TIFF files are image files that were initially created in the 1980s by the Aldus Corporation, later acquired by Adobe Inc. in 1994. Most graphic artists and photographers save their photos as this type of file. What does TIFF stand for? How do I open TIFF files? Learn all about the image files and how you can handle them easily in this article.

What Is a TIFF File?

TIFF stands for Tag Image File Format, a popular image file format for saving raster graphics that can be edited or printed. A TIFF file supports both lossy and lossless compression and thus graphics designers prefer this image format for creating high-quality images.

The filename extension of TIFF files: .tif or .tiff.

Operating systems TIFF files can be used on: Windows, Mac, and Linux.

The copyright and specifications of the TIFF file format are now maintained by: Adobe Inc. 

TIFF files featuring lossless compression are oftentimes bigger than the general JPG, PNG, and WEBP images.    

What Is a TIFF File Used for?

TIFF images may not be as well known as JPG, PNG, GIF, and some other images in our daily life, but they are commonly seen in image editing and design as well as the publishing industry. As the meaning of TIFF (Tag Image File Format) implies, a TIFF file allows you to embed tags, layers and transparency, and can store various types of images such as Grayscale, Palette-Color, and RGB full color. Therefore, TIFF files are mostly used for:

Professional Photography

A TIFF file uses flexible tags to specify detailed image data and information, and can be compressed without losing quality. That makes it the top choice for photographing.

Desktop Publishing

TIFF files are losslessly compressed or uncompressed, and they can contain printing information such as layout, spacing, density, etc. All these indicate TIFFs are suitable for use in publishing.

Graphics Design

TIFFs store more data than JPEG images and are flexible in the use of colors and content, resulting in their popularity among graphics designers.


The format TIF and TIFF are actually the same thing and TIF is the short version of TIFF, which are both Tag Image File Format. The filename extensions .tif and .tiff are interchangeable. The reason why the appearances of TIF and TIFF are different is because of the limitations of the file system your operating system uses.

How to Open TIF/TIFF Files

TIFF files are universal and can be easily opened in the built-in image programs on the major OS. When you open the folder where the TIFF images locate, right-click on a TIFF file, choose “Open with” and select the available software to open and view it. According to the OS, you can choose a TIFF/TIF file viewer to open TIFF files from the following list:

Windows Photo Viewer, Paint, Paint 3D (included with Windows)

Preview, Apple Photos (included with Mac)

File Viewer for Android, Google Photos (free app for Android)

Apple Photos (included with iOS)

Google Photos, Google Drive (Web)

In terms of how to open a TIF file on Android and iPhone, just go to Google Play and Apple Store to download and install Google Photos or some other app you like, then launch it and import the TIFF image. 

If needed, there are also many software programs to convert TIFF to PDF format and vice versa 



Charlotte has been in the software industry for 8+ years. She works for AWZWARE now as a passionate writer. She is good at providing simple guides to use various video, office and entertainment software. Charlotte also recommends many other useful tools to make your work and life easier. A food lover too.