Complete List Of File Formats (And How To Open Them) For Audio, Images, Video & More

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Person on computer (caption: Guide to File Formats)If you’ve been working on your PC for a while, you’ve no doubt come across some strange file formats. The most frustrating thing has to be when you receive an important, time sensitive file from a colleague and you don’t have the software to open it!

What exactly is the need for all these file formats, and what do they do? We take you through the file jungle, sort out the most common and important file formats, and show you what they do, what they’re used for, and which piece of software you need to open them.

Article Overview

File Formats Explained

When it comes to working with graphic design, website construction or even on a personal blog, things tend to get a little confusing without the knowledge of file formats. Even sharing a photography or image online can be aggravating unless you are familiar with the different types of file formats. Depending upon the media that you are working with and the action that you are trying to take in regard to that media, there are various file formats that you should be aware of as well as the flexibility and purpose of each. Whether you are uploading a picture to a blog, editing a video for uploading or making your own mix CD the file formats explained below play an important part in understanding and completing the process.

Audio File Formats

EarbudsEver wonder what powers your Spotify playlist or iPhone songs and why you’re able to store so many songs on such a little device? Here’s a breakdown of the most common audio file formats.


The MP3 audio file format is perhaps the most recognized of all due to the popularity of MP3 players in today’s society. The MP3 file format is an audio encoding format that is also known as the MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 Audio Layer 3 but most people do not recognize these terms as they do the term “MP3”. This type of file format was created by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and was published in 1993. MP3 files are formed through a process known as “lossy” compression, which is a process of encoding the data where some of the material is lost; however, the final product is close enough to the original format to prove useful. The reason that “lossy” compression is utilized for audio files is that the original format is generally extremely large and if it remained as such a large file placing a “playlist” on an MP3 player would be virtually impossible due to the size of the individual files.


The MP4 audio file format is becoming increasingly recognized by users of the video iPod since MP4 file formats can not only hold audio data but they can also hold video data as well. Like the MP3 file format MP4 files can be streamed via the web. The MP4 file format was published for the first time in 2001 and its creation was based upon the QuickTime video format. One confusing aspect of MP4 files for many people is that while most people refer to all aspects of this file type as MP4, the audio files alone are generally recognized by .M4A extensions rather than .MP4 extensions. Just to make things a little more confusing some audio only files utilize an .MP4B extension, generally these types of files are used with audio books since they allow for the file to bookmark your last location and take up where they last left off upon restarting.


Thumbdrive and discsWAV audio files are also referred to as “Wave” files. The Wave file format was released in 1991 and is most often an uncompressed audio format which makes these files larger than MP3 file formats, these files can, however, contain compressed audio files as well. WAV files are universal meaning that they can be utilized on Linux, Windows and Macintosh operating systems. It is common to find small audio clips on the web in the WAV audio format such as sound effects and one word of small phrase sound clips; however, due to the amount of disk space that these files take up it is not common to find songs or albums in this format.


WMA files are otherwise known as Windows Media Audio files because the compression technology utilized to create these files was developed by Microsoft. The initial marketing of the WMA file format in 1999 was based around claims that Microsoft had been able to take MP3 files and compress them further without sacrificing sound quality. These claims of superior audio in a smaller package were quickly met with disagreement and Windows continued to develop their technology. The original WMA files were toted as being 64 Kbits/second and like the MP3 files they were classified as “lossy” audio files. The most improved version of WMA files is the Windows Media Audio Professional or WMA Pro files which are WMA files utilizing the most modern compression technology.


AIFF audio files are also known as Audio Interchange File Format files. AIFF files are among the oldest audio file formats being introduced by Apple in 1988. AIFF files contain uncompressed or raw audio file data which is both a positive and a negative depending upon how you look at it. Since AIFF files are uncompressed data it allows for much faster streaming of audio; however, since the files are so much larger they take up considerably more disk space. The thing that many Apple lovers like about AIFF files (this file format is used most often on Apple systems) is the clarity of the audio since there is no loss of data as occurs in lossy data formats.

