Tagged Image File Format

What Does Tagged Image File Format Mean?

Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) is a standard file format that is largely used in the publishing and printing industry. The extensible feature of this format allows storage of multiple bitmap images having different pixel depths, which makes it advantageous for image storage needs. Since it introduces no compression artifacts, the file format is preferred over others for archiving intermediate files.


Techopedia Explains Tagged Image File Format

Although TIFF does not use compression much compared to other image file formats, it supports different types of data compression. In the case of photographic images, TIFF makes use of the Lempel-Ziv-Welch lossless compression method. TIFF files can be either compressed or uncompressed but are significantly larger than JPEGs and hence consume more space. However, this format has a few advantages over the JPEG format, such as the ability to store multiple layered images under a single TIFF file and to use a bit depth of 8 bits per channel or 16 bits per channel. Again, free exchange is possible between computer platforms and applications that use TIFF.

A TIFF file uses the file extension ".tif" or ".tiff". TIFF is also known for its flexibility and has more features and capabilities than other image file formats. Often, these add to the complication to learn and understand its features. A TIFF file is organized into an image file header, an image file directory and a bitmap data, with the previous two being considered mandatory.

TIFF is largely used in imaging and 3D applications, medical imaging and desktop publishing. Most image editing software or applications are capable of working with TIFF files.

TIFF, however, has a few drawbacks. One of them is the lack of mechanism to specify the multi-layer relationships between different TIFF pages. Also, in some ways, it lacks standard support for advanced imaging capabilities. Another major drawback lies in the size limitation. As the format makes use of 32-bit offsets, the file size is limited to 4 gigabytes.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.