What is a PNG file?


How to open and edit PNG files?

What to Know

  • A PNG file refers to a Portable Network Graphics (PNG) file.
  • You can open one using any browser or image program like XnView.
  • FileZigZag and another image converter can convert JPG, SVG, ICO images.

This article will explain what PNG files are and why they are preferred to other formats in certain situations. It also lists which programs can open or convert them to other types of image formats.

What is a PNG file?

A PNG file refers to a Portable Network Graphics (PNG) file. This format is lossless compressed and is often considered to be the GIF replacement format.

However, unlike GIF, PNG files do not support animations. However, the MNG (Multiple Image Network Graphics) format has not gained the same popularity as GIF and PNG files.

Images stored in PNG files can be stored on websites. Some operating systems such as Ubuntu and macOS store screenshots automatically in the PNG file format.

PNGs can also be used when transparent parts of an image are required. This is useful when creating illustrations, websites, photography, and so on. It’s easier to “cut out” a logo that you wish to place over a photo. The transparent pixels will allow it to show through the logo.

How to open a PNG file

Windows’ default photo viewer opens PNG files, but there are many ways to view them.

All web browsers (like Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc.) All web browsers (such as Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc.) automatically view PNG files you open from the internet. This means that you don’t need to download every PNG file. To open PNG files on your computer you can use the web browser by using the CTRL+O keyboard combination.

Drag-and-drop is supported by most browsers. You might be able to drag and drop the PNG file to the browser to open it.

You can also use standalone file openers and graphic tools to open PNG files. These are some of the most popular:

Editing PNG files can be done with the XnView program. This program is also available for Microsoft Windows.

Given the many programs that can open PNG files and the fact that most people have at least two of them installed, it’s possible that the one that opens them by default (i.e. Double-clicking or double-tapping on one of them will not open it.

For detailed instructions on changing the “default” PNG program, please see How To Change File Associations in Windows tutorial.

How to Convert a.PNG File

Most image converters can convert a PNG file into another format, such as JPG or PDF. Our Free Image Conversion Software Programs List includes several PNG converters such as FileZag or Zamzar.

To convert a PNG into SVG, visit Vectorizer.

When to use PNG files

Although PNG files can be a great format, they are not always appropriate for every situation. Sometimes, a PNG file can be too big and make it difficult to email or take up disk space. It can also slow down web pages if used there.

Consider whether the image quality benefits outweigh the loss of space (or slow page loading). A PNG file does not compress the image as other lossy formats like JPEG, so quality isn’t affected as much when the image’s in the PNG format.

JPEG files can be useful for images with low contrast. However, PNGs work better when dealing in sharp contrast such as when lines or text are present in an image as well as large areas that are solid color. Screenshots and illustrations are best saved in PNG format. “Real” photos can be saved as JPEG/JPG.

If you have to edit an image over and over, the PNG format might be a better option than JPEG. The JPEG file is subject to generation loss so editing and saving it again and again can result in lower quality images over time. PNG uses lossless compression so this is not true.

Get more help with PNG files

You can make the background transparent in PNG using automated tools such as Clipping magic, the free Backburner tool or almost any image editing software.

If you use Photoshop, for example, place the image on its own layer and delete the background layer. Next, use any tool (e.g. Lasso, Marquee or Eraser) to remove transparent areas.


  • How can I convert a PNG to PDF?
    To convert PNG files to PDF, right-click on the file and choose Print > Microsoft Printer to PDF Print. Next, you will need to name the file and then choose Save. Open the image on a Mac by opening Preview and then selecting File > Export to PDF .
  • How can I convert a PNG to a JPG file?
    To convert PNG files to JPG on Windows, open the image with Paint and choose > save as. Next, select JPEG. Open the image in Preview on a Mac and choose File Export . Next, select JPEG.
  • How can I create a PNG file
    PNG files can be created in many image-editing programs, such as Photoshop and other tools like Canva Pro. You can also create PNG files online with some editors, such as Pixomatic Online editor or PIXLR.
  • How can I convert a JPG to a PNG file?
    On a Windows computer, you can convert a JPG image to PNG by opening the image in Paint, selecting File > save as and then choosing PNG. Open the file in Preview on a Mac and choose Export . Next, select . Alternatively, you can open the image in Photoshop on a Mac, or a PC and choose File > Export > As. Select PNG as the file format and click Export.




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