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Image conversion software is used to convert images from one file format to another.

Every graphic you see online is an image file, and most everything you see printed on paper or on plastic was derived from an image file. They come in a variety of formats, each designed for a specific use. Image file formats are standardized means of storing digital images. Image file formats may be stored in an uncompressed format, a compressed format, or a vector format, and image files are made up of digital data in one of these format, so that it can be rasterized for display on a computer screen or to a printer. Rasterization converts the image data into a grid of pixels, each with a number of bits designating its color and, in some formats, its transparency.

There are hundreds of image file types, including proprietary types.

Most commonly seen are the raster formats, which include BPG, BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and several others. Vector image formats contain a geometric description that can be rendered smoothly at any size, as opposed to the raster image formats, where the data describes the characteristics of each pixel. There are both 2D and 3D vector formats. Compound formats contain pixel and vector data, and include the PDF formats used by Adobe PDF.

Each graphic file format has its own characteristics, which means that one file format might be better suited for a specific purpose than another. For example, a PNG is a lossless raster format that not only has built-in transparency, but can also display high color depths. However, photo files saved in the PNG format tend to be very large, which means that a JPEG file might be a better choice for web content.

While some image file formats are proprietary, requiring specific software, most standard image file formats may be converted from one to the other. This requires the use of image conversion software, however.

The focus of resources listed in this guide is on image conversion software. While many graphic editors, such as Photoshop and GIMP, include file conversion features, there are also standalone conversion applications, designed primarily for this purpose.



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