PNG File - opening and understanding

Did your computer fail to open a PNG file? We explain what they are used for and recommend software that we know can open or otherwise handle your .PNG files.

What is a PNG file?

A .PNG file is a Portable Network Graphics Image file. PNG files are similar to JPEG and GIF files. However, PNG files use a lossless compression algorithm which, unlike GIF, is patent-free. Lossless compression reduces the image size while retaining the image quality, where lossy image compression removes data from the image to reduce its size.

Is PNG better than GIF?

GIF uses a patented compression algorithm, so if you want to use your image publicly without worry, PNG is the way to go.

Another difference from GIF files, which can only provide fully transparent or fully opaque pixels, is that PNG files provide alpha-channel transparency. This means that a pixel can be assigned any percentage of transparency, which provides a smooth look when the image needs to blend in with the background, e.g., on a web page.

Is PNG better than JPEG?

Normally PNG and JPEG files are used for different purposes. For example, PNG is great for graphics where part of the image needs to be transparent, e.g., for use on web pages or in layouts where, e.g., a product picture is placed over a background image. On the other hand, JPEG is excellent for digital photographs as the compression JPEG uses is often better, resulting in smaller photo files. JPEG uses lossy compression, though, so image quality will be reduced depending on the compression level.

Can PNG files be animated?

While PNG files cannot be animated like GIF files can, the MNG file format (a file format related to PNG) does offer animation capabilities. You may come across an "animated PNG file", which is actually an MNG file given the wrong file extension.

How to open PNG files

You will need a program compatible with the specific file you are trying to open, as different programs may use files with file extension PNG for different purposes. We have identified 8 PNG openers for Windows that is compatible with this specific type of PNG file.

Programs that open these files

Free File ViewerFree File ViewerVerified
IrfanViewIrfanViewVerified
Paint Shop ProPaint Shop ProVerified
Adobe PhotoshopAdobe PhotoshopVerified
Paint.NETPaint.NETVerified
ACDSeeACDSeeVerified
Google ChromeGoogle ChromeVerified
OperaOperaVerified
We have not yet verified any programs for Mac that work with this specific file format. If you know one, please use the 'Suggest a program' link below. Thanks!
We have not yet verified any web services that work with this specific file format. If you know one, please use the 'Suggest a program' link below. Thanks!

Suggest another file format using extension PNG

While we know of one file format using the .PNG file extension, there may be more. It is widespread that different programs use files with the same file extension for very different types of data. Please let us know if you are aware of a different kind of .PNG file.