How to Open TIFF Files

Written by simone spada
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Developed by digital scanner manufacturers during the advent of desktop publishing in the 1980s and initially used predominately on Macintosh computers, the TIFF image format is now used widely throughout the computer graphics industry. However, because it is not one of the image formats recognised by all web browsers and e-mail applications, it may remain unfamiliar to computer users outside of the graphics field. TIFF files do offer advantages that other formats lack, such as lossless compression and high colour bit depth. In addition, almost all imaging software and most digital cameras can read and write TIFF files.

Skill level:
Easy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Open Windows Explorer and navigate to the directory containing the file.

  2. 2

    Right-click on the file and then select "Properties." In the file properties window that opens, next to the word “Type,” should be the phrase “TIFF Image.” This tells you that Windows recognises the file format.

  3. 3

    Double-click on the TIFF file’s icon in Windows Explorer. The default image viewers on Windows are Windows Photo Gallery and Paint, so it should open in one of these unless you have installed other graphics software.

  1. 1

    Open the Finder and navigate to the directory containing the TIFF file.

  2. 2

    Hold down the "Control" key and click on the file, then select “Get Info.” In the information window that opens, next to the word “Kind,” should be the phrase “TIFF image.” This tells you that OS X recognises the file format.

  3. 3

    Double-click on the TIFF file’s icon in the Finder. The default image viewer on OS X is Preview and it should open in this unless you have installed other graphics software.

  1. 1

    Open the Nautilus file browser and navigate to the directory containing the file.

  2. 2

    Right-click on the file and select "Properties." In the file properties window that opens, next to the word “Type,” should be the phrase “TIFF Image.” This tells you that the operating system recognises the file format.

  3. 3

    Double-click on the TIFF file’s icon in Nautilus. The default image viewer on Ubuntu is Eye of Gnome, and it should open in this unless you have installed other graphics software.

Tips and warnings

  • If the image seems to take a long time to open, the file may be too large for your system to handle easily. TIFF files can be quite large, particularly when storing uncompressed data. In this case, wait for the file to open (it may take a while) and save it in another format that allows for greater data compression, such as JPEG, PNG or GIF.
  • If your operating system does not recognise the file format or recognises it as something else, even though it has a “.tif” extension, then the file is not a TIFF. It may be that the file’s data has been corrupted and rendered unreadable, or it may be a file format that is unknown to the operating system.

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