What Is a PNG File and What is it Used for?

Deyan Georgiev
Deyan Georgiev

Updated · Jan 27, 2023


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Have you ever received an email that contains an attached PNG file? Or maybe you’ve seen the PNG format when saving a project on your computer or device? Whatever the reason for asking what a PNG file is, this simple guide will reveal all.

What Is a PNG File?

A PNG (Portable Network Graphic) is an image file format that contains a bitmap and uses lossless compression - similar to a .gif file, but without the animation. Its 24-bit RGB and 32-bit RGBA indexing make it a popular choice for web graphics and digital images.

PNG pictures are versatile, and you can open, save, and edit them on most operating systems. In fact, macOS computers save screenshots as PNG images by default, while photo applications on Windows devices will open as PNG files. 

You can use this image file type with browsers, photo editing software like Photoshop, and various other applications. The .png file can additionally be uploaded to your website builder or attached to emails like other image files.

PNGs are a type of raster image file. While not as common as JPG images, the PNG file format is recognizable by most computer users. It is an excellent choice for small images that require original quality and don’t impede website loading times. PNG images can be viewed, edited, saved, and shared like any other image file type.  

Now that you can answer the questions, what is a PNG file and what is a PNG file used for, let's get more technical.

How to Open a PNG File?

You can open PNG photos in any popular web browser, including Firefox or Chrome. As such, you can view these images without having to save them to your hard drive or an external storage solution.

If using Windows, you can open a PNG photo in your preferred web browser with the simple key-strokes - Ctrl + O.  

To open a PNG in Photoshop, Google Drive, or other applications, try this: File -> Open -> Select your file -> Enter. Keyboard shortcuts may also be helpful, including the “+” sign when working in Google Drive.  

PNG file opening is far from a hassle and similar to many others.

How to Convert a PNG File?

A PNG file is convertible to meet users’ needs. For example, you may want to make the file smaller and modify it into a JPG. No problem, as conversion to this file format is possible and, better yet, simple to accomplish. Most operating systems and their related image software can make these file type changes, including Photoshop and Corel Draw. Intuitively go to File -> Save As -> Choose new file type from a dropdown menu.  

Done and done!

You can also export PNG photos as other file types on Paint, Apple Preview, and a range of other photo viewer packages.

Wrap Up

If you’ve been looking to learn “what is a PNG file?” or “what is a png file used for?” you should now be more enlightened. But in case you missed something, here’s a recap.

PNG is a bitmap lossless compression raster image file suitable for online use. It can be accessed and edited across all operating systems and is compatible with many image-related apps. Whether you’re a website owner or general consumer, PNG will feature in your daily computing activities. 


What are PNG files used for?

You primarily use Portable Network Graphics files for digital artworks like logos, illustrations, and icons. Their compression and transparent layers attributes make them a practical and versatile solution. Additionally, photos can be saved as PNG images too.

Is a PNG file a picture?

Yes. The PNG file format is specifically for saving images. They can include transparent layers, which is handy for adding logos or other images over the top of a photo or background element. Only static images will work.

What is the difference between a PNG and a JPG?

Both .png file photos and JPG files are raster image types. But when considering PNG vs. JPG, PNG photos are of a higher quality due to the poor compression of JPG files.

Is a PNG file the same as a PDF?

No. PNG is a bitmap format, while PDF is a richer format that includes vector elements, such as text. They both have pros and cons for helping you decide which to use. When necessary, PNG images are convertible to PDF.


Deyan Georgiev

Deyan Georgiev

Deyan has been fascinated by technology his whole life. From the first Tetris game all the way to Falcon Heavy. Working for TechJury is like a dream come true, combining both his passions – writing and technology. In his free time (which is pretty scarce, thanks to his three kids), Deyan enjoys traveling and exploring new places. Always with a few chargers and a couple of gadgets in the backpack. He makes mean dizzying Island Paradise cocktails too.

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