June 4, 2020

Pixelmator Pro adds WebP support

Pixelmator Pro 1.6.4 is out today, adding support for the WebP image format. And since this format is pretty interesting and unique, we wanted to share the news about today’s update here on our blog!

WebP support in Pixelmator Pro

First, a little about WebP support in Pixelmator Pro itself. It’s pretty extensive and we’ve added a few different things:

  • Support for both opening and exporting WebP images
  • Lossless compression and lossy compression with adjustable quality
  • Transparency (for both lossless and lossy compressed images)
  • A Quick Look plug-in so you can preview WebP images in the Finder

Awesome! If you’re not too familiar with it, you might be wondering — what is WebP and why is it such an interesting format? Well, it’s one of the candidates to be the next-gen format for displaying images on the web thanks to some improvements over the two main existing formats, JPEG and PNG.

Lossless and lossy compression

One reason for WebP’s promise is that it offers both lossless and lossy compression. What’s that? Well, compression refers to reducing the size of an image. Lossless compression is when you reduce the size of an image with no data (i.e. quality) loss, hence the term lossless. Lossy compression reduces the size of an image with some potentially “unnecessary” data being discarded or lost, hence the term lossy.

Compression methods

Lossless compression
Lossy compression
Used by the PNG format
Used by the JPEG format
All image data preserved
Some image data lost
Larger file sizes
Smaller file sizes

Even though it offers lossy compression and, theoretically, loses some data, JPEG is a great format for the web as it reduces the size of images dramatically and there’s no perceptible drop in quality when saving with a high enough quality setting.

However, as JPEG offers only lossy compression, if you’re looking to ensure you get no data loss at all, you have to use a different format: PNG. The trade-off with this is that you get a much bigger file size, at least several times larger than the equivalent JPEGs.

WebP combines both compression methods in one format and Pixelmator Pro supports them both. At 100% quality, you get lossless compression, like with PNG, and at 99% quality or lower, you get lossy compression, like with JPEG.

WebP compression

100% quality
99% quality or lower
Lossless compression
Lossy compression

Transparency support

Another great thing about WebP is that it supports transparency. Right now, if you’d like to save with transparency, you have to use PNG as JPEG doesn’t support it. So once again, WebP combines the benefits of both primary web image formats into one. What’s more, unique to WebP, it supports both transparency and lossy compression at the same time, something that neither JPEG nor PNG can do.

File size improvements

Finally, both lossless and lossy compressed WebP images are around 25% smaller than comparable PNGs and JPEGs of the same quality.* Pretty great for speeding up loading times!

Although not all major web browsers support WebP just yet (Safari support is missing), most of them do and thanks to WebP support in Pixelmator Pro, you’re free to experiment and see for yourself whether you’d like to switch to WebP for certain images.

Today’s update is now available on the Mac App Store and is free for all existing Pixelmator Pro users.

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We’ll be back soon with some more news about a very exciting major update, which will add a certain highly-requested feature to Pixelmator Pro. Stay tuned!

* Actually, there’s a little disagreement whether, in terms of the quality of compressed images, the format might be slightly better in certain cases and slightly worse in others.