Other formats include OGG and MID but those are not as widely used.

Image File Formats

Best Stock Photo Sites ReviewedLearn what enables your web browser to show you images quickly, and find out how different image formats suit different types of images and color types and are compatible with different devices.

We Review The Best Stock Photo Providers


The JPEG image format is otherwise known as the Joint Photographic Experts Group and the name actually refers to the compression method utilized to store the image data. JPEG is the most commonly recognized file extension for image files and is supported by digital cameras as well as they generally output in .jpg format. The size of JPEG images varies depending upon the content of the image as well as how highly it is compressed. High compression in JPEG images creates a grainy look and an overall poor quality image. JPEG images are characterized by a 24-bit total, meaning that they carry 8-bits per color.


The TIFF image format is also known as the Tagged Image File Format and while it is not generally utilized online due to the large size of these images, it is widely accepted in other fields including print and photography. Some digital cameras allow for .TIFF files to be saved directly to the memory of the camera rather than JPEG formats. Where JPEG files only allow for a 24-bit total, the TIFF format can allow for either 24 or 48-bit totals making them much larger.


Digital imagesRAW file formats are image formats that are produced by digital cameras with this function. RAW format is just what it sounds like and a raw format of a picture that is not optimized or compressed making them extremely large. RAW images still compress data but they do so to a smaller extent resulting in far less data being passed over. Working with RAW image files utilizing image editing software can be particularly time-consuming due to the sheer size of individual files.


The PNG is also known as the Portable Network Graphics file format and was produced as a successor to the GIF as it supports many more colors than the GIF extension. PNG files tend to be larger than JPEG images; however, they have the ability to incorporate transparent backgrounds making them useful when incorporating them in to web design elements.


The GIF file extension is also known as the Graphics Interchange Format and is a particularly limited image extension in that it only allows for 256 colors. Such a limited color palette makes it difficult to work with photographic images in GIF form; however, hand drawn elements such as clip art are much more supported by this extension. The most commonly used method of using the GIF extension is to use it for animated images such as flashing banners and advertisements.


The BMP file format is also referred to as the Windows bitmap file extension and is utilized by the Windows operating system. At one time BMP files were popularly used; however, due to their large size they are rarely utilized anymore. Bitmap files are easy to work with on Windows operating systems; however, their size makes them impractical and they can be difficult to work with when utilizing Mac based operating systems.


Screenshot of Photoshop (caption: Photoshop Review)

PSD files are not so much image files as they are graphic source files that belong to the Adobe software Photoshop. Photoshop documents allow for saving of images along with any editing adjustments that have been made to the original image. PSD files cannot be directly displayed in browsers and must be exported in another image format. However, they are utilized with Adobe

Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator (as well as a variety of other Adobe based software) to make adjustments to images before exporting.

Adobe Photoshop image files can be worked with on both Windows and Mac operating systems and allow for a wide range of photo edits and adjustments to be made to an existing image as well as for original images to be created.

Learn More In Our Photoshop Review


PSP image files are similar to Adobe Photoshop documents only they are created for the Corel Paint Shop Pro software. Paint Shop Pro is not as widely utilized by professional designers and image editors; however, since it is often included in software packages when purchasing a new computer where Adobe Photoshop is not, many home users utilize this image editor.

Vector Graphics Files

Vector graphics are file types that utilize geometric elements to represent images, these types of graphics are often required in the printing and promotional industries. The extensions used for vector graphics vary depending upon the software used to create them. Below you will find some of the most commonly recognized vector graphics files.

  • AWG– A vector graphics that have been created using Ability Draw software.
  • AI– A file created using Adobe Illustrator software.
  • CDR – Graphics that have been created using CorelDraw software. There is also a CMX file extension which refers specifically to a vector image created using CorelDraw software.
  • EPS – Short for Encapsulated PostScript it’s a file used in vector-based images in Adobe Illustrator.
  • ODG – Created in OpenDocument software.
  • SVG – Vector image files that use XML to create images.
  • CGM– Also recognized as Computer Graphics Metafile files and are an ISO standard file type.
  • WMF – Windows Meta Files.

