hand tool in the upper-left corner to inspect the preview image closely.

The 56 Kbps setting represents the most common modem in current use. Cut the number of seconds needed at 56 Kbps in half to approximate the likely broadband download time — though most broadband pipes are wider than that, various choke points on the Internet usually prevent actual transmission speed from reaching its theoretical maximum.

8. Experiment with the different options available next to the triangle to see how your image will look with a browser dither, or with uncorrected, PC and Macintosh color profiles.

The Browser Dither option shows what you can expect if your JPEG image is shown on a limited, 256-color graphics display subsystem, or on a computer that's been set to show graphics in 8-bit color.

9. Use the Preview In area in the lower middle of the dialog box to preview your image in various Web browsers.

10. Click OK when you're ready to save your image.

The Save Optimized As dialog box appears. Navigate to the folder you want to save your image in, and then click Save to save the image.

You're done!

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