When I see a JPG file, I know for sure this file is lossy. When I see a PNG file, I know for sure it is lossless.

But WebP is a different thing, it supports both lossless and lossy "modes", so how I can detect whether a downloaded .webp file is lossy or lossless?

  • 2
    I thought this might be easy to answer by examining the file header in an image. Turns out it's not so easy since WebP images can contain not only lossless or lossy images, but also a mixture of both. Maybe this question would be better suited to Computer Graphics Stack Exchange or perhaps Stack Overflow, as it seems to be quite technical, rather than just a graphic design question.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented May 12, 2022 at 9:00
  • A mixture of both? So in simple words there could be a webp image with two apples, one apple is lossless and another one is lossy, and so after you save this image 10 million times, the first apple will have a poor quality, but another apple will be perfect?
    – john c. j.
    Commented May 12, 2022 at 9:13
  • I'm not really sure of all the pros and cons of the format, sorry. But yeah I see it frequently referred to as a container format - which means one file can contain different kinds of images with different encoding.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented May 12, 2022 at 9:51
  • I'm genuinely curious - if you're downloading an image from a page on the web, why does it matter?
    – JeffK
    Commented May 12, 2022 at 14:17
  • You do not actually know if a png is lossless. It might have been lossily crunched before save for better compressibility. So basically you only know a format that is always lossy like jpeg is lossy. Every format touted as lossless can be both lossy and lossless.
    – joojaa
    Commented May 12, 2022 at 14:21

1 Answer 1


You can use the command webpinfo from google's libwebp package.

Example of a lossy webp:

webpinfo yellow_rose_lossy.webp | grep Format


Format: Lossy (1)

Example of a lossless webp:

webpinfo yellow_rose_lossless.webp | grep Format


  Format: Lossless (2)

You can download the example files from this page

  • Thanks! That CLI app (installed via brew on macOS 11 Big Sur) worked like a charm for me. Asked the creator of a GUI image editing/conversion software GraphicConverter to integrate that info there too.
    – porg
    Commented Nov 30, 2022 at 18:49

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