How to convert screenshots from PNG to JPEG on iOS

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PNG to JPG
Nothing says 'JPG conversion' better than an over-copied photo of Killian's hair on a dusty red velvet cushion.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Yesterday, we saw how to set the default screenshot format on your Mac to JPEG instead of PNG, in order to make your screenshots more universally usable. You can’t change the default screenshot file type on iOS, so today we’re going to look at the next best option — converting PNG to JPEG as easily and quickly as possible.

Why convert from PNG to JPEG?

PNGs are better for screenshots because they are essentially a lossless copy of the screen. Every pixel gets recorded as it is, and even transparency gets preserved. JPEGs, on the other hand, compress your image, which can lead to blurry text. Also, .jpg files doesn’t support transparency. Any transparent areas turn white or black.

JPEGs are often smaller than PNGs, though, which can be a concern for some. They are also pretty much universal. Cult of Mac‘s back end, for example, doesn’t let us upload PNGs, and many websites — internet forums, for example — don’t support .png files either.

On the Mac, you can just change a setting and all your new screenshots will be saved as JPEGs instead of PNGs. But on iOS you must do that conversion yourself. And for that, you’ll need an app.

Convert screenshots to JPEG with Workflow

If you already have Workflow installed on your iPhone or iPad, then it’s probably the best way to convert images. Workflow is an Apple-owned app that lets you create simple yet powerful automations. We previously used it to replace Photobucket and hang images on the web, and to make animated GIFs. Today we’ll use it for image conversions. I’ll make the workflow on my iPad because it’s easier for you to see the steps, but it works the same on the iPhone.

Step 1: Open Workflow and create a new workflow by tapping the + sign at top right.

Step 2: Pick how you want to use the workflow. An Action Extension will put the workflow in the iOS Share Sheet, which lets you use it right inside the Photos app. A Today Widget adds it to your widget screen, accessible when you swipe right from the first home screen. The design of your workflow may change depending on which you pick. Today we’ll use the Today Widget. Go ahead and tap it, at the top of the page.

Tap the Today Widget button.
Tap the Today Widget button.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Step 3: Drag in your workflow steps from the list on the left.

These are the steps you’ll need to convert to JPG.
These are the steps you’ll need to convert to JPEG.
Photo: Cult of Mac

If you browse through the list of image-related actions, you’ll see that you can get images into the workflow in several ways. You can have it grab the latest screenshot, for example, or perform a search for images that meet your criteria. Today we’ll just pick the Select Photos action, and the Convert Image action. I also added a Copy action to the end, which copies the result to the clipboard, ready for pasting. If you want a more permanent solution, you can choose the Save to Photo Album action instead.

Step 4: Name your workflow, and give it an icon.

Here’s where you name your workflow, and pick a cool icon.
Here’s where you name your workflow, and pick a cool icon.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Convert PNG to JPEG with JPEG<->PNG app

As you can see, the JPG is way smaller than the PNG.
As you can see, the JPG is way smaller than the PNG.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Once you have Workflow set up, making conversions is super-easy, and you can even tweak it to bulk-convert those images. But if you can’t be bothered, or you hate free apps (Workflow costs $0), or you love free versions of apps as long as they carry really annoying ads, then you may prefer JPEG<->PNG, an app that does one thing: convert between PNG and JPEG files.

Launch the app and tap Load a Photo. The first time you run it, the app will prompt you to allow access to your photo library. Then you’ll see your familiar photo library. The app only works in portrait orientation — no problem on the iPhone, but annoying on the iPad. Pick a photo (probably from your Screenshots album, or what’s the point?), tap Convert & Save, and then pick whether to save as a .png or .jpg file.

And there’s my first problem with this app. You will never want to convert from JPEG to JPEG, or PNG to PNG, so why give the option? It’s just one more tap in an app that already has too many taps. Still, it works, and the results are fine, and the ad-free version is only $1.

So, there you have it — converting PNGs to JPEGs on iOS. The dedicated app looks easier at first, but the Workflow method is quicker once you set it up. And once Workflow is installed on your iPad or iPhone, you can use it for so much more.