WordPress Creates Fuzzy Thumbnails [Solution]

Did you know that WordPress creates thumbnails from images you upload?

You may have already known this — not everyone does, but most WordPress users are aware of this (or at least should be).

Did you also know that all resized images must be sharpened?

This is common knowledge for photography and website design professionals, but probably not for the majority of WordPress users.

And did you also know that WordPress does not sharpen resized images?

I bet that you didn’t know that one… not many people do. ;-)

WordPress creates several different thumbnail / resized images by default (see WordPress Settings > Media page for details) and potentially several more, depending on your theme and plugin settings. It’s not uncommon, for example, for WordPress to create a half-dozen (or more) images from the original image you upload. And in all cases, WordPress does not sharpen or make any adjustments to the resized image it creates!

But don’t “image optimization” plugins do this?

No, they don’t — image optimization plugins are designed to create smaller / faster loading images, not better looking ones. And if you share a post / page to social media, you want images to stand-out and pop! — fuzzy images just won’t do, no matter how fast they load. ;-)

So what’s the solution then?

As the author of several Social and Search Optimization plugins, I found the lack of sharpening options for resized images completely unacceptable. That’s why I wrote the WPSSO Tune WP Image Editors (aka WPSSO TIE) plugin — a Free add-on for the WPSSO Core plugin.

By default the WPSSO TIE add-on applies a safe, moderate amount of sharpening to every JPEG image created by WordPress. A Pro version is also available for existing WPSSO Core Pro users, which allows for the customization and fine-tuning of some ImageMagick library settings.

Can you spot the difference? Which image would you click on?

These examples show 150x150px thumbnail images (300x300px on high-resolution / retina displays) created by WordPress, with and without the WPSSO TIE add-on. The thumbnails are stretched to fit their container here, so you can clearly see the differences. The same lack of sharpening can be found in all resized images from WordPress, but is most noticeable in the smaller sizes.

Which image are you more likely to share, re-share, or click on? ;-)

Example Thumbnail (Storefront) - WordPress Default
Example Thumbnail (Storefront) - WPSSO TIE Active with Default Settings (Free version)
Example Thumbnail (Storefront) - WPSSO TIE Active with Custom / Maximum Recommended Settings (Pro version)

WordPress Default
WPSSO TIE Active with Default Settings (Free version)
WPSSO TIE Active with Custom / Maximum Recommended Settings (Pro version)

If you’re interested in trying the WPSSO TIE add-on, you can find WPSSO Core and all its Free add-ons on WordPress.org — don’t forget that after activating the WPSSO TIE add-on, you’ll need to regenerate your existing thumbnail / resized images to apply the new image adjustments. ;-)