WordPress image optimizer

Images slow down your site. Plain and simple. But images are still essential for other reasons, so you can’t just ignore them in the name of performance. To get the best of both worlds, you can use a WordPress image optimizer plugin to optimize images so they take up way less space. You still get to use images for your readers and your site still loads fast. It’s a win-win!

When it comes to WordPress image optimizer plugins, you have several quality options. And to help you find the best of the best, we’re going to put six of them to a test in this post.

The six WordPress image optimizer plugins we’ll compare

Here are the six WordPress image optimizer plugins that we’ll test and compare:

To start, we’ll test how much each plugin can compress a sample image. Then, we’ll jump into the actual interface for each plugin and show you how it works.

Hands-on tests with these six image optimizer plugins

To put these tools to the test, we wanted to see how effectively each plugin could optimize the same image.

This gets a bit tricky, since some of the WordPress image optimizer plugins offer varying levels of optimization. For instance, Imagify has Normal, Aggressive, and Ultra optimization modes.

In addition, some of the optimizers provide automated resizing tools, which can cut down the file size drastically.

Because of those differences, it’s hard to come up with an objective comparison. Here’s how we’re going to do it:

  • We’ll run two tests: one for JPG files and one for PNGs.
  • We’ll stick with the default settings for all plugins and not resize the photos at all.

Though it’s not a perfect comparison, by sticking with the default settings, we’re trying to emulate the experience for a casual user. By that, we mean that the average user would typically install the plugin and not mess with too many default settings.

Testing each WordPress image optimizer with JPG files

Here’s our JPG test subject:

 jpg test

Image Optimization PluginOriginal JPG SizeFile Size After OptimizationOptimization PercentageType of Compression
ShortPixel518 KB169 KB67.36%Lossy
TinyPNG518 KB248.6 KB52%Lossy
Optimole518 KB274 KB47%Lossy and Lossless
Imagify518 KB338.7 KB34.64%Lossy
EWWW518 KB488.9 KB5.7%Lossless
Smush518 KB493 KB4.9%Lossless

Sticking with default settings, ShortPixel is the clear winner, coming in with a ~67% reduction in file size using its lossy compression. TinyPNG gets second place, but it’s a good bit further back. And despite still using lossy compression, Imagify only managed to shrink the image by ~34%.

Testing each WordPress image optimizer with PNG files

Here’s the PNG test image:

WordPress image optimizer - png test

Image Optimization PluginOriginal PNG SizeFile Size After OptimizationOptimization PercentageType of Compression
Optimole301 KB34 KB88.7%Lossy and Lossless
Imagify301 KB67 KB77.7%Lossy
TinyPNG301 KB79.7 KB73.5%Lossy
ShortPixel301 KB90.4 KB69.96%Lossy
Smush301 KB247 KB17.9%Lossless
EWWW301 KB257.4 KB14.6%Lossless

This time, the competition is more fierce. Now, the Optimole Image Optimization plugin takes the top spot with 88.7% optimization. Imagify, TinyPNG and ShortPixel are not far behind.

As you may notice, those are the same plugins we saw perform well in the JPG test. Does that mean they’re definitely better? No. But it shows that they’re preset to perform the best, which in my mind is a huge factor.

If the average user can’t accomplish a 70% compression rating without upgrading to premium or switching around settings, I’d put a plugin like that at the bottom of my list.

So, after two real-world optimization tests, the winners are Imagify, ShortPixel, Optimole, and TinyPNG. 

Note: You may see that the image degradation is more prevalent with extreme optimization settings. For instance, I actually noticed a clear difference in how the PNG looked through Optimole – since by default that plugin gets more aggressive with its file shrinking.

Interface, features, and pricing

Optimization is the most important element, but you still want to ensure that you’re not paying too much – or that the interface isn’t too difficult to understand.

1. Imagify

How’s the interface?

Imagify has the best-looking Settings module on this list. It’s broken down into General Settings, Optimization, and Display Options, with only one page to manage settings. I like how the optimization modes are large buttons. Also, the Visual Comparison between the optimization modes gives you an idea of which one to use.

How are the features?

In the optimization testing, Imagify performed well. However, that was on the default Aggressive optimization setting. You can also go with Normal (lossless) and Ultra (more lossy). So, you could compress your images more, or less, if you’re worried about quality.

Imagify settings

Other than that, most features can be set up for automation. For instance, you can resize all images to a specific width. There’s even a tool for optimizing your WordPress theme.

How’s the pricing?

Pricing is based on the actual file size of your image uploads. Less than 1GB per month is okay for the free plan, but after that, the plans start at $4.99 per month.