Find out more about the various graphic design software options.

Video File Formats

Video cameraLearn what powers your iPod and iPhone videos and and why you’re able to watch feature length films on such a little device.


The MPEG file format was first introduced in 1993 by the Moving Picture Expert Group as a method of delivering both audio and video data by encoding it at the quality level of a CD. MPEG files are generally not preferred currently due to the creation of much higher quality video file extensions that allow for higher quality audio and picture production. The Moving Picture Expert Group is continually working to improve upon this coding format and as a result they have currently released MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, MPEG-7, MPEG-21, MPEG-A, MPEG-B, MPEG-C, MPEG-D, MPEG-E, MPEG-V, MPEG-M and MPEG-U. The latest of these releases was MPEG-U which was released in 2010.


The AVI file format is also known as the Audio Video Interleaved format and made its way on to the market in 1992 when it was released by Microsoft. AVI files give playback of audio and video simultaneously but they also allow for split streaming, however, this is not commonly utilized. The AVI format is not as commonly utilized as other video file formats due to the fact that they are slow on keeping up with changes in technology and as such playback is often interrupted or affected by an inability for the AVI format to function properly.


The QuickTime file format, also known as QTFF is a file format that was developed by Apple for use with the QuickTime application. Due to the structure of QuickTime files and the QuickTime software this type of video file format is often utilized by video editors because it is conducive to restructuring and editing.


Video game stationFLV files are also referred to as Flash or F4V files and are video files that utilize Adobe Flash Player to stream content via the internet. The biggest reason that individuals utilize the Flash format for videos is that it enables them to embed videos within pages and it is viewable by most operating systems. Flash file formats provide higher quality video than many other file formats; however, they require a lot of resources to enable the video to play flawlessly making this an inconvenient file type for older computer systems. Flash is a popular method of creating data among animators and web designers because of the creative freedom in creating SWF files as well as the ability to somewhat protect data by embedding it via the Flash player.


MP4 files, also known as MPEG-4 files are versatile files that are able to not only broadcast audio and video but they are also able to broadcast images and subtitles as well. MP4 files can be streamed via the internet like many other video files. As mentioned above in the audio file section, the audio only aspect of MP4 files is referred to as M4A; however, when referring to audio and video the file extension is MP4. MP4 files are common among Apple users particularly those with iPhones and iPod devices.


RM files are also known as Real Media files and is a format of video utilized by RealNetworks to be utilized on RealVideo and RealAudio. This method of delivering video content is utilized to deliver streaming content via the net.

Other commong formats include WMV for Microsoft videos, MOV for iOS and Macintosh videos and FLA for Adobe Flash, which is quickly becoming obsolete and replaced by HTML5.

Other File Formats

In addition to office formats you might be familiar with like PDF, TXT, DOC, XLS, and PPT there might be some more unfamiliar extensions you are curious about. We also go in more depth and cover all sorts fo web file formats including XML, PHP, CSS and HTML in our web How to Make Your Own Websiteseries.

Compressed File Formats

On occasion when data files are too large to be transferred in original format they are compressed utilizing a compression program. Each program and compression method used will result in a file extension that resembles one of the following.

  • .Zip – The most commonly recognized file compression format. This format results when data is compressed and archived to reduce the size of numerous files or folders bundled together. Zip file formatting allows for the use of a number of compression algorithms. This format is one of the oldest compression formats used; it made its debut in 1989.
  • .RAR – The second most recognized file compression format and often programs offer the option of choosing between .RAR and .Zip compression. RAR stands for Roshal Archive and it supports file spanning and error recovery in addition to data compression. The initial release of the .RAR format was in March of 1993. .RAR files can only be created through the use of specific commercial software due to the licensing requirements for the file format.
  • .tar – Not as commonly seen as other compression file formats, however, there are still many people who utilize .tar files. .tar file compression was created to be written to I/O devices to allow for tape backup but it is currently used to compress data while allowing for group and user permissions, directory structures and dates all to remain intact.

