PNG vs. TIFF: Which is the Better Image Format?

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Graphic comparing the benefits of TIFF vs PNG files

Two of the most efficient and high-quality image formats currently available are Portable Network Graphics (PNG) & Tag Image File Format (TIFF). Both formats have unique advantages and drawbacks. Thus, deciding between a PNG or TIFF depends on what your specific needs are.

In this article, we’ll define PNGs and TIFFs and compare their similarities and differences. We’ll also talk about what they’re best and most commonly used for. By the end, you will understand when to effectively use a PNG or TIFF file and be able to choose the right option for your digital image needs!

What is PNG?


PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics. It is a lossless image format developed in the mid-1990s to replace the aging GIF format and has since become the go-to choice for high-quality images on the web.

PNG file format is the ideal choice for modern web graphic needs. PNG supports a wide range of color and detail and can be viewed and edited in a variety of programs. Its versatility and quality makes it useful for modern web graphics and related projects.

Find out more about PNG

What is TIFF?


TIFF stands for Tag Image File Format. Aldus Corporation originally developed it in the late 1980s as a universal format for storing all kinds of digital image files. TIFF is considered the highest quality lossless image format available and is ideal for professional quality print graphics and graphic designers.

Find out more about TIFF

What is the difference between PNG and TIFF?


The differences between PNG and TIFF are file size, color depth, and support for transparency, layering, and page number.

PNG files tend to be much smaller and more compatible with programs than TIFF while still offering excellent quality and lossless compression. TIFF format files offer professional-level quality, increased color support, and layer support at the expense of larger size and less compatibility.

Pros and cons of using PNG and TIFF files.


The pros and cons of PNG and TIFF files largely depend on the situation.

  • PNG balances quality, size, and compatibility, making it the ideal format for web-based images. It can also be compressed to reduce file size without sacrificing image quality.

  • However, PNG is unsuitable for professional printing or editing as it does not support color spaces like CMYK, which are more common for printing

  • TIFF is suitable for professional printing and editing due to its high quality and support for more color spaces. It can also be compressed, allowing for flexibility with file size.

  • On the other hand, TIFF is much less compatible with web-based graphics. Its larger size even with compression further prevents it from being used in online media.

In general, PNG is better for web-based graphics, while TIFF is better for professional printing and editing. Ultimately, the decision between PNG or TIFF will depend on what you need to accomplish with your images.


A laptop that is being used to design a website.

What are the benefits of using PNG?


PNG is one of the most popular image formats because it maintains the quality of an image while remaining both compatible with many programs and smaller than other high quality file formats. PNG file formats can also be compressed losslessly without sacrificing image quality. This makes PNG better for web-based graphics where small file sizes are at a premium.

PNG also supports various transparency options that are more compatible with other programs and employs a 24-bit color depth. This allows for a wide range of colors and clarity for image files that are visually effective on the web. Other Image formats like GIF employ a more limited color palette, which hurts the visual effectiveness of digital image files.

When should you use a PNG file?


PNG is best used for web-based projects, since it maintains a high quality for its small file size and great compatibility with pretty much everything. Some examples include graphics, and assets for a website.


Large printer printing colorful art

What are the benefits of using TIFF?


TIFF is an especially useful image format in professional publishing settings because it has high image quality and support for all color spaces, such as RGB, CMYK, and LAB. It is also easy to edit in photo editing programs and can also store layers, making it especially compatible with programs like Photoshop.

While TIFF files are generally larger than other formats, they have both lossless and lossy compression options. This gives you some flexibility to adjust the size of your files depending on what your needs are.

When should you use a TIFF file?


TIFF should be used for professional-quality prints, where high-quality imarchiving, orges with good color accuracy are important. It should also be used in scanning, a editing where layer and multi-page support will be necessary.

Ultimately, PNG vs. TIFF is simply a matter of understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each file type—which we’ve outlined here—when figuring out which one best fits your needs. With this knowledge, you can choose the right file format for your digital image project!



How do you convert a PNG file to a TIFF file or vice versa?

You can easily convert PNG to TIFF, or vice versa, using an online image converter like Zamzar. Upload the PNG or TIFF file, select the format you want to convert, and click “Convert.”

The converted file will then be available for download in your chosen format. It’s that easy!

You can also use an image editing program like Adobe Photoshop to convert PNG files to TIFF files or vice versa manually. Open the PNG file in Photoshop, click “File,” select “Save As,” and choose your desired format. You can adjust any settings and save the file in its new format.

Does PNG support transparency?

Yes, PNG does support transparency. The PNG format supports an alpha channel, which allows for partial transparency to be achieved on images while still maintaining a small file size.

PNG also supports 24-bit color depth, allowing for a wide range of colors and clarity that can is visually effective when on the web.

PNG is effective for web-based graphics where small file sizes are at a premium and transparency options are desired.

Does TIFF support high-resolution images?

Yes, TIFF does support high-resolution images. This file type also preserves edge detail, color saturation, and sharpness.

This makes TIFF ideal for professional photographers who need to store large images without sacrificing quality.

Is PNG better than TIFF?

Yes, PNG is generally better than TIFF for web graphics. PNG balances quality, size, and compatibility, making it the ideal format for web-based images. PNG can be compressed losslessly to reduce file size without sacrificing image quality or transparency options.

Tagged image file format (TIFF) is better suited for professional print graphics, where high-quality images are needed with a small file size. Ultimately, it depends on your needs and preferences as to which one works best.

What software can I use to open a PNG file?

PNG files can be opened and viewed with any image viewing software, such as Windows Photos or Apple’s Preview. PNG files can be opened and edited in popular photo editing software programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Corel Paint Shop Pro.

Additionally, PNG files are compatible with nearly all web browsers and can be used to create web graphics. PNG files can also be opened with a range of text editors, such as Notepad and TextEdit, allowing users to view the file’s code.

Ultimately, PNG files are flexible and compatible with many software programs.

What software can I use to open a TIFF file?

TIFF files can be opened and viewed with any image viewing software, such as Windows Photos or Apple’s Preview. However, TIFF files are more commonly used in professional photography and editing software, so it is best to open them with programs like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.

Some text editors can also open TIFF files, allowing users to view the file’s code. Ultimately, TIFF files are more commonly used with professional photography and editing software, but they can be opened in various programs depending on what needs to be accomplished.

Are PNG files good quality?

PNG files can offer high-quality images with a small file size. PNG uses lossless compression, meaning the image quality is maintained while shrinking the file size. PNG is able to preserve transparency, making it perfect for icons, logos, and web graphics.

While PNG does not support color modes like CMYK and LAB, it can still be great for high-quality images that will be used online.

Ultimately, PNG is a great choice for web-based graphics that must maintain quality while keeping their file size small.



When determining which format is best for your image, consider whether file size and compatibility are important. PNG files are great when quality isn’t an absolute priority, like graphics or web-based images where space is limited.

TIFF files are perfect when quality is the priority, such as in professional archival, editing, or printing work where color accuracy and flexibility in editing is necessary.


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Leon Olagh

Leon Olagh is an experienced photo retoucher and editor. He shares insights and expertise in the field of photography through his blog posts. His work reflects a meticulous approach to the art of creating and refining visual content.

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