Graphics file format

See also Category:Graphics file formats

Here is a summary of the most common graphics file formats:

Common Raster Graphics Formats
file extension MIME type proper name description
.art ? ART ART is a proprietary image file format mostly used by the America Online® client software. The ART format holds a single still image that has been highly compressed.
.bmp image/bmp Windows Bitmap Commonly used by Microsoft Windows programs, and the Windows operating system itself. Lossless compression can be specified, but some programs use only uncompressed files.
.cin image/cineon Cineon Cineon is a subset of the ANSI/SMPTE DPX file format with fixed headers
.cpt ? Corel Photo-Paint Image Default proprietary format for Corel Photo-Paint documents. Has many extra features such as image layering. Supported by very few image editing programs other than Corel Photo-Paint. Photo-Paint Images are usually smaller than Photoshop Documents.
.dpx image/dpx Digital Picture eXchange file format The ANSI/SMPTE DPX is a Kodak standard similar to Cineon but with flexible and variable image headers.
.exr image/exr Extended Dynamic Range Image File Format OpenEXR is the Open Source high dynamic-range (HDR) file format developed by Industrial Light & Magic for advanced imaging in movie production. The main advantage of that format are up to 32-bit floating-point pixels and multiple lossless image compression algorithms up to 2:1 lossless compression on film grained images
.fpx image/vnd.fpx Flashpix (1.0.2) Uncompressed / lossy, 8-bit grayscale & 24-bit color. Provides multiple resolutions of each image.
.gif image/gif Graphics Interchange Format GIF is used extensively on the web. Supports animated images. Supports only 255 colors per frame, so requires lossy quantization for full-color photos (dithering); using multiple frames can improve color precision. Uses lossless LZW compression, that used to make GIF avoided sometimes due to patent issues concerning LZW.
? Interchange file format / Interleave bitmap File format popular on the Amiga computer. ILBM is a subtype of the IFF fileformat, which can contain more as just pictures.
image/jpeg Joint Photographic Experts Group JPEG is used extensively for photos and other continuous tone images on the web. Uses lossy compression by trying to equalize eight by eight pixels; the quality can vary greatly depending on the compression settings.
image/jpeg2000 Joint Photographic Experts Group JPEG 2000 is the successor of popular "JPEG", a new wavelet based file format that includes both lossy and lossless compression options. It's commonly considered the actual "state-of-the-art" lossy format for photographic imaging, however it's support in modern systems is still weak due to heavy requirements for hardware and many patents for software
.mng video/x-mng Multiple-image Network Graphics Animation format using datastreams similar to those of PNG and JPEG, originally designed to replace the use of animated GIF on the web. Free of the patent associated with animated GIF.
.pbm ? Portable Bitmap Format A simple black and white graphics format. It uses 1 bit per pixel. Unlike most graphics file formats, a PBM file is plain text and can be processed with text procesing tools. It is related to the PGM (grayscale) and PPM (color) graphics file formats.
.pcd image/jpcd ?? ImagePac Photo CD Proprietary Kodak format, lossy, 24-bit color.
.pgm ? Portable Graymap Format A simple gray scale graphics format. It uses 8 bits per pixel. Unlike most graphics file formats, a PGM file is plain text and can be processed with text procesing tools. It is related to the PBM (black and white) and PPM (color) graphics file formats.
.png image/png Portable Network Graphics PNG is an image format with lossless compression, offering bit depths from 1 to 32. It was mainly designed to replace the use of GIF on the web. Free of the patent, which expired in 2003, associated with GIF.
.ppm ? Portable Pixmap Format A simple color graphics format. It uses 24 bit per pixel, 8 for red, 8 for blue, and 8 for green. Unlike most graphics file formats, a PPM file is plain text and can be processed with text procesing tools. It is related to the PBM (black and white) and PGM (grayscale) graphics file formats.
.psd application/x-photoshop Photoshop Document Default proprietary format for Adobe Photoshop documents. Has many extra features such as image layering. Supported by very few image editing programs other than Adobe Photoshop.
.psp ? Paint Shop Pro Document Standard Jasc format for Paint Shop Pro documents, similar to .psd for Photoshop. Supported by very few other programs.
image/tiff Tagged Image File Format TIFF is used extensively for traditional print graphics. Lossy and lossless compression available, but many programs only support a subset of available options.
.wbmp image/vnd.wap.wbmp Wireless Application Protocol Bitmap Format Mainly used with WML for wireless devices.
.xbm image/x-xbitmap X BitMap Native B&W format for the X Window System, supported by most web browsers. An ASCII format which uses no compression designed so that files are in C(++) syntax so images can be included in source code.
.xcf ? eXperimental Computing Facility Native format for the GIMP. Has many extra features such as image layering. Used mostly in the GIMP, but also readable by ImageMagick.
.xpm image/x-xpm X-Pixmap Used almost exclusively on UNIX platforms with the X Window System, inspired by the XBM format.
? ? OpenEXR A high dynamic range imaging file format, open sourced by Industrial Light and Magic.

Common Meta-File Formats (either Raster or Vector)
file extension MIME type proper name description
.eps image/eps ?? Encapsulated PostScript Used for a PostScript (.ps) output device.
.pict image/pct ?? Picture Default for pre-Mac OS X Macintoshes

Common Vector Graphics Formats
file extension MIME type proper name description
.ai application/illustrator Adobe Illustrator Document Vector format for Adobe Illustrator.
.cgm image/cgm Computer Graphics Metafile ISO Standard - It is used in the aviation industry. (CGM members (
.dxf image/vnd.dxf ASCII Drawing Interchange Standard ASCII text files used to store vector data for CAD programs.
.eps ? Encapsulated PostScript A PostScript file that describes a small vector graphic, as opposed to a whole page or set of pages.
.fh ? Macromedia Freehand Document Vector format for Macromedia Freehand.
.fla ? Flash Source File Shockwave Flash source file, only usable by Macromedia Flash authoring software.
.pdf application/pdf Portable Document Format A much simplified version of PostScript allowing for files containing multiple pages and links. Works with Adobe Acrobat Reader or Adobe eBook Reader.
.ps application/postscript PostScript Generic vector-based page description language, created and owned by Adobe. Postscript is a powerful stack-based programming language. Supported by many laser printers.
image/svg+xml Scalable Vector Graphics An XML based vector graphics format, as defined by the World Wide Web Consortium for use in web browsers.
.swf application/x-shockwave-flash Flash Flash is a web page plug-in that displays vector based animations contained in SWF files. Several applications can create SWF files; these include the Flash authoring tool from Macromedia.
.wmf image/x-wmf Windows Metafile Stores vector graphics and raster graphics as a sequence of commands to be issued to the graphics layer of the Microsoft Windows operating system.

Some file formats, e.g. PDF, allow both raster and vector graphics. This is because the underlying PostScript system of the Portable Document Format is designed to handle both methods of creating graphics.


  • Murray, James D., and William van Ryper. Encyclopedia of Graphics File Formats, Seceond Edition. Sebastopol, Calif.: O'Reilly, 1996. ISBN 1565921615.
  • Miano, John. Compressed Image File Formats: JPEG, PNG, GIF, XBM, BMP. Boston: Addison-Wesley Professional, 1999. ISBN 0201604434.

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