10 Types of Image File Extensions and When to Use Them

10 Types of Image File

Have you ever wondered when it’s better to utilize a JPG rather than a PNG? Maybe you’re only looking for an application that will open an INDD file.

Unless you’re a graphic designer by trade (like me), you’ve probably never needed to know what distinguishes a TIF from a PDF or a PSD. While the sheer number of picture formats available may appear daunting, there is a method to the madness.

We’ve put together a handy guide to help you understand the differences between each file format and when to utilize them.

Vector vs. Raster

First things first: What is the difference between vector and raster?

Raster Image Files

Raster pictures are made up of a series of pixels, or discrete blocks, that are arranged to produce a picture. Raster image extensions include JPEG, GIF, and PNG. A raster image is any image you see on the internet or in print. Pixels have a specific proportion based on their resolution (high or low), and when they are stretched to occupy areas they were not designed to fill, they distort, resulting in fuzzy or confusing images.

Raster images cannot be resized without reducing their resolution in order to maintain pixel quality. As a result, it’s critical to saving raster files at the exact size required by the application.

Vector Image Files

Vector graphics are significantly more adaptable. Rather than pixels, proportionate formulas are used to create them. For graphics that need to be resized frequently, EPS, AI, and PDF are ideal. Your logo and brand visuals should have been generated in vector format, and you should keep a master file on hand at all times. The true beauty of vectors is their flexibility to be scaled down to the size of a postage stamp or up to the size of an 18-wheeler!

If you’re not sure if you have a vector version of your logo, try this simple test: Make a phone call to the company that printed your business cards or embroidered your emblem on a shirt. They’ll frequently have a vector file of your logo that they can offer you for your records.

High Resolution vs. Low Resolution

Have you ever heard your designer use the terms DPI and PPI? PPI stands for “pixels per inch,” while DPI stands for “dots per inch.” These units of measurement are necessary for establishing whether the pixel density of a picture is adequate for the application.

The most important factor to consider when calculating what DPI or PPI you need is whether you’re using a picture for print or for the web. Photographs on websites are displayed at 72dpi, which is a modest resolution; nonetheless, images at this resolution appear to be very clear on the web. In the case of print, however, this is not the case. When printing an image, it should have a resolution of at least 300 pixels per inch (dpi).

Do not attempt to deceive the system. Photoshop can do a lot of things, but one of them isn’t producing pixels out of thin air. Trying to fit an image from the web into the proportions of your print job isn’t going to work. You’ll get a pixelated, stretched image as a result.

1. JPEG (or JPG) – Joint Photographic Experts Group

JPEGs are the most popular file format you’ll come across on the internet, and they’re almost certainly the image on your company’s MS Word version of its letterhead. JPEGs are recognized for their “lossy” compression, which means the image quality degrades as the file size shrinks.

JPEGs can be used for web projects, Microsoft Office documents, and projects that require high-resolution printing. When working with JPEGs, paying attention to the resolution and file size is critical for professional-looking output.


There is no difference between the filename extensions.jpg and.jpeg. It doesn’t matter what you call your file; it’ll still be in the same format and act the same way.

Because.jpeg was abbreviated to.jpg to fit the three-character constraint in early versions of Windows, the two extensions exist for the same format. .jpg remains the standard and default on many image software packages, despite the fact that it is no longer required.

2. PNG – Portable Network Graphics

PNGs are great for interactive documents like web pages, but they’re not good for printing. PNGs are “lossless,” which means they can be edited without losing quality, but they are still low resolution.

PNGs are commonly used in online projects because they allow you to save images with more colors on a transparent background. This results in a significantly sharper, high-quality image for the web.

3. GIF – Graphics Interchange Format

GIFs are most commonly seen in their animated version, which is popular on Tumblr pages and in banner advertisements. We seem to see pop culture GIF references from Giphy in the comments of social media posts on a daily basis. GIFs are made up of up to 256 colors in the RGB colorspace in their most basic form. The file size is considerably decreased due to the limited amount of colors.

