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TIFF File Formats: What You Need to Know
TIFF File Formats: What You Need to Know

TIFF File Formats: What You Need to Know

by Alexa Davis
Jul 5, 2024

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) is a widely used file format for digital images. It is the standard format for many graphics and image-editing applications, such as Adobe Photoshop and Apple Preview. Understanding what a TIFF file is and how it works is essential for anyone who wants to get the most out of their digital images. With its wide range of capabilities and impressive color accuracy, the TIFF format is an excellent choice for any project involving digital photos.

What is a TIFF File?

The TIF format was created in 1986 by Aldus Corporation. It was designed for the purposes of desktop publishing and became an international format standard in 1993. This image format copyright is now owned by Adobe.

TIFF Meaning

A TIFF (or TIF) are image files that have the file extension .tif or .tiff. This file type is used for high-quality graphics and raster graphics. With a TIFF file, you get lossless compression. This means that image data isn’t lost when a file is compressed. For photographers and graphic artists, this format allows images to be archived in a high-quality format without taking up a lot of space or compromising the image quality.

Properties of TIFF Files

The format is used for storing both black and white and color images. It is a common practice in the printing field and for digital photography. Here are some of the characteristics of TIFF files:

  • Compression. TIF file supports several types of compression: LZW, JPEG, and ZIP. This enables reduced file sizes while maintaining quality.
  • Color Depth. TIFF supports up to 48-bit color depth, allowing for smoother gradients and more accurate reproduction.
  • Image Editing. TIFF documents can be edited without loss of quality. This renders it an ideal option for uses such as photo retouching.
  • Resolution. TIFF supports high-resolution images up to 4,096 pixels in both width and height. This makes it capable of producing high-quality images.
  • Platform Independent. Since TIFF is a widely used format, it is accessible to read by virtually any operating system or software.

TIFF is an ideal file format for many applications such as printing, scanning, archiving, and digital photography. Boasting an extensive selection of features, it offers users flexibility and reliability when working with digital images.

How to Open a TIFF file?

Now you know what is a TIFF file, let's see how to view it:

  • You can open up TIFF files in Windows Photos and Photo Viewer. Though this lets you open them, you can’t edit those in these programs.
  • On a Mac computer, TIF files can be opened in the Preview app.
  • You can also use a third-party app to view or edit TIFF files. Examples of third-party apps include XnView, Color Strokes, ACDSee, and Graphic Converter.

How to Convert TIFF?

You can convert TIFF documents to other file formats. If you open a TIFF image in the Windows Photo app, you can edit it and then save it as a JPG file. If you want to convert a TIFF file to PDF, you can do this online for free:

  1. Open TIFF to PDF converter and load the image with "+Add File".
  2. Adjust the size and margins. Click "Convert".
  3. Download the resulting file.

Benefits of TIFF format

There are many advantages of TIFF files, which led to its popularity among graphics artists all over the world.

  • One of the biggest advantages of these files is that they can manage all data and images within one file. This includes header tags like definition, size, arrangement of image data, and compression making the file both adaptable and flexible. For example, a TIFF file, therefore, can contain PackBits and JPEG compressed images.
  • Another benefit of TIFF format is its ability to be rendered in all classes, these include RGB full color, palette, or grayscale. So, as well as being an image container for different formats, it is also a single format itself.
  • What’s more, image data can be stored in a lossless format. Standard and common images are typically saved as JPEG files, but this is a lossy format. When you save an image as a TIFF file, you’re essentially archiving it to be able to transfer or edit it further without losing any of the quality. Another lossless format is the BMP, but this is not as flexible as a TIFF.


TIFF and PDF are two of the most popular file formats used to store and share documents. So, which is better for you?

Raster-based format, meaning that it captures an image as a set of dots or pixels.Vector-based, meaning they use formulas to create images from geometric shapes such as lines, circles, and rectangles.
TIFF documents are great for high-quality printing and are regularly employed in photography and publishing.Perfect for displaying text and complex diagrams. As they'll always appear sharp and clear no matter how much those are zoomed in or out.
Incredibly versatile, enabling you to combine numerous images in one file, as well as embed annotations and other data.Great for sharing documents online, as the formatting stays consistent regardless of which device you view it on.

Ultimately, it depends on your needs. If you're looking for a file format that's ideal for printing high-quality photographs or graphics, then TIFF is probably your best option. However, if you want to share documents digitally with a consistent look and feel, then PDF is probably the way to go.


The primary distinction between JPEG and TIFF is file size and image quality.

  • JPEG files are generally smaller in size than TIFF images, allowing for a faster transfer. However, because of the compression used to create a JPEG file, some image quality is lost when saving in this format.
  • TIFF documents, on the other hand, are lossless. This implies that all data will remain intact when stored in such a manner. This makes TIFF a great choice for safeguarding images with intricate details or for editing photos. The downside of TIFF files is they tend to be much larger than JPEGs, making them more difficult to upload and download.

When deciding which format to use for an image, it's important to consider how much detail the image contains. And what the intended purpose of the image is. For images with lots of detail or that will be edited often, using a TIFF format could be the optimal best. However, if you just need a lower-quality version of web use, a JPEG may be preferable due to its smaller size.

How to Edit TIFF?

If you want to edit a TIFF file, you can use a photo editing program like GIMP, Adobe Photoshop, or even Microsoft Paint. This depends on what you would like to edit. Basic editing features are available in the Windows app. You can adjust lighting, size, rotation, crop, flip images, straighten images, and change the image’s aspect ratio.

What is a TIFF File: Bottom Line

A TIFF (or TIF) image preserves not only the original high quality but also all necessary data for further transmission. This format is perfect for graphic designers, however, not always easy to share with colleagues and friends given the large file size. To make the process easier, convert TIFF to PDF and forget about problems with sending.

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