Why is image DPI doubled when exporting with a multiplier?

When exporting using @2x, @3x, etc multipliers, Figma not only doubles the resolution (width x height) it also doubles the DPI of the image.

I’ve been told by Figma on twitter that this is by design. My question is why?

DPI is useful for print, but digital screens and devices completely ignore DPI when rendering an image. All they care about is the resolution. I know this sounds wrong, but it’s a fact. An image that is 100x100 will display the same on screen regardless of it is 72 or 144 DPI.

High Density screens rely on larger resolutions (i.e. double the size, triple the size) and then pixels are doubled or tripled to get the high-quality look of retina or High DPI images.

Also, if screens really did respect DPI, then doubling the DPI would be enough to support these screens. There would be no need to also double the resolution.

By doubling both, you are effectively making an @2x image @4x. You’re also making the resulting exported image unnecessarily large.

We have certain systems that require us to upload images at 72 DPI, and because Figma doubles the DPI when using a multiplier, we have had to resort to exporting using the “w” & “h” short codes.

Is there any way Figma can change this functionality, or give us control over the DPI?

1 Like

Hiya! So full disclaimer: I don’t have an exact answer for you directly. There may be other community members or mods that can answer this better than I can.

I think this older topic may be helpful for context on how DPI functions in Figma (related to exports as well as other things): https://forum.figma.com/t/export-losing-quality-even-using-png-and-2x-higher/3541/61

Hi, yeah this post unfortunately doesn’t touch upon what I’m talking about. This is specifically related to how Figma manipulates DPI of exports, despite devices ignoring this info when rendering the images on screen.

Bumping this topic. After doing some more research it seems Figma uses the DPI to determine if the image is high density or not when re-importing it.

Just want to re-iterate that DPI is for print and not screen displays, so there is no reason to double the DPI of the images for regular export. All screens will ignore this setting and rely on the resolution of the image to handle pixel density. Sometimes it makes @2x, @3x images unnecessarily large.