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Loading Large Bitmaps Efficiently

This lesson teaches you to

  1. Read Bitmap Dimensions and Type
  2. Load a Scaled Down Version into Memory

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Note: For most cases, we recommend that you use the Glide library to fetch, decode, and display bitmaps in your app. Glide abstracts out most of the complexity in handling these and other tasks related to working with bitmaps and other images on Android. For information about using and downloading Glide, visit the Glide repository on GitHub.

Images come in all shapes and sizes. In many cases they are larger than required for a typical application user interface (UI). For example, the system Gallery application displays photos taken using your Android devices's camera which are typically much higher resolution than the screen density of your device.

Given that you are working with limited memory, ideally you only want to load a lower resolution version in memory. The lower resolution version should match the size of the UI component that displays it. An image with a higher resolution does not provide any visible benefit, but still takes up precious memory and incurs additional performance overhead due to additional on the fly scaling.

This lesson walks you through decoding large bitmaps without exceeding the per application memory limit by loading a smaller subsampled version in memory.

Read Bitmap Dimensions and Type

The BitmapFactory class provides several decoding methods (decodeByteArray(), decodeFile(), decodeResource(), etc.) for creating a Bitmap from various sources. Choose the most appropriate decode method based on your image data source. These methods attempt to allocate memory for the constructed bitmap and therefore can easily result in an OutOfMemory exception. Each type of decode method has additional signatures that let you specify decoding options via the BitmapFactory.Options class. Setting the inJustDecodeBounds property to true while decoding avoids memory allocation, returning null for the bitmap object but setting outWidth, outHeight and outMimeType. This technique allows you to read the dimensions and type of the image data prior to construction (and memory allocation) of the bitmap.

BitmapFactory.Options options = new BitmapFactory.Options();
options.inJustDecodeBounds = true;
BitmapFactory.decodeResource(getResources(),, options);
int imageHeight = options.outHeight;
int imageWidth = options.outWidth;
String imageType = options.outMimeType;

To avoid java.lang.OutOfMemory exceptions, check the dimensions of a bitmap before decoding it, unless you absolutely trust the source to provide you with predictably sized image data that comfortably fits within the available memory.

Load a Scaled Down Version into Memory

Now that the image dimensions are known, they can be used to decide if the full image should be loaded into memory or if a subsampled version should be loaded instead. Here are some factors to consider:

For example, it’s not worth loading a 1024x768 pixel image into memory if it will eventually be displayed in a 128x96 pixel thumbnail in an ImageView.

To tell the decoder to subsample the image, loading a smaller version into memory, set inSampleSize to true in your BitmapFactory.Options object. For example, an image with resolution 2048x1536 that is decoded with an inSampleSize of 4 produces a bitmap of approximately 512x384. Loading this into memory uses 0.75MB rather than 12MB for the full image (assuming a bitmap configuration of ARGB_8888). Here’s a method to calculate a sample size value that is a power of two based on a target width and height:

public static int calculateInSampleSize(
            BitmapFactory.Options options, int reqWidth, int reqHeight) {
    // Raw height and width of image
    final int height = options.outHeight;
    final int width = options.outWidth;
    int inSampleSize = 1;

    if (height > reqHeight || width > reqWidth) {

        final int halfHeight = height / 2;
        final int halfWidth = width / 2;

        // Calculate the largest inSampleSize value that is a power of 2 and keeps both
        // height and width larger than the requested height and width.
        while ((halfHeight / inSampleSize) >= reqHeight
                && (halfWidth / inSampleSize) >= reqWidth) {
            inSampleSize *= 2;

    return inSampleSize;

Note: A power of two value is calculated because the decoder uses a final value by rounding down to the nearest power of two, as per the inSampleSize documentation.

To use this method, first decode with inJustDecodeBounds set to true, pass the options through and then decode again using the new inSampleSize value and inJustDecodeBounds set to false:

public static Bitmap decodeSampledBitmapFromResource(Resources res, int resId,
        int reqWidth, int reqHeight) {

    // First decode with inJustDecodeBounds=true to check dimensions
    final BitmapFactory.Options options = new BitmapFactory.Options();
    options.inJustDecodeBounds = true;
    BitmapFactory.decodeResource(res, resId, options);

    // Calculate inSampleSize
    options.inSampleSize = calculateInSampleSize(options, reqWidth, reqHeight);

    // Decode bitmap with inSampleSize set
    options.inJustDecodeBounds = false;
    return BitmapFactory.decodeResource(res, resId, options);

This method makes it easy to load a bitmap of arbitrarily large size into an ImageView that displays a 100x100 pixel thumbnail, as shown in the following example code:

    decodeSampledBitmapFromResource(getResources(),, 100, 100));

You can follow a similar process to decode bitmaps from other sources, by substituting the appropriate BitmapFactory.decode* method as needed.

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