Database File Formats

Many programs and applications rely upon database systems to run and function properly, due to variation in these programs and applications, database files can be formatted in a variety of methods. Some of the more popularly seen database file formats can be seen below.

  • ACCDB – Used to recognize a Microsoft database such as that utilized by Microsoft Office
  • LDB – To recognize temporary database files; since these files are temporary they only exist during the time that the database itself is open
  • DAT – A file format used to recognize DOS basic database files
  • DB – For both Paradox and SQLite database files
  • MDB – Microsoft database files
  • NSF – Files used for Lotus Notes
  • PDB – A format for Palm OS
  • WDB – Microsoft Works
  • ADP – Microsoft Access files used to access databases that are located on a server
  • WMDB – File formats are used to recognize database files for Windows Media

Desktop Publishing File Formats

There are a handful of desktop publishing software applications that allow for the creation of web pages and website files. These software applications offer users the ability to save in “raw” format – that is a file that opens directly in the desktop publishing program in which it was created. Depending upon the desktop publishing software used, you will find that your file has a specific format such as those covered below.

  • INDD – Adobe InDesign desktop publishing software
  • PMD – Adobe PageMaker desktop publishing software
  • PPP – Serif PagePlus desktop publishing software
  • MCF – FotoInsight Designer desktop publishing software
  • PUB – Microsoft Publisher desktop publishing software
  • SLA or SCD – Scribus desktop publishing software
  • FM – Adobe FrameMaker desktop publishing software

Font Files

Installing font screenshotFont files are formatted differently to other file types and as such they have specific file extensions that define them as font files. The following are the most commonly seen font file formats:

  • TTF – TrueType font files; these are one of the most commonly found font file formats
  • FON – Bitmapped font files used by Microsoft Windows
  • FNT – Fonts through the Graphical Environment Manager
  • OTF – OpenType font files, these are another of the more commonly found font file formats
  • BMF – ByteMap font formats
  • BDF –  Bitmap distribution format fonts
  • TDF – TheDraw font file formats
  • PCF – Portable compiled font files

Any File Types We Missed?

Person on laptop learning: Best Online Learning SiteWe covered quite a bit but let us know if there’s something else you have a question about. Perhaps there is some strange, obscure file that you can’t open or run because you don’t know what it is? Comment below or on the page specific to the file format you have a question about (if you know what type of file it is), and we’ll do our best to help you solve the mystery! Dive deeper and grow your skills with an online course and put these files to the test.

What file format do you use most?

About The Author:

Sadie has over 15 years of experience in digital marketing, graphic and web design, social media strategy, email marketing and more. She is a 4th generation small business owner and has worked with a wide range of brands from fortune 500 companies to startups and entrepreneurs.

Sadie is a self-proclaimed Apple/Mac guru and keeps up with all the latest tech trends at conferences including South by Southwest. Sadie has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas at Austin's Moody School of Communications and a concentration in Business from the Red McCombs School of Business.

Her expertise has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The New York Times, Forbes, People, Reader's Digest, Apartment Therapy, and other regional news organizations.

Disclaimer: This website contains reviews, opinions and information regarding products and services manufactured or provided by third parties. We are not responsible in any way for such products and services, and nothing contained here should be construed as a guarantee of the functionality, utility, safety or reliability of any product or services reviewed or discussed. Please follow the directions provided by the manufacturer or service provider when using any product or service reviewed or discussed on this website.

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Nicely and simple explained! It is very helpful in understanding which image formats are associated with which companies or operating systems, and how and when to use which one. I personally prefer RAW because can be edited with users taste and preference, and I use this to work on my RAW images.

This was very informative. It reads more like an index than an article, but the purpose of the article makes this a more readily useable method. I have clients that like to use a variety of formats and I don’t always know the details about the format or how to use it. For me, this is the perfect way to simplify things. I would much rather save this article and come back to it as needed than to attempt to Google format names.

