What Is a CR2 File?

Edited by Nataly Bogorad

March 30, 2021

If you have used a Canon camera before or planning to use one soon, once you download your photos from the camera to the computer, you will likely see an extension of .cr2 files. CR2 is a popular extension from the Canon camera that offers a lot of benefits.

Just what is a CR2 file, and how can it be opened? This guide explains what a CR2 file is, how to open a CR2 file, and how it differs from other extensions such as JPG.

A Canon CR2 file is a RAW photography file format created by Canon digital camera. CR2 is short for Canon Raw 2 (2nd edition). It stores lossless details from the camera without any form of processing, data loss, or loss of image quality. These pictures have to be opened with a Canon CR2 viewer and converted into easier-to-manage file formats such as PNG and JPEG.

CR2 files are generally uncompressed, high quality, and large. They are larger than JPEG and contain metadata such as lens info, white balance, and bracketing information. The lossless nature of CR2 makes it suitable for keeping an image's originality and can record up to 14 bits of RGB, unlike formats like JPEG that only records 8 bits of RGB.

Canon has been using the CR2 file format since their 1D Mark II, 350D, and 20D camera models. For that reason, this file of type is one of the popular and commonly RAW image formats available.

Converting and opening a CR2 file can be achieved in various ways, and Movavi Video Converter offers an easier way to do that. With this tool, you can convert any CR2 file to any format smoothly, even if you have no prior experience with CR2 image converters. Download and install it today, and forget about the worries of converting CR2 image files.

How to Open a .cr2 File

As aforementioned, opening the CR2 image format can be achieved in a lot of ways. But before you even think of downloading any available program that can open these files, try if your operating system can open these files. Some Windows versions will allow you to achieve that if only Canon Raw Codec Software or Microsoft Camera Codec Pack is installed. You can do that by double-clicking on the file and seeing if that is possible. If it does, you are all set. If not, then consider downloading a program that can do that properly.

Using a CR2 Viewer

The first thing that comes to mind is getting a CR2 viewer. Many free CR2 viewers can open the CR2 file natively. Here are a few programs to view CR2 files:

No prior conversion is required to use any of the above CR2 viewers to open CR2 files. These are just a few of the CR2 readers you can use — look around, and you can find some other options.

Convert CR2 to a Different Format

If you want to view .cr2 files on any device, convert the photos to another format. Converting a CR2 file is a breeze with a suitable file converter, and there is arguably no better tool for this job than Movavi Video Converter. This program is easy to use, making it ideal for you even if you have not used it before or have no prior experience with CR2 converters.

And unlike most CR2 converters that often lead to a significant loss in picture quality, Movavi Video Converter guarantees the best outcome for each conversion. Besides, it can convert a batch of CR2 files to JPG at lightning speed.

Besides its unique conversion ability, Movavi Video Converter comes with extra features to improve the output. For example, with the editing tool, you can enhance your pictures' quality by changing their various aspects. The compression feature makes it possible to shrink the storage requirements for each batch conversion.

To use Movavi Video Converter, download a version compatible with your operating system and follow these steps to convert CR2 files to any desirable format.

How to open CR2 files with Movavi Video Converter and change the file format?

1. Once the download is complete, install Movavi Video Converter by following the on-screen instructions.

2. Launch it and add the RAW file you wish to change. You can add multiple pictures at the same time for batch conversion.

3. Select the image format. You can do that by opening the Images tab and choosing the desired format. If you want to change your image's resolution, hit the Cogwheel button to customize the selected preset. A new window will open, set the frame to Custom and adjust the width and height. Once done, hit OK. If you don't make any changes to the original resolution, the image will be saved as it is. You can also crop your picture if you wish.

4. Specify where you want the output to be saved and click Convert. Wait for the process to complete. Movavi Video Converter is super-fast. You won't wait for long.

5. After the conversion is complete, the folder containing your files will open automatically.

Still Can't Open the File?

Your CR2 file type can fail to open even when you have the right CR2 image viewer. If that is happening, there is a high possibility you are misreading the CR2 file extensions and importing a different file. For example, you could be mistaking RC2 or CRX for CR2 extension as they look almost alike.

So, if you find your CR2 file isn't opening, take a closer look at its extension. You may find you are trying to open a different file with an almost similar extension to CR2. Feel free to expand your knowledge by taking time to find out what those other file extensions mean and which programs can open them.

Nataly Bogorad

Nataly Bogorad is a seasoned content creator and web text editor with 7 years of experience in commercial writing and website UX. In 2012, she graduated from Universität Kassel with a bachelor of arts degree in English and American studies and art criticism. At the same time, Nataly had worked as a project assistant for Regionalmanagement Nordhessen GmbH where she wrote and managed the content of the company website. An advanced speaker of English and German, she specializes in writing SEO-optimized and user-friendly content.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between CR2 vs. JPG?

The main difference between CR2 vs. JPEG files is that CR2 files are much larger than JPG. Try shoot in RAW, then switch to JPG, and you will see which pictures consume more storage. RAW files also contain metadata and store lossless details, making them ideal for preserving the image's originality.

RAW images also aren't simply manipulated as JPEG, and as such, they can be used as proof of your photograph's ownership and authenticity. Additionally, a RAW image has a broader range of dynamic range and color gamut than a JPEG image. As such, in the case of shadow and highlight recovery, they offer a much better recovery option than the counterpart JPEG. And since no sharpening is done on RAW images, they are a preferred choice for sharpening algorithms compared to JPEG.

How to view CR2 on Windows 7?

To open CR2 files on Windows 7, download and install a built-up program for Windows 7, such as IrfanView. Import your file or drag and drop it into the program. Your file will be displayed, and you will be able to see its content. Before downloading any application, confirm whether Windows will open your RAW file. If either Canon Raw Codec Software or Microsoft Camera Codec Pack is installed, it may open your file.

How to view CR2 on Mac?

If you are not new to how to open CR2 files on Windows, you won't have any challenge learning how to view CR2 files on Mac. The only thing you have to do is to download and install a CR2 viewer Mac version.

The only time you may face some challenges is when the application you intend to use has no Mac version. Here are some Mac CR2 readers you can use to open CR2 files: Apple Photos, RawTherapee, FastRawViewer, Darktable.

Can I convert CR2 TO JPG with Photoshop®?

Yes, it is possible, and here is how to do that. Navigate to Edit → Scripts → Image Processor. In the 1st panel, hit on Select Folder to move to where you have saved RAW images. Navigate to the 2nd panel and select where you wish to save the converted files. Ensure to select Save as JPG, you can resize your image and then hit Run. Photoshop® will do the rest. Once the conversion is complete, locate the image and open it.

How to edit CR2 files?

There are numerous CR2 editors out there you can count on to edit the CR2 file. Some are free, while others require you to purchase. Here is a short list of CR2 editors we recommend using: