How do we keep this site running? This post may contain affiliate links — the cost is the same to you, but we get a referral fee. Compensation does not affect rankings. Thanks!
If you’ve been working on your PC for a while, you’ve no doubt come across some strange, and in the event that they don’t work, annoying file formats. 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 and what they’re used for.
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.
Because of the length and depth of each of these sections, we’ve divided them up into separate pages. Select the file format you’d like to learn about from the list below:
Types of File Formats
File Format Grid
Below is a master grid of some of the most common file formats. Below the image, we outline the name and type of each file. For details, visit one of the respective file format type pages listed above.
Audio File Formats
- OGG, WAV, MP3, MID
Video File Formats
- AVI, FLV, WMV, MOV, MPG, FLA
Image File Formats
- JPG, GIF, EPS, PSD
Office File Formats
- PDF, TXT, DOC, XLS, PPT, MDB, ZIP
Web File Formats
- XML, PHP, CSS, HTML
Comment With Your File Format Questions
Did we miss a file format? Is there 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!
Additional File Formats
There are a number of other file format types that have not yet been covered that you may run across at some point, these include: compressed file formats, database file formats, desktop publishing file formats, font files and vector graphics.
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 is 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 is 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 files are 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 is a file format used to recognize a Microsoft database such as that utilized by Microsoft Office.
LDB is a file format used to recognize temporary database files; since these files are temporary they only exist during the time that the database itself is open.
DAT is a file format used to recognize DOS basic database files.
DB file formats are used to recognize both Paradox and SQLite database files.
MDB file formats are used to recognize Microsoft database files.
NSF file formats are used to recognize database files for Lotus Notes.
PDB file formats are used to recognize database files for Palm OS.
WDB file formats are used to recognize database files for Microsoft Works.
ADP file formats are used to recognize database files for Microsoft Access; these files are 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.
Files with INDD format are files created for the Adobe InDesign desktop publishing software.
Files with PMD format are files created for the Adobe PageMaker desktop publishing software.
Files with PPP format are files created for Serif PagePlus desktop publishing software.
Files with MCR format are files created for FotoInsight Designer desktop publishing software.
Files with PUB format are files created for Microsoft Publisher desktop publishing software.
SLA or SCD
Files with either SLA or SCD format are files created for Scribus desktop publishing software.
Files with FM format are files created for Adobe FrameMaker desktop publishing software.
Font 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 files are recognized as TrueType font files; these are one of the most commonly found font file formats.
FON files are recognized as Bitmapped font files used by Microsoft Windows.
FNT files are recognized as bitmapped fonts through the Graphical Environment Manager.
OTF files are recognized as OpenType font files, these are another of the more commonly found font file formats.
BMF files are recognized as ByteMap font formats.
BDF files are recognized as Bitmap distribution format fonts.
TDF files are recognized as TheDraw font file formats.
PCF files are recognized as portable compiled font files.
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 file extensions refer to vector graphics that have been created using Ability Draw software.
AI file extensions refer to vector graphics that have been created using Adobe Illustrator software.
CDR file extensions refer to vector 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.
ODG file extensions refer to vector graphics that have been created in OpenDocument software.
SVG files are vector image files that use XML to create images.
CGM files are also recognized as Computer Graphics Metafile files and are an ISO standard file type.
WMF file extensions refer to vector graphics that are Windows Meta Files.