WebP: the versatile image format

Introduction to the WebP format

Surely it has happened to you that, browsing the internet, you have seen an image that has caught your attention and you decide to save it on your device, but something unexpected happens, when reviewing the saved file, you realize that it is an image in Webp format , which your device is not able to read. In circumstances like these, a Webp image converter (like the one we offer here at DrWebTools) to the format of your choice that is readable on your device is helpful.

Now, let's understand the reason for this image format, and its advantages in reference to other formats.

WebP is an image format characterized by allowing lossy and lossless compression, as well as allowing animation. This format was created by Google in 2010, and was born with the intention of being an alternative to the main image formats, such as: JPEG, PNG, and GIF.

This format provides superior lossless and lossy compression for images on the web, all with the intention that webmasters and web developers can create smaller, sharper images that make the web load faster.

Compared to other formats

WebP lossless compression images are 26% smaller compared to PNG images. Lossy WebP images are 25-34% smaller than JPEG images.

The lossless compression WebP format accepts transparency (also known as alpha channel) adding as little as 22% extra bytes. When compressing an image with lossy RGB colors, lossy WebP also supports transparency and typically provides 3x smaller file sizes than PNG.

How does WebP work?

Lossy compression

Lossy WebP compression uses predictive coding to encode an image, the same method that the VP8 video codec uses to compress keyframes in videos. Predictive encoding uses the values ​​of neighboring pixel blocks to predict the values ​​of a block, and then encodes only the difference.

Lossless compression

Lossless WebP compression uses previously viewed image fragments to reconstruct exactly new pixels. You can also use a local palette if no interesting matches are found.

How are WebP compression techniques?

A WebP file is made up of VP8 or VP8L image data and a RIFF-based container. The stand-alone libwebp library serves as the reference implementation for the WebP specification and is available from Google's git repository.


In order to offer an alternative option to the GIF format, Google has proposed the use of WebP for animated images. Among the main advantages, Google has announced a 64% reduction in file size for images converted from animated GIFs to lossy WebP, however with a very noticeable visual impact. When converting with lossless WebP, a 19% reduction is achieved as reported by Google.


Web browsers

WebP was originally intended to be compatible with all major web browsers, including Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge, the Opera browser, and many other software tools and libraries.

Image editors

The creators of WebP have made it compatible with a variety of image editing software.

Flexibility when converting

The lightweight libwebp WebP encoding and decoding library and the cwebp and dwebp command-line tools allow converting images to and from WebP format, and also make tools for viewing, mixing, and animating WebP images possible. The full source code is available on the download page.


In conclusion, WebP is a relatively new image format, which has been proposed by Google. The idea of ​​the WebP format is to be an alternative to the main image formats that are: JPEG, PNG and GIF. In a single format Google has managed to include the properties of all other formats. WebP like JPEG supports lossy compression; WebP like PNG supports lossless compression, and like GIF, it allows image animation. Mainly the intention of this format is to be established as a standard on the web, given its wide flexibility and lightness, which are vital for the effective functioning of a website.

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