Personally, I just stick with .doc. Some companies still aren’t using .docx files. In fact, my own school doesn’t even use .doc or .docx files at all. They prefer our work be submitted in rich text (.rtf). Since I deal primarily with text files, I can easily go between these formats. Excel though…that’s a whole other story. I don’t even speak that language!

I have a bunch of files saved in ” ADOBE ACROBAT ( PDF ) ” but some old files have a different file type like ” PFD ” and the program don’t recognize it or says it is corrupted. How I can change this type to the new ” pdf “, so the program can read it.

Hi Gustavo,

It’s possible the extension was just a typo. You should be able to simply rename the file’s extension from “.pfd” to “.pdf” (depending on your operating system, you may have to adjust the option to show the file extension).

If that doesn’t work, the PDF extension is associated with ProForm database software.

I suspect several different market trends will cause the Adobe downfall. First, the move to cloud computing is undeniable. The business sector has embraced it fully. The consumer sector is following, probably without even realizing what cloud computing is, and that’s okay. The cloud computing market is defined by all Internet activities that take place out in the “cloud” the applications run online using server power and lots of data packets instead of using hard drive space and computation power of desktop computers. The benefits are immediate and widespread, especially when it comes to picking up and running with small applications that can perform nearly any task. Sure, it has its problems, too (What happens if servers go offline? That’s right, all information and access is lost, at least in the short term), but cloud computing is doubtless here to stay. Most email accounts (Gmail, etc) are already in the cloud.

Right now this means little when it comes to file formats, because cloud applications and web architecture have worked around existing formats to get their jobs done. But there is no reason to expect this to last in the future. The RM format is already specifically designed for new, streaming video. Other video formats may well spring up in the future, designs by anxious new (or high-capital) companies looking for solutions more customized to the cloud, and less dependent on updates.

While current designers are taught Flash from college on and probably can’t imagine life without Flash Player and all the associated building blocks, I suspect embedded video has a lot of territory to explore beyond Flash, and the results may be all-new cloud applications offering a different video and graphic creation system that is ready for the next epoch in online advertising. Of course, this is just conjecture: I am no animator and do have a detailed grasp on what would be needed to move current animators and graphic designers to something sexier than Flash. Maybe it will be a long, long time in coming. But I prefer to keep an open mind about the future.

Additionally, there are a lot of other older video file formats. One of the most common of these is AVI. This is short for audio video interleave. It was developed by MicroSoft some time ago and almost all computers support this type of file. I would imagine that just because MicroSoft is behind this, we should not expect to see this format bite the dust any time soon.

Quicktime is another popular format. This one was developed by Apple and is used all over the internet. One surprising fact about this format is that it is compatible with both Mac and Windows based systems.

The mp4 file format is used primarily to store visual and audio streams online. It uses separate forms of compression for audio and video tracks. These files can also be played on the Apple Quick Time player, as well as a wide range of other players.

Who will replace Adobe, Apple, or other large companies and dismantle the FLV/AVI/QTFF thrones? Well, ideally it will be a new company and new format entirely. But formats don’t generally spring up out of nowhere offering solutions to all our problems, at least not these days. A new and greatly improved MPEG iteration may be able to leap to the forefront, but it would take a drastic reinvention. If I had to take a greater guess, I would say that one of the major online giants would create their own, personalized format within a few years in order to better suit their clients and developers. In other words, Google Movie Format (GMF), Facebook Video Files (FVF), or a similar design. After all, Microsoft already had its turn with AVI. Why not give some other major companies their turn? Maybe a few of the electronics giants, like Sony, will attempt to secure their market share by offering their own video formats.

Of course, the problems with a new format are myriad, especially when the Internet has been designed for all the old formats. There would need to be some serious work done on interconnectivity and usability. However, I still think it is not only possible but also likely.