2. Smush Image Compression and Optimization

How’s the interface?

Smush has a beautiful interface with proactive elements that ask if you’d like to optimize both old photos and new ones. The main advantage of Smush is the amount of information provided about your images and how much space you’ve saved.

Smush settings

How are the features?

Resizing and optimization are both included with new and old pictures. The bulk optimize tool is great for when you have several pictures.

In the free version, you can only bulk optimize 50 old images at a time, so you might need to click the button a few times if you have lots of images.

How’s the pricing?

One of the benefits of Smush is that it lets you optimize unlimited images for free. There are just two caveats:

  • You can only use lossless compression in the free version
  • Individual images cannot exceed 1MB

To remove that limit and get lossy compression, you can use WP Smush Pro. This premium plugin is included with the WPMUDEV development package for $49 per month. That’s a steep price if you only need this plugin, but many developers love the subscription since you get everything else you need for building websites.

3. Image optimization service by Optimole

How’s the interface?

Optimole’s image optimization plugin is clean and modern, with most of the tools running in the background without you knowing. It requires a quick account creation and API key insertion. After that, you can view all optimized images in the dashboard and modify certain settings like image replacement, resizing of large images, compression quality, and lazy loading. Optimole also has its own dashboard outside of WordPress. Here you can find more detailed information like the optimization sizes and monthly reports.

How are the features?

tinypng settings

All image optimizations are done automatically with Optimole. It’s also powered by a CDN so you don’t have to worry about your images loading slowly. Tracking and monitoring is one of the best features, since you receive very specific details on what’s happening with your images and how much space is being saved. Along with lazy loading and image resizing, it’s a nice package without the need to pay any money.

How’s the pricing?

The Free plan allows for 1GB of images per month, a CDN, and 10GB of viewing bandwidth per month. Three other plans are sold, starting at $29 per month for 15GB each month and 100GB of viewing bandwidth. The CDN is also more powerful in the paid plans.

4. EWWW Image Optimizer

How’s the interface?

EWWW is one of my least favorite interfaces, since it looks outdated and shows six tabs that you have to sift through. That said, the default features are typically fine for most people, so you don’t have to mess with much.

How are the features?

EWWW settings

EWWW offers JPG, PNG, GIF, and PDF optimization. There are also options for both lossy and lossless compression. The main benefit is that EWWW has no limits on file sizes or the number of images uploaded.

Additionally, the free version of EWWW performs optimizations on your own web server, whereas all the other tools use external servers. This is nice for privacy-focused sites. But it can put a strain on your server if you optimize a lot of images at once.

How’s the pricing?

The main EWWW plugin is free. You can also pay for API access if you do want to offload the work to someone else’s server – but you don’t need to.

5. ShortPixel Image Optimizer

How’s the interface?

ShortPixel’s dashboard is similar to Imagify’s but with extra tabs for advanced features. The average user can go with the default settings, and the main page is mainly where you’ll stick around.

How are the features?

ShortPixel settings

ShortPixel lets you choose from Lossy, Glossy, and Lossless modes. You can also resize large images upon upload and see how much space you’ve saved.

ShortPixel also has some other features that more advanced users will like, including:

  • PDF optimization
  • WebP image support
  • Cloudflare integration if you’re using a CDN

How’s the pricing?

ShortPixel provides 100 free image credits every month. If you need more, the plans start at $4.99 for 5,000 image credits. There are no file size restrictions for individual images.

6. Compress JPEG & PNG images by TinyPNG

How’s the interface?

The TinyPNG plugin sticks to the basics, with a simple, clean Settings page. It takes maybe 20 seconds to understand what’s going on and activate your automated optimization process.

How are the features?

tinypng settings

TinyPNG automatically compresses and resizes images upon upload. It also has options for optimizing previously uploaded images. Along with no file size limits and WooCommerce support, this is a pretty appealing plugin.

How’s the pricing?

The number of free uploads is restricted to 500 per month. After that, the starting price is $0.009 per image for the next 9,500 images.

Which WordPress image optimizer should you go with?

  • Imagify – For excellent compression, features, and interface.
  • Smush – For unlimited free lossless compression (with a 1MB max for each image).
  • Optimole – For a fairly powerful free plan and included CDN and lazy loading.
  • EWWW – For a free WordPress image optimizer and no file size limits. Just remember it works on your own server.
  • ShortPixel – For some of the best optimization and a sleekest interface.
  • TinyPNG – For excellent optimization and the simplest of all interfaces.
If you have any further questions about the best WordPress image optimizer tools, let us know in the comments.
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