The Best Photo Size for Facebook

by Andrew Aarons

Just watch "The Social Network," and you'll understand that one of Facebook's core components is its photo tool. The gigantic social networking site was founded around the idea that you could see the faces of people online. As Facebook as evolved, its photo tool has grown a little more complex, but not much. Facebook supports almost all photo types and has only a minimum limit on photo size, so you can upload just about every photo you have.

Minimum Size

The only limit Facebook places on photos is a minimum size requirement for your profile picture. Because of the way the Facebook software works, your profile picture is used in a few different ways -- as your icon in the chat, as the main picture on your personal page, and as an image in your "Profile pictures" album. All profile pictures need to be at least 180 pixels wide. If you are uploading a portrait-oriented photo (meaning it's taller than it is wide), the shortest edge needs to be 180 pixels.

Checking Pixel Sizes

You don't need a special graphics-editing program to know the size of your pictures in terms of pixels. Every version of Windows since XP has had built-in photo editing, and the shell integration of this editing software gives you photo information from Windows Explorer or "My Computer" ("Computer" in Vista and Windows 7). Press the "Windows" key on your keyboard and "E" to open an Explorer window, then browse to the folder that contains your pictures. Hover the pointer over any picture for a few seconds, and Windows will display the photo information, including pixels.

High-resolution Photos

Facebook doesn't have a maximum resolution limit, which means you can put full-resolution photos online. These photos won't display at full size, but Facebook will store a high-resolution copy of your image for people to download. When using the uploader tool, simply click "High Res" to save a full-size copy of the picture.

Upload Times

Although Facebook doesn't have an upper limit on photo size, you may want to look at the file size of your photos before uploading them. Depending on your camera's megapixels and maximum resolution setting, your photo files might be quite large in terms of file size. A high-res photo will take longer to upload than a lower resolution file, and both will display the same on Facebook. The high-res photo will look sharper if someone chooses to download it, but in terms of basic display on the site and upload time, low-resolution photos will be far easier to work with.

About the Author

Living in Canada, Andrew Aarons has been writing professionally since 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ottawa, where he served as a writer and editor for the university newspaper. Aarons is also a certified computer-support technician.