Image Files. A Guide to the Different Image File Extensions

Image Files. A Guide to the Different Image File Extensions

Do you know the different types of image file and which one you should you use? Read about image file extensions so you can choose the best one for your needs

If you work with photos or images, you might notice there are different image file types. Some files are best used on the web, others are best for printing, and others give you more creative control with your photo editing. 

Have you ever wondered why there are so many different image file formats or which one you should use? You’re not alone – and we’re here to help! Read on to learn the common image file extensions and which is the right one to use. 

A Quick Primer on Image File Extensions

Images fall into one of two categories: raster or vector. Raster files are like a snapshot – a single image can be made smaller without losing quality but degrades when you enlarge it. They have file extensions like BMP, JPG, GIF, PNG, and TIFF.

Most photos and images are raster images. 

A vector image is a graphic created using individual lines or paths. These are usually shapes, logos, or illustrations and have the file extensions EPS or SVG. They can be scaled up or down to any size without any loss of quality. 

Let’s look at the two most common image file extension types.


On the web, most people use jpg or png files. JPG is shorthand for Joint Photographics Expert Group who created the format in 1982. It compresses images to make them smaller for loading on web pages or sending over email, but compression can cause a loss in visual quality. 

PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics, and it is a newer file format created in 1995. PNG files are compressed to reduce file size, but the compression causes much less quality loss than JPG. PNG files can also include transparency so an image can be used in a wider range of layouts and compositions. 

What If I Need a Different Format?

Most photo and image editing software can convert different types of image files between formats. If you want to improve the quality of a photo or remove the background of an image, you may want to convert jpg to png. With online tools Adobe Spark, you can quickly and easily upload any JPG file and convert it to PNG without extra software.

What Format Should I Use?

There are so many different image file extensions, and it can be unclear which one to use. If you are designing images for the web, JPG files provide the versatility and best file sizes for most applications. If maintaining the best possible quality at the smallest file size is important, consider using PNG. 

You may also encounter image files in formats like TIFF or BMP. The file sizes of these images are best suited for print, but you can convert them to JPG or PNG for use on the web. Depending on the dimensions and image resolution, JPG and PNG files can also be used for print. 

To learn more about graphics and image editing, please explore the rest of our site.