TIFFs are a file format popular with graphic designers and photographers for their flexibility, high-quality and near-universal compatibility. Learn more about these raster graphic files and how you can put them to use in your next project.
What is a TIFF file?
A TIFF, which stands for Tag Image File Format, is a computer file used to store raster graphics and image information. A favourite among photographers, TIFFs are a handy way to store high-quality images before editing if you want to avoid lossy file formats.
- Have either a .tiff or .tif extension.
- Are a lossless form of file compression, which means they’re larger than most but don’t lose image quality.
- Work with Windows, Linux and macOS.
TIFFs aren’t the smallest files around, but they enable a user to tag up extra image information and data, such as additional layers. They’re also compatible with editing software like Adobe Photoshop.
Advantages of TIFF files.
- Predominantly lossless compression means TIFF files retain the original image’s detail and colour depth — perfect for high-quality professional photos.
- Their impressive detail means TIFFs are ideal for high-resolution scans, such as backing up your handmade artwork and personal documents.
- TIFFs are universal and adaptable as a file format, so can be used with the major operating systems.
- The file can work as a container for smaller-sized JPEGs, storing multiple images in one master raster graphic.
- TIFFs are a good option to store high-resolution images ahead of editing and asset creation.
Disadvantages of TIFF files.
- Detail and resolution lead to TIFFs being quite large files. They can take up valuable space on your drive.
- Their size makes them difficult to share or send to contacts or clients.
- Their high-quality makes them a poor choice for website design, since detailed images can slow a website’s loading speed. Lighter file formats, like a JPEG, might be more useful for online images.
How to open a TIFF file.
As a tagged image file, most computers can open and handle TIFFs, but you’ll need editing software like Adobe Photoshop to make any edits to the original image. If you’re just looking to view the TIFF, follow these steps:
- Select the TIFF file you want to open on your drive or wherever you have it stored.
- The TIFF image should open automatically in Apple Preview.
- Highlight the file you want to open.
- The TIFF file should open in Windows Photo Viewer.
You can set the files to open in a different programme, such as Apple Photos, by changing the default software in your device’s settings.
How to create and edit a TIFF file.
Because they’re among the most common file formats around, TIFFs are relatively easy to create. Simply follow the three steps below:
- Go to File > Save As.
- Choose File Format from the drop-down menu.
- Choose TIFF.