How to Convert Pictures to 8-Bit

Written by jason artman
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Common computer image formats such as the JPG format have the ability to display millions of colours in a single image file. However, this may sometimes be more than you need; for example, suppose that you are creating a screenshot from a computer application or a small button for a website. Many of these images may have just a few colours. Convert an image to 8-bit colour using Microsoft Paint to dither the image down to 256 colours and reduce its file size.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Open the Start menu. Type "Paint" in the "Search programs and files" field at the bottom of the menu, and wait for "Paint" to appear on the result list.

  2. 2

    Click the "Paint" icon to launch Microsoft Paint.

  3. 3

    Click the blue button in the upper-left corner of the Paint window, and then click "Open." Locate the picture that you want to convert to 8-bit colour, and double-click it.

  4. 4

    Click the "Save as type" menu at the bottom of the "Save As" menu, and select "GIF" or "256 Color Bitmap." The file size of a bitmap image is slightly larger than the size of a GIF image. However, the two formats use slightly different methods of dithering down to 8-bit colour, so you may want to try both formats.

  5. 5

    Click the "Save" button.

  6. 6

    Click "Yes" when Microsoft Paint notifies you that the colour quality of the image may be reduced.

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