What is a PNG file? (& how to convert using Soda PDF)

6 minute read

In this article, we’ll answer the most popular questions about PNG files (Portable Network Graphics) – including how to open, edit, and convert PNG files. 

So what is a PNG file, anyway? 

PNG (pronounced PING) is a file extension (like .JPG). PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics. PNGs are image files. 

PNG is a high-quality graphics format – generally higher in quality than JPEGs, which are compressed to save space. The PNG format uses lossless compression and is generally considered a replacement to the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF format). 

By the way, GIF can be pronounced either with a hard G, or like “Jiff.” 

What’s the difference between a PNG and a GIF? 

PNG and GIF files are both high-quality, lossless image formats. PNG is a more recent format, but it doesn’t support animations. That’s probably the only reason it hasn’t replaced GIF entirely – yet. 

Who uses PNG? 

PNG files are often used for graphics on websites, and some operating systems like macOS and Ubuntu store screenshots in the PNG format by default. 

The PNG file type is used a lot in graphic design applications. When an image background needs to be transparent, for example, a designer will use the PNG format. PNGs are generally easier to manipulate when creating illustrations and custom graphics. 

How do I open a PNG file? 

You can open PNG files with any browser or image viewer program. 

Generally speaking, most popular web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, etc.) will automatically let you see PNG files that you access on the web without having to download the files and open them in a separate viewer. 

If you want to view a PNG image that’s stored on your computer, you can just drag and drop it into a browser window to view it. 

Some commonly used photo viewer/image editing programs that will open the PNG file format include: 

  1. XnView 
  1. IrfanView 
  1. FastStone Image Viewer 
  1. Google Drive 
  1. Eye of GNOME 
  1. gThumb 

Since some of the above programs are very common, they could be installed on your computer right now without you even realizing it. If that’s the case, they might also be set as the default programs to open PNGs on your computer. 

To change what program opens PNGs (in Windows) on your computer, simply right-click on a PNG file and select the “Open With” item from the menu that pops up. There you can select which program will open PNGs by default when you double click on those types of files. 

How do I edit PNG files? 

Here are a few image editing programs that will let you easily edit PNG files: 

  1. XnView 
  1. MS Paint 
  1. Windows Paint 3D 
  1. GIMP 
  1. Adobe Photoshop 

When should I use the PNG image format? 

Since PNG is a high-quality (also known as lossless) image file format, you’ll want to use these file formats when you’re looking to preserve image quality. 

However, the drawback to a high-quality image file is that it will take up more space. As a result, it might be harder to share over the web, especially as an e-mail attachment. 

Having every image file on a website be of high quality might also slow down the load speed of that site. 

PNGs are best when you’re dealing with high-contrast images that need to retain their sharpness. This is often the case when there are lines or text within the image or large areas of one solid color. 

That’s why PNGs are most often used for illustrated pictures and website graphics. For regular “real-world” photos, JPEGs are usually fine. 

Finally, if you’re dealing with an image that is going to be edited repeatedly, go with the PNG format. Since that format uses lossless compression, the quality won’t degrade whenever you edit and save it repeatedly. 

How do I convert PNG files? 

Sometimes you’ll need to change a PNG file to another format, whether it be a compressed image format like JPEG or a different format like PDF. 

If you need to do this type of conversion try Soda PDF’s free online tools. 

Here’s how to convert a PNG to a JPG with Soda PDF 

  1. Go the Soda PDF site. 
  1. Select the Online Tools menu from the home page. 
  1. Select PNG to JPG
  1. Drag and drop the file you want to convert. It will automatically start the process. 
  1. Download your converted file when ready and view it in your browser. 

Here’s how to convert a PNG to a PDF with Soda PDF 

  1. Go the Soda PDF site. 
  1. Select the Online Tools menu from the home page. 
  1. Select PNG to PDF
  1. Drag and drop the file you want to convert. It will automatically start the process. 
  1. Download your converted file when ready and view it in your browser. 

There are more tools for your PNG file conversion needs on the Soda PDF website, so make sure you check them out! 

What is Soda PDF and why should I use it to convert a PNG file? 

Soda PDF is a PDF management app, but it can also convert images to different formats (like a PNG file into a JPG and vice versa). 

You can use Soda PDF in 3 different ways: 

  1. Soda PDF FREE* web-based tools – works on all platforms (Windows, Mac, etc.) 
  1. Soda PDF Online (full suite) – ideal for Mac users 
  1. Soda PDF Desktop (full suite) – Windows only 

What’s the difference between all these Soda PDF versions? 

Soda PDF website-based tools are designed to help people search for quick solutions. They don’t require any sign-up. These website-based tools are limited to processing one file at a time and *may be subject to daily, hourly, or usage limitations. 

If you’re looking to batch convert your files (i.e. process more than one PNG file at the same time), use the full Soda PDF software solution, via Desktop or Online. 

These versions require account registration, but also feature a 7-day free trial whenever you create a new Soda PDF account. 

Is Soda PDF really free if I want to convert a PNG image into another file format? 

To clarify, only the website-based tools are, and they can do more than change images into a different file type. 

Remember that you’ll only be working with a single file at a time when you use these tools on the Soda PDF website. 

That’s why you should use the Soda PDF online or desktop full suite versions if you need to process multiple image files at the same time. 

Are there any other limitations to Soda PDF’s web-based tools? 

With the free solutions on the Soda PDF website, you can only work with a single image file at a time, but there’s also a limit to the size of image file you can work with. Note that there’s also a daily limit for using them. 

These tools are designed for people who just need a quick, easy way to manage their document or image, such as doing a quick image or document conversion task. 

If you’re looking for more power and functionality, you can always check out Soda PDF’s full online version if you’re on a Mac or PC or download and install the Soda PDF desktop app if you’re using Windows. 

Is Soda PDF safe to use to convert a PNG file? 

Yes. Soda PDF’s website and file type conversion tools are used by millions of people every month, and they are 100% secure. 

When you use any Soda PDF tools, you can work without worrying about the security of your information. 

We use SSL encryption to ensure that your data are not compromised, and remove all files after processing, including GIF, PNG and JPEG images. 

If you want to work offline to convert your images, you can always download the Soda PDF desktop version for Windows. It allows you to do all your work offline, from converting images to editing, merging and compressing PDFs and more. 

Happy PNG-ing! 

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