What Is a TIF or TIFF File?

How to Open, Edit, and Convert TIF and TIFF Files

TIF Files
TIF Files.

A file with the TIF or TIFF file extension is a Tagged Image file, used for storing high quality raster type graphics. The format supports lossless compression so that graphic artists and photographers can archive their photos to save on disk space without compromising quality.

GeoTIFF Image files also use the TIF file extension. These are image files as well but they store GPS coordinates as metadata along with the file, using the extensible features of the TIFF format.

Some scanning, OCR, and faxing applications also utilize TIF/TIFF files.

Note: TIFF and TIF can be used interchangeably. TIFF is an acronym for Tagged Image File Format.

How to Open a TIF File

If you just want to view a TIF file without editing it, the photo viewer included in Windows will work perfectly fine. This is called Windows Photo Viewer or the Photos app, depending which version of Windows you have.

On a Mac, the Preview tool handles TIF files just fine.

XnView, InViewer, and Open Freely are some other free TIF openers you can download.

If you want to edit the TIF file, but you don't care that it's in a different image format, then you can just use one of the conversion methods below instead of installing a full-fledged photo editing program that specifically supports the TIF format.

However, if you do want to work with TIFF/TIF files directly, you can use the free photo editing program GIMP.

Other popular photo and graphics tools work with TIF files as well, most notably Adobe Photoshop, but that program is not free.

If you're working with a GeoTIFF Image file, you can open the TIF file with a program like Geosoft Oasis montaj, ESRI ArcGIS Desktop, The MathWorks MATLAB, or GDAL.

How to Convert a TIF File

If you have an image editor or viewer on your computer that supports TIF files, just open the file in that program and then save the TIF file as a different image format.

This is really easy to do and is normally done through the program's File menu, like File > Save as.

There are also some dedicated file converters that can convert TIF files, like these free image converters or these free document converters. Some of these are online TIF converters and others are programs you have to download to your computer before they can be used to convert the TIF file to something else.

CoolUtils.com and Zamzar, two free online TIF converters, can save TIF files as JPG, GIF, PNG, ICO, TGA, and others like PDF and PS.

GeoTIFF Image files can probably be converted in the same way as a regular TIF/TIFF file, but if not, try using one of the programs above that can open the file. There might be a convert or Save as option available somewhere in the menu.

More Information on the TIF/TIFF Format

The TIFF format was developed by a company called Aldus Corporation for desktop publishing purposes. They released version 1 of the standard in 1986.

Adobe now owns the copyright to the format, the most recent version (v6.0) released in 1992.

TIFF became an international standard format in 1993.