EWWW Image Optimizer – An Alternative to WP Smush.it

EWWW Image Optimizer

I’ve been using WP Smush.it on my sites for a year or two now, and it’s an excellent way of losslessly compressing all of your images when you upload, so that you can reduce your page size (and thus, your load speed etc.). However, in the past few months, I’ve noticed that it hasn’t been playing nicely with upgrades of WordPress, so I set about finding a replacement.

What I found was a plugin called EWWW Image Optimizer, which not only worked reliably, but had other advantages over WP Smush.it that I hadn’t even considered before.

Image optimisers

First and foremost, I should mention what EWWW Image Optimizer and WP Smush.it are, for the uninitiated. These plugins are image optimisers, that take the images you upload to WordPress and compress them, so that the image files are smaller, but they do it without impacting the quality of the image. So it looks exactly the same, but it’s smaller. This has benefits for reducing your page size, which in turns means your pages will load faster; all good things for you and your visitors.

The WP Smush.it service takes each image and sends it off-site to be compressed by Yahoo’s own systems and then returns the compressed image. That’s fine, and worked for me for a number of years, but only because I didn’t know there was an alternative.

What EWWW Image Optimizer does is use utilities on your own server to compress the images and keep everything local. That has a number of advantages, including privacy, ownership and speed in processing your images.

Since it uses utilities installed on your own server, you either have to be able to make changes to your own server, or be on shared hosting that has the utilities already installed. This is one of the reasons that having a Virtual Private Server (VPS) is so useful. The three utilities that the plugin uses are:

  • optipng
  • jpegtran
  • gifsicle

You can always ask your host if they have these utilities installed before you get going, to see whether you can use this plugin.

Once installed, the plugin pretty much does the work for you; just set the paths for the three utilities and then watch the plugin compress each image as they get uploaded.

EWWW Image OptimizerThere’s also a bulk processing tool, if you already have a library full of images that need to be processed. Furthermore, you can also target specific files by using the links in the media library to compress individual images.

How do you like it? Were you able to use it, or were you limited by not being able to install the utlities? Did you find big improvements over WP Smush.it if you used that service before?

23 thoughts on “EWWW Image Optimizer – An Alternative to WP Smush.it”

  1. Vignat Vora says:

    Thanks for the awesome alternative of Smush.it . I was waiting for this alternative , as smush.it is not working properly for my blogs.

    1. Yes, that’s what caused me to look for it in the first place, but it had so many other advantages, that it just seemed silly not to keep it permanently.

  2. Charlie says:

    Well, it is a really good alternative. But I would still try it till switchin’ to it permanently. It is new and as you know everything new can be a bit awkward in some moments.

  3. D. Maak says:

    Hey Dave,

    I didn’t even know there was a good alternative to Smushit. First time I’m hearing about Ewww Image Optimizer. I’ve used Smushit a lot. I don’t usually use the plugins though. I usually go straight to the smushit website and upload them there. Lately though it seems like the website loads really slow and takes forever. Been happening for months so it might be time to try something else. It’s an absolute must because it’s pretty amazing just how much file size you can save on certain images without losing any quality.

  4. Saon islam says:

    I am looking for this kind of plugin which is reduced my page load time. Is Ewww is easy to use?

    1. You have to be able to install the three utilities on your server, which means that it’s not a likely option if you’re on shared hosting. You really need a VPS.

  5. Josh says:

    Is there a need to use an image optimizer like Ewww or Smush.it if you are already using a CDN like MaxCDN?

    Can both of them work together out of the box? And will Ewww + MaxCDN result in faster load times then Ewww or MaxCDN alone?

    1. Josh,

      Yes, they perform independent functions and should be used in conjunction for the best results. Image optimisers make the image themselves smaller, while a CDN delivers that content quickly to your end users. Using an image optimiser will also reduce the amount of bandwidth on your CDN, lowering your CDN expenses.

  6. Ana Hoffman says:

    Thanks for the tips, Dave.

    I’ve been using WP.Smush for a while, but not sure they’ve updated it for the recent WP version – it definitely misses a few images.

    Also, mentioned you in this post: http://www.trafficgenerationcafe.com/write-great-content-for-traffic/ – great after-post box!

    1. Hi Ana,

      Yes, that’s what prompted my initial search for a better tool, and now I like EWWW much better anyway, so no real loss!

      Appreciate the mention as well. Thanks

  7. nikhil says:

    This one is a good alternative to the Smush.it. I get errors while using Smush.it sometimes. Everytime I have to deactivate and activate it again. It works fine after some time but doing the same thing over and over again is quite annoying. Nice Find.