This is a typical file format for web applications where a picture must load quickly but maintain a high level of quality, as opposed to one that must retain a higher level of quality.

4. TIFF – Tagged Image File

A TIF file is a big raster file with no loss of quality. This file type is recognized for using “lossless compression,” which means that the original image data is preserved no matter how many times you copy, re-save, or compress it.

Despite the potential of TIFF images to restore their quality after alteration, this file type should not be used on the web. It will have a significant influence on website performance because it can take a long time to load. When saving images for printing, TIFF files are often utilized.

5. PSD – Photoshop Document

PSDs are files created and saved in Adobe Photoshop, the most widely used graphics editing software of all time. This file type contains “layers,” which make editing the image considerably easier. This is also the application that creates the above-mentioned raster file types.

The most significant disadvantage of PSDs is that they deal with raster images rather than vector images.

6. PDF – Portable Document Format

Adobe created PDFs in order to capture and evaluate rich information from any programme, on any machine, with anybody, anywhere. So far, I’d say they’ve been quite successful.

If your vector logo is saved in PDF format, you may examine it without any design editing tools (as long as you have downloaded the free Acrobat Reader software), and the designer can manipulate the file further. This is without a doubt the best all-around tool for sharing graphics.

7. EPS – Encapsulated Postscript

EPS is a vector format file that is used to create high-resolution graphics for printing. An EPS can be created using almost any design software.

The EPS file extension is more of a universal file type (similar to PDF) that may be used to open vector-based artwork in any design editor, not only Adobe’s. This protects file transfers to designers who don’t use Adobe programmes and instead use Corel Draw or Quark.

8. AI – Adobe Illustrator Document

AI is by far the most popular image format among designers and the most reliable file format for using photos in a variety of projects, including web and print.

Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard for creating artwork from scratch, thus it’s very likely that your logo was created in this tool. Illustrator creates vector artwork, which is the simplest form of file to work with. All of the aforementioned file types can also be created using it. It’s quite cool! It is, without a doubt, the most effective weapon in any designer’s inventory.

9. INDD – Adobe InDesign Document

INDDs (InDesign Documents) are Adobe InDesign files that are created and saved. Larger publications, such as newspapers, magazines, and eBooks, are frequently created with InDesign.

InDesign can integrate files from Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to create content-rich designs with advanced typography, embedded graphics, page content, formatting information, and other layout-related features.

10. RAW – Raw Image Formats

The least-processed image type on this list is a RAW image, which is generally the first format a photograph acquires when it’s made. When you take a picture with your camera, it’s saved in the raw format right away. Only when you transfer your media to a different device and edit it using picture software does it use one of the image extensions listed above.

RAW photos are significant because they capture all of the elements of a photograph without losing minute visual details due to processing. You’ll need to bundle them into a raster or vector file type at some point so they can be transferred and resized for various uses.

As you can see from the icons above, there are a variety of raw picture files from which to take photos, many of which are specific to specific cameras (and there are still dozens more formats not shown above). Here’s a quick rundown of the four raw files mentioned above:


Canon RAW 2 is an image extension that was produced by Canon for images taken with their own digital cameras. They’re based on the TIFF file format, which means they’re intrinsically high-quality.


Canon also invented this picture extension, which existed before the CR2.


Nikon Electric Format is a RAW file format designed by (you guessed it) Nikon Cameras. These image files can be edited extensively without having to switch file formats, as long as the editing is done using a Nikon device or a Nikon Photoshop plugin.


The Pentax Electronic Format picture extension refers to a RAW image file format developed by Pentax Digital Cameras.

Working with photographs is far more difficult than it appears at first glance. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the different file types and which ones are best for your project.

Do you have any idea what file types of your logo you have on hand after reading this article? Take a look, and if you don’t have an.EPS or.AI file, I recommend getting in touch with your designer.

Jessie-Lee brings a unique blend of graphic design skills, marketing, and social media knowledge to her role as Art Director at Quintain Marketing. Jessie-Lee has considerable experience in the creation and implementation of social media strategies, including blogging and the usage of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, in addition to her design skills.

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