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What does this File do?

Need to know what to do with this file type but can’t find a google result that explains it well? 

Welcome to the Rosetta Stone of file types, translated simply and plainly. 

So many file types, so little time. Let’s dive in. 

This is an photograph, so when you try to make it larger, it will become pixelated and blurry.



Joint Photographic Experts Group

It’s a picture.


Portable Network Graphics

It’s a picture, but better. Also it can have a transparent background so that you can put it on whatever background colour you want, but that’s up to whoever made the picture to decide.


Tag Image File Format

An image that can be edited without losing detail.


Scalable Vector Graphics

This is an image vector file. It means that it is a drawing made up of shapes (called vectors), as opposed to a normal image which is made up of pixels. 

If you try to make a normal, pixel-based image larger, it will get pixelated and look bad. If you make a vector image larger, it will look just as crisp at every size. Great for drawings that you want to look good at every size.


Encapsulated PostScript

This is a smaller, compressed vector file that needs to be opened in Adobe Illustrator or some special programs. It’s used by printers of all kinds, from normal paper printing, to billboards, to car wrapping, to clothing designs, because it is editable and infinitely scalable. 

A good designer will give you designs in this format for printing, but they are big files. Fair warning.


A photo that was captured on a real camera, and hasn’t been processed yet, hence the name RAW. It needs to be run through an editing program such as Lightroom or another equivalent that can turn it into a different image format.


It’s a raw file, but taken on a Canon camera, which made it a little different

This image is actually a vector. It can be made larger or smaller without losing quality, because it was drawn on a computer. It also looks like a file icon for published documents.



Honestly this is the only published document tool you will need until they invent something cooler, I don’t know why I made a whole section for this.

A pdf is a mostly non-editable document. It means that someone has finished making it and doesn’t want anyone else to touch it now, save it as a pdf.

If you’re sending something important to someone, make sure you make it a pdf first. If you’re sending something unimportant to someone, make sure you make it a pdf first. BUT, don’t send someone a pdf if you want them to be able to make changes to it. 

There are two kinds of pdf documents: PDF (Print) and PDF (Interactive). How do you know which one you have been sent? You won’t. You can print both of them, but only one of them allows people to create text inside of it. 

An Interactive PDF can have form sections, so if you have an important document to fill out with details, but only in pre-allocated sections or sometimes wherever they want. But the recipient of an interactive PDF cannot delete the text that was written already, they can only add more. 

Print PDF is so that people can’t do anything to it with a computer. 



It’s for Microsoft Word.


It’s for Microsoft Word, it’s just old.


It means someone went exploring through some old, musty tombs, used their fire torch to light a brazier on the side of a room. The whole room lit up, revealing a case in the centre. Brushing aside the dust and the cobwebs, a warning was engraved on the lid, but they chose to proceed anyway. Using all their might to push the rock slab aside, they unleashed an ancient power upon the world…

Microsoft Publisher.

Publisher is a more freeform version of Word, it just hasn’t really been popular in a long time.




Old powerpoint!


It’s Excel.


It’s old Excel.


Comma Separated Value

This is a useful Excel tool to transfer large amounts of data between systems.

.XML / . XLS / .XLSM / .XLSB / .XLTX / .XTLM / .XLT / .XLAM / .XLA / .XLW / .XLR / .PRN / .SLK / .DIF

Just open all of these in Excel. I don’t know why there are so many excel formats at this point. Maybe ask a software engineer or something.


It’s for Adobe Illustrator, an expensive drawing program.


It’s for Adobe Photoshop, another, marginally less expensive drawing program.


It’s for Adobe InDesign, a document development program that is a million times better than Word and Publisher combined.


Some text that can be opened on most things. Maybe Word or even Notepad.


Some text that a computer can read and turn into websites and other programs. 

I hope this has helped you, or it's been educational or at least it's helped you get to sleep at night.

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