When I save a JPG file with GIMP, I can adjust the quality I save it at, from 0-100 (I use 89). It seems like I've used an app to see what this number was on saved file but if I did I can't for the life of me figure out what it was. Any suggestions as to what to use?


6 Answers 6


Once saved, you cannot tell the quality anymore.

(Setting the quality while saving just tells the software how much loss you find acceptable, but once saved: what's lost is lost. You'd need a human to say if something looks nice.)

Hmmm, I guess I was wrong. I still think the above is correct, but ImageMagick's identify proves me wrong?

identify -verbose myimage.jpg

Image: myimage.jpg
  Format: JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group JFIF format)
  Class: DirectClass
  Geometry: 358x240+0+0
  Resolution: 300x300
  Compression: JPEG
  Quality: 90
  Orientation: Undefined

I don't know how the image in my test was saved, but it does not have any EXIF data. Could the quality still be stored in the image?

  • 1
    Can't you experiment converting to different qualities? I find it hard to believe, unless ImageMagick stores some private data in the jpg (so this might not work with other packages).
    – harrymc
    Oct 29, 2009 at 20:37
  • Interesting. I'll wait to see how this pans out.
    – Nathaniel
    Oct 29, 2009 at 21:10
  • 1
    +1 Yes imagemagick works. I can repeatedly change the jpeg quality and use identify to see the change. This works if I use convert (another imagemagick untility) or another tool like MS Photo Editor. Oct 29, 2009 at 22:20
  • 4
    ImageMagick is doing something different. It gives an estimate, rather than reading what your original software did. Your original, now-crossed-out, answer is really more correct. See @sleske's answer.
    – mattdm
    Mar 24, 2017 at 13:14
  • 1
    ImageMagick returns a quality assessment number, but that doesn't mean it's correct. See faqs.org/faqs/jpeg-faq/part1/section-5.html from the jpeg creators themselves, and photo.stackexchange.com/questions/88167/… Feb 18, 2021 at 23:11

To add to Arjan's answer:

ImageMagick's identify appears to actually look inside the JPEG image to guess the quality setting used to encode it.

ImageMagick's source code (cheer for free software :-)) contains the lines:

  Determine the JPEG compression quality from the quantization tables.
for (i=0; i < NUM_QUANT_TBLS; i++)
  if (jpeg_info.quant_tbl_ptrs[i] != NULL)
    for (j=0; j < DCTSIZE2; j++)

(coders/jpeg.c, line 843ff. in my recent version of ImageMagick's source code).

I don't know enough about JPEG to really understand, but it appears to do something like described in this article:

Determine the JPEG quality factor by using Visual C# .NET (link dead as of Januar 2018; copy on archive.org from 2015)

So yes, identify can actually determine the quality setting of a JPEG just from the compressed file alone (though the result may not always be completely accurate).

  • 3
    Whoa. Very nice of you to check the source code. Cool.
    – Nathaniel
    Jan 4, 2010 at 20:17
  • @Nathaniel, can you please select this answer as being the accepted one, instead of mine? Thanks! (I cannot delete mine as long as it's accepted.)
    – Arjan
    Mar 24, 2017 at 14:22
  • It is searching for the JPEG quantization table that best accounts for how the compressed bitstream looks.
    – jbarlow
    Apr 19, 2018 at 4:05
  • Constants (jpeglib.h): NUM_QUANT_TBLS = 4. DCTSIZE2 = 64. quantval[i] just gets the number at given position.
    – user136036
    Feb 25, 2020 at 23:58

As Arjan metioned identify -verbose myimage.jpg will do it. As imagemagick is a CLI tool, it may be useful for scripting. The approach identify -verbose myimage.jpg | grep ... is preety slow. I recommend using IM like this

identify -format '%Q' myimage.jpg

It is massively faster.


JPEGsnoop is a nice alternative to ImageMagick's identify. The download is quite small and is available in portable format.

After processing a jpg, you will find the "Approx quality factor" under the DQT marker.


Picasa 3 has the properties pane which shows the jpeg quality but it is an abandonware at the moment. Picasa 3 Dick Masterson


With ImageMagick++ library it's easy:

Image magick_image( pathname );
size_t compressionFactor = magick_image.quality(); // 0..100

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