27b  PSP crunches gif colors down with 2 different hammers
(Use the GIF EXPORT or do it manually from the Colors menu)

... let's talk

Grasping basics
How many colors & what method?
If the glut of tabs & wizards makes things too confusing,
look 'em over for possible future references & then ignore 'em.

Should you actually need to dither a semi transparent drop shadow later on
... you'll know where to go.

1. Export GIF 
Get comfy with your Transparency tab and this Colors tab
(all the other stuff is options and frosting)

With its preview windows & instant file size readouts
this is a great place to comparison shop.

Advantage of this box over the manual box is the immediate file size readouts.

Disadvantage we have to open the saved image to see a full view of how it actually turned out or to edit its palette.


Pick your method
For all gif reductions there are basically three choices. Standard (Also known as websafe or Windows) Median & Octree.

Standard This guy is usually the smallest file. With a little palette editing (he does like to hop in there & change your colors) he can be a good choice for the trimmest file.

Median Cut Kinda like the middle child doing a thrifty steady job in reducing our colors and is quite reasonable with his file size fees.

Octree He does trickier stuff when you need it most, in rendering the closest colors.  He charges us a wee bit more in file size for his deluxe service & it's often worth it.

Pick your color count
Boiling artistic/scientific data down to a bottom line usable answer.

Dial downwards until your preview window vomits ... then back off some.

The bigger penny pinching methods we choose for Gifs, the more likely it is that colors will change during the reduction process.  When we insist on the closest match AND the tiniest file, some pallet editing may be necessary.


2. Manual  Menus> Colors> Decrease Color Depth

Advantage You see the results immediately on your image (not just in a tiny preview window) plus it's faster & easier to edit the palette right then & there before it even gets saved.

Disadvantage ... no file size readouts, we gotta go hunting for that final file size.

Watch out for Error diffusion guy
High-tech enough to do helpful trick stuff, but he'll very happily over-orchestrate a bunch of dots and dither right into your images with his pocket protector slide ruler kinda ways.  Use him, but with care and caution.

My head is spinning, just tell me what to choose?

There's no absolute answer covering all images ... but most screen capture menus & dialog boxes do well at 16 colors & are quite happy at Optimized Octree with Nearest color setting.

So, which method is best?
What ever suits you

I personally prefer reducing colors with the manual box and then popping that image over into Gif Export as an Existing Palette for additional comparison shopping + accessing the advanced options & SAVE from there.

The real key is to get the best image for the cheapest file size -
on that assignment, both methods work fine.

Now for any of our transparency fine tunings or issues
GIF Export is definitely the way to go.

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