Sending precious photos on WhatsApp? Here’s some essential advice.

I’ve been guilty of this myself. Mainly because it’s easy. Let’s imagine you’ve been out with a group of people (imagining is all we can do right now due to social distancing). You could’ve nipped to the pub, had a day out, a camping trip or a party and – as you all leave – you say, “Hey! Share the pictures on WhatsApp”.

Trouble is, that’s really not a good plan. As an example, here’s a photo I took during my COVID-19 exercise outing…

The original photo is right here. Go ahead, open it up and take a look at it. If you want to see it fully, right click the link and say, “Open link in new tab”.

On my phone it’s got a resolution of 4224 x 3136 and is some 5.42MB in size…

The image above is great if you want to take it to the shops and turn it into a printed photograph. You can stick it on the wall and the quality will show through. It’ll look good on a big screen too. However, if you send it through WhatsApp you’re going to lose a huge amount of quality.

Here’s that very same image after it’s been forwarded through WhatsApp…

Again, we have to condense images on the site a bit when they’re displayed on your phone, so here’s the original WhatsApp picture that got sent. Right-click on the link again and open in a new tab or you can perhaps click the “Expand the image” button on the upper right of the opened shot if you see that. It’s now a much smaller file – just 354KB instead of the 5.42MB original – and has a 1599 x 1187 resolution. On your phone, both photos seem the same. Indeed, it’s tricky to perhaps decipher the difference with the images I’m showing here, but the “sent through WhatsApp” image will be a more blurry and will lack quality if you want to look at it on your TV or turn it into a photo to put on the wall.

Zoom in a little on the original (seen on the left below) and you can see the house in the far distance. It’s still fairly clear (this is a 12 megapixel 4:3 photo), but on the WhatsApp image (right), things go wrong when you try to zoom into the same level..

Again, because we do some rather clever stuff on the site to make it all super-speedy on your phone, it’s worth looking at the original version of the above comparison.

Here’s some more examples. First, a 2666 x 2574 pixel shot (roughly 1.05MB) of our cat. The original image is here so you can zoom in on it.

And now, the “after it’s been through WhatsApp” version. Check the direct-off-the-WhatsApp-message version here. It’s now 165 KB and 1333 x 1287 pixels.

This is a bit trickier to compare because it’s more close-up but the whiskers become a bit “digitized” on the lower-quality version. You can see that in the example below, or get the full-sized comparison here.

Lastly, a photo of my favourite thing. This is a 4000 x 3000 pixel image and is 6.53MB. Don’t forget to click here for the original shot off my phone.

After the WhatsApp compression, we’re left with a 1600 x 1200 pixel image at 428KB. Here’s the original WhatsApp attachment..

Put the two alongside each other and, again, you get an element of pixelization. It’s best to check the original version of this comparison.

But, thereĀ is a way to send images over WhatsApp without compression. It’ll maintain all the picture attributes and the quality if you do this too.

Just click attach “Document” instead of “Gallery”. This way, you’ll force WhatsApp to treat it as a PDF / Word or other document and it won’t compress it. The image will come out the other end with the same file size, the same attributes and theĀ same quality..

Here’s a video showing how to do that..

As you can see below, it works really well..