Movavi Photo Editor

  • Easy retouching and digital makeup application
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  • Customizable captions

Edited by Pat Bitton

November 12, 2019

What Is a BMP File and How Do I Open It?

The BMP file type has become so popular that many of the proprietary pictures that you view are renamed BMP files. This file type can store both monochrome and multi-color image data in either 16-, 32-, or 64-bit color depths. Most of the bitmaps are uncompressed and occupy a large space, but can be compressed without compromising their quality.

It is, therefore, important to learn how to open a BMP file before you can think about editing or converting them to other formats. Opening and viewing such files shouldn't necessarily be a big deal if you know what to do. You need the right BMP viewer and an efficient image converter in case you need to convert them to other formats.

What Is a BMP file?

Did your device fail to open a BMP file? You may not be able to troubleshoot the problem without a proper understanding of the BMP file format and how to open a BMP file. But first, you need to answer the all-important question: what is a BMP file?

Short for Bitmap images, files with the BMP extension are uncompressed raster images comprising of rectangular grids of images. A bitmap image consists of a file header which includes file size, bitmap identifier, height, width, color, and the bitmap data starting point, and bitmap pixels, each featuring a different hue.

How to Open a BMP File

The BMP file, also known as Device-Independent Bitmap Graphic file, is free from patents, hence, many programs provide support for opening, viewing and editing them. Here are useful ways to open BMP files.

Using Programs Bundled into Windows or macOS

You probably have a few bitmap images on your device and have been opening and viewing them without the need of additional software. It is possible because your OS came bundled with software that can open and read BMP files. Microsoft Windows Photos and Apple Photos can open pictures in the BMP file format for Windows and Mac devices, respectively.

Learning how to open BMP files should be no big deal because your computer can open them by default. If the graphics card and the processor, as well the operating system are in good health, this file format should open automatically for your viewing or editing. However, if it doesn't, it will be time to resort to third-party applications.

Third-Party Apps

If for some reason you can't open and view BMP files using the default app provided by your operating system, you can breathe easy because many BMP opening softwares are available. You probably have one or two already on your device, that is, if you have any graphics app from Adobe. Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, ACD Systems Canvas, and CorelDRAW will all open your Bitmap images.

These are premium softwares that may cost you an arm and a leg, so if you are not open to loosening your purse strings, you may consider other less expensive or even free apps that can get the job done as well. You can download and install GIMP, XnView, and IrfanView to help you open files with the .bmp extension. These apps are user-friendly and don't require extensive technical skills.

A simple Google search will pull up hundreds of third-party apps to help you open, view and edit BMP files, but you must exercise caution. The internet is rife with malicious software disguised as utility applications. Be sure to download all your files from reputable sites, and have a reliable up-to-date antivirus program on your computer.

Some safe places to search for BMP software include Microsoft, Apple Store, and the Google Play store. You can find many other safe sites but you need to have a safety net in place. Also, make sure the app you want to download is compatible with your system.

Using Image Converters

Your device may still not be able to open BMP files despite the host of BMP-friendly software installed on it. Or, in some cases, you want to share pictures with your friends whose devices may not be BMP file compatible. These cases require that you convert the BMP image into a format that your device can read. You would require the services of an efficient image converter.

A number of free image converters are available online for downloading and installing on to your device. They can convert your BMP file to common formats such as PDF, JPG, TIF, ICO, as well as PNG. You may even find some that work directly from your browser, hence, no need to install it onto your computer. Such apps include Zamzar and FileZigZag.

Popular image converters include XnConvert, CoolUtils, Adapter, DVDVideoSoft, PixConverter, and SendTo-Convert. This list shouldn't limit your choice, though, so you can try as many apps as possible as you try to determine the best one for your image conversion needs. But you need to be sure the software you are downloading is compatible with your device and your OS.

Still not Opening BMP Files?

So, the BMP software that came bundled with your operating system doesn't let you open and view the BMP files on your device? You decide to download third-party apps, and the problem still persists. Naturally, you want to convert the troublesome file to one of the common compatible formats but the problem is that it can't open on your computer.

Running out of options? Of course, not. You could be handling a corrupted file, so it would be better to scan your storage media for problems. It may also be important to try opening the problematic BMP file from another device, and if it fails, then you know it's the file and not your machine. If you diagnose such a problem, get a fresh copy of the file.

Checking your hardware and software configuration may also solve the problem of some BMP files not opening on your PC. If you are handling a high definition image, your computer may not process it if it's meant for standard definition graphics. Upgrading to a newer edition of the computer, or upgrading the operating system may solve this problem.

Malware attacks on your system may also prevent files from opening on your system. Some malware is known to target files, corrupting or replacing them altogether, so that when you double-click on them, they don't open. To counter such a challenge, always have a reliable antivirus in place, ensuring that it is up to date. Forget about those free antiviruses that claim to safeguard your devices at the click of a button. Make some sacrifices and purchase a premium anti-malware software — the harm you may suffer if you don't would be far greater than the cost of a good antivirus program.

Now that you understand how to handle a BMP file type on your system, it is essential that you answer the question: what is a BMP file? Learning how to open and view raster pictures on your computer will enhance your portfolio, especially if you intend to venture into professional image production. Taking this route may call for a professional but user-friendly image editor to help you produce flawless BMP photos. You can try Movavi Photo Editor, available for both Windows and Mac, as see the results for yourself!

Movavi Photo Editor

The easiest way to turn any snapshot into an eye candy

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