Every since the Information Age began, digital content has been slowly moving toward a more universal state. Any new innovation has started highly fractured, developed separate markets, and then moved slowly toward a common goal, merging and remerging to form greater formats. Video formats have been going through this cycle for a while, and I think the cycle is far from over. Eventually a dominant video format may emerge that everyone will be able to use. This will become increasingly important as all the emerging markets in China, India, Brazil, etc, begin to use the Internet to a greater extent and develop or adopt video formats of their own.

So here’s looking to the future! Maybe Adobe will step it up and create some new formats that meet the needs of a global Internet audience. I’m still looking forward to some invention by new names, though. If web designers are equally willing to be impressed, perhaps we will see a lot of re-thinking, and brand new ways video formats can be used online!

Reading this makes me wonder what the future of video movie files will look like. For more than ten years the industry has largely been dominated by only a few formats. MPEG is ubiquitous but clunky. Flash and QuickTime files sprout up everywhere, but they are controlled by Adobe, which has had its way with multimedia for a very long time. Will this change at any time during the future?

For the tech industry, Adobe has had an unusually long stranglehold on particular aspects of the market. Of course, part of this is positive. Adobe Acrobat and all related products have been around so long they have become highly efficient at what they do – namely, connecting users with multimedia content. But there are also downsides. When the first iPad came out, everyone around me was commenting on how its lack of synergy with Adobe might doom the device forever. It made it impossible to view a whole swath of documents, images, and video on the Internet, simple because of dependence on a few select formats offered by one company.

The question is whether this will change. Well, in my opinion the question is really when WILL it change, because despite the usefulness of Adobe and its FLV (and many other formats) competition has risen of late, especially with RM and MP4 possibilities. Web architecture evolutions have been a long time in supporting these changes, but it too has developed in recent years. It may not be too many more years before the Adobe formats have outlived their usefulness, despite the regular updates that Adobe provides to increase functionality and improve performance.

What a useful article this was! I always wondered what the differences were between MP3, WAV, and MP4/M4A, and why certain players were able to read different file types but not others. I was not aware that MP3 and MPEG were the same, either, or what the acronyms stood for. Very useful and educational. I find it especially interesting about MP3 that when the files are compressed, some information is lost. I wonder how that was figured out and whether that is what makes MP3s un-playable when you burn them onto a disc and try to play them on regular CD stereo systems.

The MP4 information was definitely useful as well. I literally had always wondered why some of the MP4 song files I have list the file extension as “.M4A”. That was an incredibly interesting and informative piece. I had my suspicions as to whether it was just iTunes that could read these, as well. I think a companion article explaining why different personal music devices can only play certain file types might be interesting, or at least listing which programs will open music files of different types. For instance, I just bought a digital album off of MOG, but when I downloaded it, the files were in .FLAC format, which my CD player, car stereo, and iTunes will not recognize. Fortunately I have Windows Media Player, so I can still listen to the album at all, but I cannot put it into my iTunes playlists or listen to it on my iPod- quite a bummer! If I had known about file formats and which types are compatible with which software and programs, this and other incidents might have easily been prevented.

The WAV portion of the article also answered a lot of lingering confusion I had about this file type. I once wasted an entire burnable disc on two WAV format sound clips when I had wanted to burn a twelve song mixed CD interspersed with sound effects. Ten years later, I realize why after reading this article: The WAV clips are just that large. (At the time, I wondered whether the WAV files were somehow making the disc un-writeable after they were burned onto it.) The cross-compatibility with different operating systems is some information that I am always glad to see listed, too, since I have a Mac myself and I do run into compatibility issues not infrequently.

The AIFF information was useful, but I am not entirely sure that I have come across this file type although it is more than likely that I have. Although the file types are large, I would like to at least hear the difference between an AIFF and an MP3, as supposedly the sound quality is better and there is no data lost. I think I would like AIFF as a recording artist so that my live or studio performances were produced without the data loss before being put into the popular MP3 or MP4 formats.

