What Dimensions and Quality Should Photographers Use When Posting To Social Media?
Nearly a constant debate online, I constantly get questions on the pixel dimensions, quality setting, and DPI that photographers should use when exporting out of Lightroom and Photoshop for posting the image on social media. The answer may change over time as the social networks make constant changes to how they deal with photos, but after more than 80 hours of real-world research here is the answer.
Photographers who want to have their images shown at the highest possible quality on all social media networks should export their images to JPEG format with the longest edge at 4096 pixels and quality set to 77%. Don’t worry about DPI.
Photoshop export settings ideal for MOST images to get the highest quality when posting to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
Lightroom Classic export settings ideal for MOST images to get the highest quality when posting to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
Simple as that. I have tested this extensively and this ensures the very best representation of your image on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. All of these services will further compress your image (regardless of the dimensions and quality – more on that below). Facebook and Instagram will also downsize the image to a smaller resolution.
If you want to customize your export a little more, here are the results I got posting real images to all three services for what it was they did to the image no matter how many more pixels the original image contained. No matter how much larger the longest edge was, this is the maximum number of pixels that will be on the long edge from these services.
ServiceOriginalLongest EdgeResizedLongest EdgeFacebook5120 pixels1920 pixelsInstagram5120 pixels1080 pixelsTwitter5120 pixels4096 pixelsIf you are only sharing the image on Instagram, you may as well export at 1080 pixels on the long edge because Instagram will size it down to that size on upload if it isn’t.
Why 4096 Pixels Longest Edge?
My advice for a few years now has been using 2048 pixels on the long edge for sharing to social media. Not bad advice here in 2021, but if you are posting images to Twitter that isn’t going to result in the highest possible quality.
It may be pretty obvious after seeing the table above. After doing real-world testing and posting hundreds of images through the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, I have found that the highest pixel dimension allowed comes from Twitter. Twitter will not retain the longest edge size if the image you post is 4096 pixels on the longest edge.
Therefore, to get the most quality in your post, if you are posting that image to all three services you should export with the longest edge set to 4096 pixels. Facebook and Instagram will resize the image to 1920 and 1080 pixels on the long edge respectively, but they will take in that 4096 long edge image just fine and you’ll get a good result.
However, if your destinations are limited to Facebook and Instagram, save yourself some disk space and bandwidth by using a longest edge pixel dimension of 1920 (or maybe 2048 for a little extra detail) instead of 4096.
Why Quality of 77%?
The quality number is almost irrelevant as far as the services go because all of them are going to put your image through their compression engine no matter what you do (more on that below). This is purely about saving you disk space and bandwidth. Still, since your image is bound for a makeover in the compression engines of these services,