  8. Debbie says:

    I only switched to a self-hosted site a few months ago and just learned about image optimizing. There are over 400 images on my blog and the Smushit bulk feature was incredibly slow, plus it would quit working every few minutes and I had to start over. Deactivated and deleted! Just downloaded the EWWW plug in a few minutes ago and it’s already about half way through! Excellent tool.

  9. Carl Thomas says:

    Using it on my site now, which is shared hosting, and seems to be doing its thing.

  10. Rick says:

    Hi Dave,

    I am also looking for an alternative to WP Smush.it, because I want a tool that outputs progressive JPEG’s. As far as I know, WP Smush.it does not. I think EWWW Image Optimizer does actually. Do you know?

  11. Catie says:

    Just an addition here for those who may host on wpengine.com – this awesome plugin is not allowed – however the cloud version of same is allowed http://wordpress.org/plugins/ewww-image-optimizer-cloud/ I’ve read about other issues when researching the plugin so I imagine using the cloud version would be the fix here too.

  12. Sergey says:

    I’m using CDN for static resources and both Smushit and EWWW plugins have same problem (feature) – initial image is uploaded to CDN, and then it is replaced by optimized version.
    This way in WordPress admin we see optimized images, but on the actual website – initial unoptimized versions from CDN.

    1) Upload new image with activated plugin (one ot another)
    2.1) When 100% loaded image should be processed by optimization plugin
    2.2) At the same time initial image is being uploaded to CDN (I assume so, WP Total Cache is CDN is enabled)
    3) Local initial image is replaced by optimized version, i.e. WordPress has optimized image but webside uses unoptimized image.

    Is there any way to handle such a case?

    1. Sergey,

      This doesn’t sound right. Images aren’t uploaded to the CDN when they are uploaded. Step 1 & 2.1 in your comment are correct. The original unoptimised version is discarded and completely replaced by the optimised version, so there is no way that WordPress can display any version but the optimised version. The image isn’t uploaded to the CDN until it is first requested from your website, that is, someone visits your site, and the image URL points to your CDN, but the image doesn’t exist there yet, so the CDN retrieves the image from your web server and then serves it up to your users.

      Is it possible that you’re seeing a cached version of the unoptimised image? Clear your browser cache (completely) and your site (WP) cache and then refresh the page, or use a tool like Pingdom to see how large (file size) each image on a given page load is to see whether it’s the optimised version or not.

  13. Sergey says:

    Hi Dave, thanks for an update!

    Here is what I tried out:

    1) First I downloaded arbitrary image and checked it with http://techslides.com/demos/progressive-test.html, result was “Not Progressive”
    2) Next I uploaded new media file to WP and got “Reduced by 4.4% (3.2 kB). Image Size: 69.52 kB”
    3) Then I added this media file to an existing post. In post edit mode I right-clicked on the image and pressed “Save image as..”, saved this image on my local machine. Result was indeed 69.52 kB and “Progressive” in progressive-test.
    4) I pressed “Update” on the post and opened it in the browser, the image now came from CDN but it was not optimized! If try and save it, the image would still have bigger size and “Not Progressive” mode http://d3t6orwhq1g62r.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/bmw_museum_l080909_4.jpg?d75431

    Additionally I emptied all browser and WP caches, enabled “Export changed files automatically” and set “Auto upload interval” to 300s under Performance->CDN Settings (WP Total Cache), waited for 5 mins, tried to change query string “?d75431” to get not cahed version, but result was still the same.

    1. Hmmm, then it sounds like you’re doing everything right, but the CDN is not refreshing your image when it changes on your site. You might want to get in touch with W3 Edge and see what might be stopping W3 Total Cache from triggering a replacement of the image on the CDN with the new, optimised version when you update it, since you have the setting for automatically exporting those files checked.

  14. David says:

    Hello Dave
    If I use Photoshop and use the “Save for Web” feature is there a need to also use an image optimizing plugin like EWWW? My site is very heavy image based, a photography site, and so quality as well as load times are important.

    Thanks for the post and any comment.

    1. Hi David, I’m actually not that familiar with Photoshop’s Save For Web feature. I always just save it normally and then do my own optimisation. I’d be interested in knowing what it does if you find out though

  15. David says:

    Hello Dave

    I’ve used Photoshop and the Save for Web function for years now so was surprised when the different web site speed test all seemed to be saying to optimize my images. As it’s a Photo Site with big images I want to keep them looking good but still load in a reasonable amount of time. Anyway…thought I’d send you this link in case you wanted to learn more about the feature. http://tv.adobe.com/watch/understanding-adobe-photoshop-cs6/save-for-web/

    Thanks for the previous reply.

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