The article was very useful and informative, but the beginning fell a bit short for me. I appreciated the list of file formats under the heading of what the important uses are for each, but I thought that there should be at least a miniature explanation of what the differences are between the file types in each category. This way I could get the gist of what the advantages were of each file type without having to click through twenty-five separate links. The links, incidentally, were not included in the version I read, and I would have greatly appreciated it if they had been. There were many file formats listed that I was vaguely familiar with but wanted to know more. I think a good change for this article would be to create a table with columns listing what type of file it is, which programs open it, and what the main feature of that file type is. The table would give a quick guide that could be used for reference even after reading the more detailed information provided in the link pages.

The updated portion I found to be presented well, and in some way I wished that the first part of the article were presented in a similar fashion. I really liked how the article listed which programs would open certain file types, although I know at least .RAR files cannot be opened on a Macintosh without a special program. This got me to wondering what other types of files are operating system-specific, such as .PAGES, which I have on iWorks for my Mac but up until recently was unaware that they could not be opened in Windows or Linux. However, the article had a lot of depth and credibility in its own right when the more unusual database file formats were explained. These are all file formats I and probably most people have seen on in database or utility folders but never really understood. The desktop publishing format descriptions were likewise very useful, since I was not familiar with them but many of them I have seen before. Some of the fear I would otherwise have about opening or saving to one of these formats was alleviated just by having a working knowledge of what the file format actually is and how to open it. Finally, I had no idea how many font file formats really existed. This makes sense with how many different programs use font files, but I would have liked to know more about which font file formats were compatible with which programs, and better yet, if any of them were incompatible with Mac.

The vector graphics piece was not especially relevant to me personally right now, but I did like that it was included in the article. This seems like the type of information I might file away and save for a time when it could be needed; a foreseeable possibility.

Overall a very useful article and I will keep it on hand.

Although I am not by any means a graphic designer or really consider myself very interested in images and working with computer graphics, I found myself learning quite a bit and enjoying this article. The author goes into a solid basic description of some of the more common image file types available today. Although it started off in a very stiff and technical sounding fashion (This is a section of our article on file formats…), it soon turned into a very informative and engaging exchange of information.

The first file format discussed was JPEG. Personally, I have worked with these files for what seems like ages. However, I never knew what those initials stood for (the Joint Photographic Experts Group), or that it refers to the compression method used. It is also the main file format used by major digital cameras.

The article next moves on to the TIFF file format. This file format is not generally used online, but is more widely accepted in print and photography fields. Additionally, this file format can use either 24 or 48 bit memory totals, making these files significantly larger (JPEGs only use 24 bit).

RAW file formats are just what they sound like, a raw file that is not optimized or compressed. As you can imagine, this results in a rather large file size.

The article continues by talking about PNG and GIF file formats. These are both older versions and not used as often as they have been in the past. The author points out that PNG files are probably most commonly used now as backgrounds and basic animation images in combination with flash websites. GIF images are often used as flashing banners and advertisements since their color palette really limits what can be done with them.

Next up is the BMP file format, also known as bitmap. They are best utilized by the windows operating system. However, due to their file sizes, they are not very commonly used any more.

One of the most popular image types is the PSD, or PhotoShop Documents. Their popularity is due to the fact that they are associated with a very powerful imaging program and can only be properly displayed and edited within the Adobe suite of products. PSP image files follow along the same vein, being proprietary to Corel Paint Shop Pro software. This package is not popular with professional graphic designers, but has a large following among home computer users.

Once again, as a layman in terms of graphic design, I was quite pleased to have come across this article. It provided a lot of information that I found interesting and useful. In addition to now knowing where all of these files came from, I think this will also help me to make better decisions about which images to use in the next website I develop or book I write. Many other users will also find some value here too, if just in understanding which image formats are associated with which companies or operating systems.

Thanks for the obscure file format information.



Cel Financial Services

Second that for adding more file formats to this article. Maybe even include a file search based on file extensions?

This is a good start – any change you’ll be adding some of the more obscure file formats to your lists in the near future?

Keep on rockin’!