You will find dozens of different file formats on your computer, but for images, you may not know how to tell the difference. In order to know how an image is used, you need to understand what type of file it is. This month, we’ll go through some of the different types of images and what people use them for. 

The way images work isn’t really something that most people really understand. They can be split into two major categories: vector images and raster images. A vector image can be stretched, resized, or altered without too much sacrifice to image quality. Raster images on the other hand are constructed out of pixels, which have static properties. These images are not easily resized without major degradation to the image. 

Let’s go through some of the most common image extensions you probably have on your PC or smartphone.


Portable Network Graphics are low resolution images that are typically used in web graphics. They have a transparent background and can be edited and resized without losing a lot of image quality. You can’t enlarge them very well, but you can reduce their size.


The Joint Photographic Experts Group image, or JPEG (JPG), in contrast with the PNG, tends to show substantial degradation when a user alters the file size. This is the most common format for images on the web and most digital cameras save photos as JPGs. 


The GIF, which you know about if you use social media or instant messaging, is one of the most versatile of the image formats. Short for Graphic Interchange Format (GIF), users like GIFs because they are often seen as the most used animated images. The GIF is made up of only 256 colors, so their image quality is always pretty low, but since they can take short clips and not static images at a low resolution and in a relatively low file size, they are great for sharing on the web. 

Users should consider the resolution of the images that they use/save to ensure that they fit within the application that they are trying to use them in. Lower resolution images are much better for personal messaging, but if you are looking to print out an image, the higher the resolution the better. 

Images are a big part of how we express ourselves, especially online. If you would like to learn more about the technology that you use every day, keep your eyes peeled for our monthly newsletter.