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Meet the 6 Types of File Formats & Discover When to Use Each

Types of Files and How to Use each

In IT or computer studies, a file format is defined by how the data within is stored or organized. Certain file formats have various indications to ease the file search, for example, the file name extension or suffix. For simpler identification, the extension normally has at least four letters separated from the name by a period.

There are different types of files and App programs to help users access the data within them. A good file should have an appropriate name extension to give a clue of its default format. Sometimes, the user is asked to specify the program to use when opening or working with the file. The world depends on a standard resource to help in the search of file extensions. With many programs to assist in file processing, there also exist different types of files.

The most common file formats you'll meet in an office include:

  • Word documents (.doc) 
  • Web text pages (.htm or .html) 
  • Web page images (.gif and .jpg) 
  • Adobe Postcript files (.ps) 
  • Adobe Acrobat files (.pdf) 
  • Executable programs (.exe) 
  • Multimedia files (.mp3 and others)

All these file types can support one or more content forms, for example, texts, images, and videos.

The Importance of Different Types of Files

Well-organized work is a priority for any business owner or user, and this can only be done perfectly by switching between computer files. For instance, it can be tiresome using PDF docs for all office duties; these file formats are better left for document management and not all tasks. Shifting to a format that allows you to work faster saves a lot of time and helps you avoid mistakes that you would otherwise make trying to struggle with a PDF document.

Here are some of the reasons computer files are important to IT experts and freelancers:

1. Easy retrieval of documents. With the help of different types of files, you can always find what you need with ease.

2. Computer files enable you to identify where to save your documents and access it easily instead of cluttering them on your desktop.

3. File format enables easy access of documents – you can even direct someone else to get you the files.

4. Easy update of back-ups. It can also allow you to switch computers without worries of losing your documents.

5. Computer files promote tidiness when organized properly, thus creating a good impression of your workplace. Below is a list of different types of files you'll mingle with when browsing online websites:

6 File formatsyou’llmeet in Your Computer

File formats vary largely so one must learn all the facts behind each type to realize the best use cases. The following is a description of each file, its pros and cons, and best uses.

1.Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG).

JPEG is the most used format by digital cameras and images globally. It is the most common file format living on the web. Joint Photographic Experts Group offers advanced compression keeping only what is visible to the viewer. It achieves this by getting rid of what cannot be perceived by the human eyes.

Advantages of JPEG JPEG is one of the most popular file formats in the world because of the following:

  • Good quality images for digital users. 
  • JPEG is lightweight. Its manageable size allows for quick loading to multiple platforms without worrying about size limitations. 
  • JPEG viewing can be done on any device without downloading any special image viewer. But JPEG users must remember saving a file as JPEG leads to continuous image compression causing a gradual loss of quality. Disadvantages of JPEG 
  • When a file is saved as JPEG severally, the images loses it quality That being said, photo portfolios, web designs, and social networks remain the best places to use JPEG.

2.Portable Networks and Graphics (PNG).

These types of files rely on lossless compression, meaning it produces high-quality images in their original shapes and colors. PNG files offer transparent backgrounds meaning it’s the best format if you want your image to have barely anything on the background. This makes PNG very important because not everyone wants images with objects, products, or logos on their backgrounds. PNG files are not lightweight; hence it is advisable NOT to store multiple or huge files as this would eat up much space. Uploading several PNG files can also be time-consuming.

Advantages of PNG

  • Supporting of a bare background 
  • Provides high-quality files. 


  • The files are heavyweight and can consume much space and time Some of PNG's best uses include social networks (when updating profile pictures and cover photos). It is also the perfect fit for websites and logos.
  • 3.Portable Document Format (PDF).

    PDF is a file format commonly used for online documents and printing work. PDF was created by an adobe reader to ease file display in the same format irrespective of the device used to view them. Research has proven that these files are very reliable and can share large documents without the danger of losing any data. PDFs preserves your original design by ensuring the images or texts are not tampered with. The files also have multiple and different elements like audio files, vector images, photos, and interactive versions like forms and buttons. With PDFs, you can create a file with different types of software. Nevertheless, to view a PDF file, you must install a PDF reader in your electronic device.


    • Keeps files safe and preserves originality no matter the device used for display. 


  • You must have a PDF reader for you to view the files. 
  • Can be difficult to edit The Portable Document Format works best for printing services and online form documents.
  • 4.Graphics Interchange Format (GIF).

    GIF is one of the most popular file type for internet users. It stands out as it uses animation, which creates more fun and makes it more interesting. This type of file exists in bitmap images whereby the graphics are made from several pixels like the PNG and JPEG. GIF file is based on a special form of lossless compression dabbed Lempel-Ziv-Welch. It is convenient for the storage of graphics with few colors like shapes, logos, and simple diagrams. A good example is a business icon having less than three colors. GIF file supports transparent background, too, just like PNG.


    • Offers basic animation and transparency.


    • Poor display of gradient colors. These types of files are suitable for short animated images on channels like Twitter and Facebook.

    5.The Scalable Vector Graphics.

    It is also known as the SVG and was purposely meant to help save and view vectors. First, let's understand vectors— these are online illustrations based on geometric shapes. Display art vectors are created using vector software. It is recommendable to save in SVG when creating business logos, illustrations, and icons. Moreover, when working with your designer on visual assets, you can ask them to send such files the SVG version.


    • They have a good and professional presentation. 
    • They provide the best quality images even after resizing. 
    • Images can be viewed on all web browsers. 
    • Suitable file format for printing purposes.


    • Social media do not support it. It is perfect for business logos, diagram illustrations, and web designs.

    6.Moving Picture Experts Group.

    This file type is also known as the MP4, and its format is a multimedia container suitable for most internet videos. MP4 files contain a variety of content, namely: audio, subtitles, and videos. It has a compressing format that makes its output very lightweight and desirable since it can be easily uploaded. It is a media channel available to all media players across networks. MP4, therefore, is the best platform to create or save videos to your social media accounts and website.


    • It can be used on all media platforms. 
    • Provides lightweight files. 
    • It allows users to stream online.

    Suitable for your website and social media videos like Facebook and YouTube.


    Having known the different types of files in your computer plus their merits and demerits, you can now choose a suitable format at any given time. Using what works best for you, your situation is an excellent way to streamline processes and save time.

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