The PCX file type is an early image format whose popularity has declined since its release in 1985. Some software programs still use PCX because the file type has faxing and scanning applications. Discover the pros and cons of the PCX file type — and how to create a PCX image.
What is a PCX file?
PCX, an acronym for Picture Exchange, is a raster image file type, which means that it uses color pixels to display images. The other main type of image format is vector, which creates visuals using a complex structure of points, lines, graphs, and formulas.
PCX supports 24-bit color images, 8-bit grayscale, and 1-bit black and white, as well as indexed color images. PCX files use the .PCX extension. Multi-page PCXs often save as .DCX.
The PCX format uses RLE (run-length encoding) lossless compression — meaning it doesn’t lose any quality or data when compressed.
History of the PCX file.
ZSoft published the PCX file in 1985 as the native file format for their PC Paintbrush program. The PCX file became a widely accepted standard format for the MS-DOS operating system. It was also one of the first Bitmap image formats used on Windows, but fell out of favor after the release of more advanced image file formats like JPEG, GIF, and PNG.
Initially, PCXs only supported up to 256 palette-based colors. This later extended to incorporate 24-bit color, too. Currently, PCX can support up to 16 million colors.
The PCX format has the capacity for multi-page files, making it a useful file type for fax applications. These file types have the .DCX extension, but incorporate a set of connected PCXs.
The lossless compression and 24-bit color of PCX mean they can also be a useful file type for scanning. Plus, a number of scanning applications support them.
How to create and edit a PCX file.
Follow these easy steps to create a PCX using Adobe Photoshop:
1. Open an Illustrator file and click Save As
2. Select PCX from the Format dropdown menu.
3. Save your new PCX file to a location of your choice.