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What are PNG files and how to open them

Are you having problems opening a PNG file or are you simply curious about its contents? We're here to explain the properties of these files and provide you with software that can open or 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

We have identified ten PNG openers that are compatible with this specific type of PNG file.

Programs that open Portable Network Graphics Image files

Last updated: December 28, 2023

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