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What is a BMP File Format
What is a BMP File Format

What is a BMP File Format

by Alexa Davis
May 21, 2024

BMP file format is an image format with the file extension .bmp. These are often referred to as bitmaps or bitmap images and are also called Device-Independent Bitmap Graphic files. In this article we will take a closer look at what is a BMP file and how to work with this format.

BMP File Format Meaning

BMP stands for bitmap. It is a common file format that was first created in the 1990s by Microsoft. The idea behind the format was so that images could be viewed on alternative devices rather than just Windows ones without needing a graphics adapter.

BMP image format contains uncompressed data, which makes them ideal for displaying and storing high-quality images. BMP files usually contain up to 24 bits per pixel, allowing for millions of possible colors. These qualities make them suitable for storing colorful digital photographs or artwork with a high level of detail.

However, this means that the sizes of .bmp files are often larger than other file types like GIFs and JPEGs.

What is a BMP File: Advantages of BMP

BMP files are great for icons, screengrabs, and 2D photos. They can store color image data as well as monochrome data in a variety of bit/color depths. Though most bitmap files are uncompressed and large, you can make them smaller with lossless data compression.

Another benefit of BMP file format is that it allows you to store complex, high-quality images. Each BMP file will store every pixel independently and so the quality and accuracy of the image are maintained.

What’s more, BMP format is universal and can be used by all programs.

How to Open BMP?

Now that you know what is a BMP file, let's see how to view it. Opening a BMP file is simple. It depends on your device but provided that you’re familiar with your operating system, you won’t find it difficult.

To open your BMP image format, you should double-click it with your laptop keypad or mouse. Your picture will then be visible in Photos, the default image viewer with Windows. If you open more than one image, switch between them with the right and left arrows.

You can also open your bitmap image using a different program. To do this, you need to right-click the file in the folder and select "Open with".

How to Edit BMP File?

The program you use depends on what you want to edit about the BMP image. Even if you just open the image with the Windows Photo app you can crop, resize, rotate, make lighting adjustments, flip the picture, add filters, straighten, and change its aspect ratio.

There are many programs that can access or utilize BMP extension files, including the following:

  • Microsoft Paint. Paint comes pre-installed on all Windows computers. It is an easy-to-use program for opening, editing and saving BMP pictures.
  • Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop is a professional photo editing software suite capable of opening and retaining BMP images.
  • GIMP. GNU Image Manipulation Program is an open source editing package able to modify and store BMP files.
  • IrfanView. IrfanView is a lightweight image viewer and editor that can open, view, and keep BMP format files.
  • XnView. XnView is an image viewing and management software that allows for opening, converting and preserving bitmap files.

These programs are just a few of the many tools available for opening or referencing BMP files. With so many options available, you're sure to find one that fits your needs!

How to Convert BMP?

If you want to convert a BMP file to another image format, you can do this in a variety of ways. Firstly, you can open up the file in the Windows photo app, then save it as another type. If you want to convert it to a PDF, you can use a free online BMP to PDF converter.


PDFs and BMPs are both digital file formats used for storing documents, images, and other types of files. But they are not the same.

A PDF is a Portable Document Format that is used to store documents. It's a popular format because it's easy to share and view on any device. PDFs are often used for sharing documents such as contracts, resumes, and other important files.

The main difference between PDF and BMP extension is their purpose:

  • PDFs are frequently utilized for retaining documents, whereas BMP format is regularly used for preserving images.
  • They necessitate distinct programs for inspecting and manipulating. While PDFs can be accessed by any PDF viewer program, BMPs can only be opened through specialized software that supports bitmap image files.


When it comes to digital image types, JPEG and BMP formats are two of the most popular. They both have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to know the difference between the two.

Joint Photographic Experts Group.Bitmap Image File.
It is a lossy compression algorithm that reduces file size by discarding some of the data.It is a raster graphics format that uses a grid of pixels to represent an image.
Ideal for web images, as they don't need to be high-resolution. Usually smaller in size, but can become blurry when compressed too much.BMP extension files are larger because they store more information about an image. They are also top-notch and can be employed to make detailed images with crisp edges and no artifacts.

It's vital to remember that JPEGs are better suited for web images while BMP files are the best for print or full-size digital pictures. JPEGs can be used in print, but you may notice a decrease in quality if you try to enlarge them too much. Ultimately, it all depends on your needs and the type of image you're creating.


Both GIF and BMP are image file formats, but they have some key differences. GIF files are smaller in size, allowing them to be used for web graphics, compared to BMP files, which take up more disk space.

A GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is an image file that supports up to 8 bit depth. It uses lossless compression, meaning that the image quality won't diminish when the file is compressed. This makes GIFs great for web art, as they can be downloaded quickly without sacrificing visual quality. However, GIFs only support 256 colors, so complex images with many colors may look distorted or pixelated.

BMP extension files are much larger than GIFs. BMPs better suited for printing high-quality images. In addition, they support up to 24 bits per pixel, so BMPs display more than 16 million colors and provide superior detail compared to GIFs.


What is the file extension for BMP format?

BMP images have a .bmp file extension.

Can BMP files be compressed?

Yes, you can use compression techniques such as RLE (Run-Length Encoding) or algorithms like ZIP to reduce the file size of BMP images.

Can BMP files contain transparent elements?

BMP images support transparency, but only in the form of a single color. This is typically achieved using a specific color index in the palette.

Is the BMP format suitable for printing?

Yes, especially when high-quality images are required, as it preserves all details without compression artifacts.

BMP File Format: Final Thought

BMP, or bitmap images, are commonly used to share and store some high-quality content. However, with such a large file size, they are hard to send over to other people. So it is critical to compress them if you plan to share them with others or post online. With BMP to PDF converter, all the problems are resolved while preserving the quality of the original file.

Overall, proper use of a BMP file can help you get the best results for your project. Understanding the basics of what a BMP extension is and how it works will set you up for success with creating and using this type of image file.

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