Have you ever downloaded an image and wondered what the different extensions mean? You download a picture and you see the words .JPG, .PNG, .WEBP, .GIF, .TIFF, etc at the end of the file. And you don’t know what they stand for. You wonder, “It’s just a picture, right? What is the significance of these different expressions? How will I know where to use which one?”

We have designed this article to answer all of these queries. Read below to help us guide you through the uses of different image file formats and when to use which file type.

What is a file format?

The file type or format refers to a file’s structure, which instructs a programme on how to display its contents. A Microsoft Word document, for example, saved in the word file extensions .doc or .docx.

working on files

Microsoft Word is the finest programme for viewing DOC files. Even if another application can open the file, it might not have all of the necessary functionality to display it appropriately.

Before we begin discussing about the various image formats, let’s clear our basics. What is an image file format exactly? Let’s get to that now.

What are image file formats?

Image file formats are a set of standards for organising and storing digital photographs. Uncompressed data, compressed data (which can be lossless or lossy), or vector data can all be stored in an image file format. Image files are made up of digital data that has been rasterized for usage on a computer display or printer in one of these formats.

file formats

What are the various image file types?

Keeping track of all available picture file extensions is difficult even for the most experienced coders. Using the incorrect (or poor) file format can lead to many distinct issues.

It could lead to poor quality of images, unnecessarily huge file sizes, the process of sending these large files can become very slow, data may become inaccessible within the filer.

In simple terms, it’s critical to recognise and comprehend the various types accessible, as well as their functions, features, and capabilities. But where do we begin with so many different file types?

Here is a list of image file types:

Popular Raster Image File Formats

  • JPG
  • GIF
  • TIFF
  • PNG
  • PSD
  • BMP
  • WEBP
  • RAW
  • HEIF
  • INDD
  • JPEG 2000

Very common Vector Image File Formats

  • EPS
  • AI
  • SVG
  • PDF

Now, you may be wondering, what are these? What exactly is a raster image fie type, or what is vector image file format? Don’t fret, we’ll cover that too!

What are raster images and vector images?

The more common of the two image kinds is a raster image. They’re high-resolution, complicated files. They are made up of billions of minuscule pixels. As a result, they can’t be enlarged considerably without seeming grainy and low-quality. So, they end up with a deteriorated quality when they are resized.


Polygons, rather than pixels, are used to make vector images. Vector images, unlike raster images, do not lose quality when resized. But again, huge vector images have the disadvantage of requiring more polygons to maintain quality, resulting in extremely large files.

When should we use them?

Let’s begin with a little background of each of the file types, before delving into when to use which format.

Raster image formats:

JPG: These are used for realistic picture quality. Also, for intricate graphics with vibrant colours, this is the best option. JPGs employ lossy compression, which results in a smaller file size. Lossy compression, on the other hand, leads in a reduction in image quality after each image alteration.

jpg format

GIF: The GIF file format can only hold a limited number of colours. So, it is considered as perfect for making simple graphics and logos. Animated GIFs are also possible to create. Hence, GIFs are mostly used for animations.

gif format

TIFF: TIFFs are appropriate for cases when you don’t want to sacrifice image quality but don’t care about file size. If you’re storing photos to print later, for example. If you’re using desktop publishing software, you could require them, or they’re what your scanner sends to your computer.

PNG: The PNG file format, unlike JPGs, allows for transparency. Hence, we can say that, the objects in an image can be made transparent. PNGs are also lossless, which means that no matter how many times a picture is modified, the quality will remain the same. PNGs, like JPGs, are typically used for high-resolution, colourful photos and photographs.

png format

WEBP: Google created this format to combine the greatest features of JPGs and PNGs: quality and compression. WEBP image files can be compressed using either lossy or lossless compression, giving users the option of maintaining image quality or reducing file size.

PSD: If you use Adobe Photoshop, and wish to collaborate or save work to be revised later, PSDs are useful. They’re also compatible with Adobe’s Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and After Effects programmes.

BMP: TIFF is superior to BMP in practically every manner. So, we only use BMPs if the image needs to be opened on an older Windows system.

So, Raster image formats or pixel graphics (as they are called) are primarily used for image processing and are suitable for creating complex, artistic graphics.

Vector image formats:

EPS: EPS files, often known as Encapsulated PostScript files, are vector picture files similar to AI files. Bitmaps can be included in EPS image files. PDF has generally replaced EPS as the main vector image exchange format. But we mainly use EPS files to export vector pictures to apps that aren’t Adobe.

AI: Adobe Illustrator creates AI files, which are vector picture files based on Adobe Illustrator. It’s a more advanced version of the EPS file format. Non-Adobe programmes are unable to edit these vector image files. So, we use AI files to save Adobe Illustrator creations in a variety of situations.

SVG: SVGs are perfect for generating responsive web design and company logos that must maintain quality whether printed on a business card or a billboard. These are the most commonly used Vector image formats.

PDF: If you wish to share a raster or vector image with the public at large, while still being able to change it within the Adobe software ecosystem, PDFs are a good option. Most browsers can open them, and Adobe offers a free Acrobat Reader to open PDFs if you don’t have one.

So, we can conclude that vector graphics are perfectly appropriate for geometric visuals and figures, as well as logos, fonts, and technical drawings.


We hope that this article helps you gain a wide perspective on the variety of image file formats. You now have an idea of when to use which type of image file extension.

File Type Checker

We hope that you’ll make the right choice, when using various image formats, and choose the appropriate file type for the task. In case you get confused about what type of file you are dealing with, you can check our File Type Checker and find out, in detail, about the type of file you are using and henceforth, make informed decisions.