How to Convert Pictures to High Resolution JPEG

The resolution of an image refers to the number of pixels within the image.
Image Credit: golubovy/iStock/GettyImages

The resolution of an image refers to the number of pixels within the image. More pixels means a higher level of detail and higher image quality. If you have a low-resolution image, you may be able to modify the resolution to increase the quality of the picture using Microsoft Paint or another graphics editor.

What is a High-Resolution Photo?

Digital cameras allow you to specify the amount of detail in a picture by setting its resolution, which is typically expressed in terms of pixels. For example, an image may be defined as 1200 pixels wide by 1600 pixels high, or 1200 x 1600. A pixel, for picture element, is a tiny dot that represents one portion of the overall image. Although a higher pixel count often leads to a higher resolution picture, the final resolution depends on the size the image will be when it's printed or displayed.

Designers and photographers often need to take the size of an image into account, so they express image resolution in terms of pixels per inch, or PPI. Some common PPI resolutions are 72, 200 and 300. When displayed onscreen, higher PPIs produced higher-quality images due to great pixel density, while images with lower PPIs result in visible pixels that give the image a blurry or jagged appearance.

Using Paint to Increase Image Resolution

Digital cameras usually save pictures as JPEG files, a format that has been optimized for photos. If you're running a Windows computer or laptop, you can use the free Paint application to change the resolution by increasing or decreasing the number of pixels in your image. Start Paint and load the image file. In Windows 10, press the right mouse button over the image and pick Resize from the popup menu. In the Resize image page, pick Define custom dimensions to display the Resize image pane.

From the Resize image pane, you can specify a new width and height for your image in pixels. You will probably want to turn on the Maintain aspect ratio toggle to make sure your image doesn't become skewed when you change the number of pixels it contains. Once you've entered a new width and height, you can save a copy of your resized image.

Increase Resolution of an Image Online

If you don't have access to a graphics editor application like Paint, there are websites that will perform the conversion on your image file. Search with Google for image enhancer and you'll see many results. One of the most popular cloud-based photo editing tools is Pixlr, available at pixlr.com. You can open an image file or load an image from a web address for editing, then use the Resize command to change the image resolution.

Limitations of Image Enhancement

Whether you use a graphics editor like Paint or a tool like Pixlr to convert a low-resolution image to high resolution online, there are limits to how much detail you can gain by increase an image's resolution. It's easier for graphics editing software to decrease the resolution by removing pixels than increase it by adding them.

At some point, the image may begin to lose sharpness. For example, if you have an image that's meant to be printed as a small, wallet-size photo and you increase the resolution to print it as an 8 x 10 photo, the quality of the image may suffer.

In general, you should shoot or scan photos at the highest resolution possible, but higher resolution images are saved in large files. To save storage space, you can always compress a large file later or crop unwanted portions of the image without losing quality. If you start with a lower resolution, you'll have smaller image files but the results may not be good when you try to increase the resolution.

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