When working with a graphic designer, you may start noticing all sorts of new file types. Some are already familiar to you: PDF, JPG, and PNG. But others, not so much. You receive them attached to an email. There’s no preview of the file in your email software. So you save it and try to open it but they don’t open for you. How frustrating! Worry not -you probably don’t need to do anything with that file but save it for future use. Here’s what you need to know about them.

Graphic designers work in Adobe Creative Cloud, and many of those files you’re unfamiliar with are native art files. Most of the time, you’ll never need to open them; generally, you don’t need them. But if you’re a small business and receive them from your graphic designer, save them! Later on, and it will happen, you’ll need them for printing, t-shirts, website design, or other marketing materials.


Let’s start at the top.

  • The blank image icon is missing information. Most likely, your designer is using a Macintosh, and the file is missing an extension (.PNG usually).
  • AI – Native Adobe Illustrator document with scalable vector graphics.
  • EPS – Encapsulated Postscript This file is vector art typically and is high resolution. It is an ideal, preferred format for printing, embroidery, screen printing, and vinyl.
  • PSD – Native Photoshop Document A layered native Photoshop file, saved for future editing.
  • JPG – Joint Photographic Experts Group Typically used for web to speed load time, it’s a tightly compressed and lower quality image file. Originally created by photographers to share images.
  • TIF – Tagged Image File Like a JPG, but high resolution and this image file type is commonly used for printing.
  • PNG – Portable Network Graphic Perfect file type for images with transparent backgrounds, higher quality than JPG but lower than TIF.
  • INDD – Native InDesign Document If you have a multipage project, like a book, for example, InDesign is the software likely used to create it.
  • PDF – Portable Document Format High-resolution file from Adobe Acrobat used for printing, forms, and documents.
  • GIF – Graphics Interchange Format (pronounced JIF – yes, I will die on this hill LOL) Multiple uses like animated images (Animated GIF) for web and static graphics, sometimes with transparent backgrounds. Very low-quality graphic with a limited color palette meant to speed load time.