Facebook is now allowing Chrome and Firefox users to ditch the black background and comments sidebar that surround photos and view them full screen by clicking an expansion arrow in the top right. It also now automatically shows photos at maximum resolution, which is the 2048 x 2048 pixel max upload size, and can be up to 4X bigger on large displays. Facebook has improved the sRGB color profile of photos so that colors appear more vivid and faithful without loading slower.
Before now, Facebook photos could only be viewed at roughly 3/4 of your screen size. Today’s updates will encourage high-res uploads, attract more professional photographers, and make the world’s most popular photo sharing service where 250 million photos are uploaded a day a better experience for everyone. [Update: Some users have now received the photo improvement rollout]
It seems kind of crazy that fullscreen viewing wasn’t an option yet, since people have a natural inclination to see photos as large as possible. But Facebook wants photos to be social. If it showed photos fullscreen by default, it would leave no room for Like, comment, share, and tag buttons. Clicks of these buttons create notifications, and get more people to see photos.
While Facebook’s product decisions don’t usually hinge on ad views, photos are one of Facebook’s core sources of page views beyond the homepage. A switch to default fullscreen photos where ads couldn’t be shown would slash revenue.
Fullscreen mode can also be reached by clicking “Fullscreen” in the Options menu beneath photos. Also, remember to check the “High Res” box when creating an album.
Facebook has made a series of improvements to photos over the last 7 months. In August it upped the maximum resolution of its photos from 720 pixels to 960 pixels and launched its original light box viewer that appears as a massive overlay. In November it improved its uploader to show progress and allow users to add captions and location details before uploads finished. Then in February it formally announced its new photo viewer design that shows comments and ads in the right sidebar rather than beneath photos, which drew many comparisons to the Google+ photo viewer.
Some users have now received the rollout of the photo enhancements, and everyone is supposed to get it today.