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I received an image on WhatsApp, claiming to be a 'Magic image'. Here it is: (NOTE: Its a JPG) (Find the full size here: https://bit.ly/2WcEZmH)

enter image description here

Below images in clockwise:

  1. The image as received
  2. When you click to enlarge the image
  3. Image information in the gallery (Samsung S10e, Android 9)
  4. When forwarded

enter image description here . enter image description here enter image description here . enter image description here

I have a few questions regarding them.

1. How to create them?

I know its a play on transparency

I know its just creatively hiding colors which either show up with white background (when seen as a msg in the chat window), or black background (when clicked to open)

So I create a file with transparency, one which shows different things on white and black backgrounds

But it doesn't work, whatsapp isn't necessarily showing the transparency.

I tried uploading from phone as well as desktop, still no luck.

2. The one I received happened to be a JPG file, how is that possible?

I dont think its entirely using just the transparency hack. There is probably something else I haven't thought of.

Here is what I tried so far

In the below image, the sky is semi transparent. The text BOO! is opaque, and the color of the text is set same as the color of the sky with white background.

This is the image I created: (https://bit.ly/2KrZp92)

enter image description here

See below for how this would look with white and black backgrounds.

If shown with white background If shown with black background

This is what whatsapp does, when sent on phone

enter image description here

Doesn't change color or anything

Any leads welcome!

  • what have you tried? It seems to be just transparency.
    – Luciano
    Jun 3, 2019 at 9:46
  • @Luciano he saying he got jpg :O that's strange though!
    – Mr.Online
    Jun 3, 2019 at 11:52
  • Can you please share the actual image file? If it took 2 years to figure it out, I am not going to spend 2 years trying to reverse engineer it. Please don't assume things like "We all must have received one".
    – Billy Kerr
    Jun 3, 2019 at 15:56
  • Have you tried to google it? See this question on Quora (ignore the first answer). It seems to be just transparency. It's strange that your image information says that it's a jpg - they can't have transparency, so it must be a png. Btw: How did this take 85 people with 100 cameras 2 years to make? Doesn't make sense.
    – Wolff
    Jun 3, 2019 at 15:57
  • @Wolff, Lol the text is some silly thing that makes people forward it out of awe! Its a cartoon, didn't need a single camera I'm sure. I added the text msg too to just show how these things are usually sent.
    – surajck
    Jun 4, 2019 at 14:55

2 Answers 2


Quorra post (from 2017) makes clear it’s plain-Jane transparency.

The coloured backgrounds are inherent in the app messaging display, the colours chosen for the nearly-transparent portion of the image are done to show in one context and be obscured / obfuscated in the two others.

The image is indeed a transparent .png, but they force a false .jpg extension onto it.

Hope that helps somehow.

  • Hi @Gerard, please see the updated question. I have added the actual image. Your explanation is exactly what I was confident about too. I took care in creating an image that fit that reasoning.
    – surajck
    Jun 4, 2019 at 15:32
  • If a PNG is renamed to JPG, would the transparency still show up when viewed on most viewers?
    – surajck
    Jun 4, 2019 at 15:47
  • @sorjack most likely yes
    – joojaa
    Jul 22, 2019 at 9:02
  • 2
    Whatsapp probably understands the type of the file by reading it in binary, not from the extension. If you open the original image in a hex editor, you'll see that it's actually a png. Photoshop won't open the file as is but will open it if you rename it to png. Jul 23, 2019 at 6:54

This might not look like answer but anyway...

If you google for making such MAGIC images you'll find tons of methods like 3rd party apps but all of them are works as above discussion where there are two background of app where in preview they use white and upon zoomed in they uses black which can help us create illusion of magic.

but now I've figured out that there is no ISSUE in your file. actually I think whatsapp really fixed this so called MAGIC IMAGE's Source by using static background for all kind of images (transparent or opaque).

The reason I posted this as answer because I want you to stop wasting time by finding error in your Image. I've tested it with around 5 different images and 2 @TakiBump's images (taki is the one who started this trend by posting such MAGICAL image) but none of them is working in mine and my friends phone because in all our's phone if our images are transparent photoshop end up using black as it's background :D

Hope this helps! but I already spent 2 hours in this and my final conclusion is The Magical image can work if there are different bg like old whatsapp but can failed on static background. Cheers!!

Edit : one of my testing image goes here! No Offence XD

enter image description here

when I sent this via whatsapp it MERGED my transparent area with black color and generated ".jpg" which have no TRANSPARENCY!

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