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 acronomy and defines [FILE FORMAT =exttensions] 1

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PostSubject: acronomy and defines [FILE FORMAT =exttensions] 1   Tue Dec 23, 2008 1:39 pm

AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format)

Stands for "Audio Interchange File Format." AIFF is an audio format originally developed by Apple Computer for storing high-quality sampled audio data. AIFF files are similar to Windows WAVE files in both size and quality. Both AIFF and WAVE files can hold CD quality audio and therefore can be burned onto an audio CD. Though the AIFF format was created by Apple, audio programs on both the Mac and PC can typically read the files.

File extensions: .AIF, .AIFF

Batch File

A batch file is a type of script that contains a list of commands. These commands are executed in sequence and can be used to automate processes. For example, some programs may include a batch file that executes a number of commands as the program starts up. A user can also create a custom batch file to automate tedious processes such as copying multiple directories or renaming several files at once.

Batch files are run by the COMMAND.COM program, which is part of DOS and Windows. Therefore, batch files can only be run within the Windows operating system. Macintosh and Unix have other scripting tools, such as AppleScript and Unix shell commands, that can be used for similar tasks. Because batch files contain executable commands, it is important not to open unknown batch files on your hard disk or in e-mail attachments.

File Extensions: .BAT, .CMD

BMP (Bitmap)

Short for "Bitmap." It can be pronounced as "bump," "B-M-P," or simply a "bitmap image." The BMP format is a commonly used raster graphic format for saving image files. It was introduced on the Windows platform, but is now recognized by many programs on both Macs and PCs.

The BMP format stores color data for each pixel in the image without any compression. For example, a 10x10 pixel BMP image will include color data for 100 pixels. This method of storing image information allows for crisp, high-quality graphics, but also produces large file sizes. The JPEG and GIF formats are also bitmaps, but use image compression algorithms that can significantly decrease their file size. For this reason, JPEG and GIF images are used on the Web, while BMP images are often used for printable images.


Most images you see on your computer are composed of bitmaps. A bitmap is a map of dots, or bits (hence the name), that looks like a picture as long you are sitting a reasonable distance away from the screen. Common bitmap filetypes include BMP (the raw bitmap format), JPEG, GIF, PICT, PCX, and TIFF. Because bitmap images are made up of a bunch of dots, if you zoom in on a bitmap, it appears to be very blocky. Vector graphics (created in programs such as Freehand, Illustrator, or CorelDraw) can scale larger without getting blocky.

File extension: .BMP

DLL (Dynamic Link Library)

Stands for "Dynamic Link Library." A DLL (.dll) file contains a library of functions and other information that can be accessed by a Windows program. When a program is launched, links to the necessary .dll files are created. If a static link is created, the .dll files will be in use as long as the program is active. If a dynamic link is created, the .dll files will only be used when needed. Dynamic links help programs use resources, such as memory and hard drive space, more efficiently.

DLL files can also be used by more than one program. In fact, they can even be used by multiple programs at the same time. Some DLLs come with the Windows operating system while others are added when new programs are installed. You typically don't want to open a .dll file directly, since the program that uses it will automatically load it if needed. Though DLL filenames usally end in ".dll," they can also end in .exe, .drv, and .fon, just to make things more confusing.

File extension: .DLL

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)

The letters "GIF" actually stand for "Graphics Interchange Format," but you don't need to remember that. What you should know is that a GIF is a compressed image file format. GIF images use a compression formula originally developed by CompuServe (which is why you see the term "CompuServe GIF" in Photoshop, for those of you that care). GIFs are based on indexed colors, which is a palette of at most 256 colors. This helps greatly reduce their file size. These compressed image files can be quickly transmitted over a network or the Internet, which is why you often see them on Web pages. GIF files are great for small icons and animated images, but they lack the color range to be used for high-quality photos.
File extension: .GIF

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

The term actually stands for "Joint Photographic Experts Group," because that is the name of the committee that developed the format. But you don't have to remember that because even computer nerds will think you're weird if you mention what JPEG stands for. Instead, remember that a JPEG is a compressed image file format. JPEG images are not limited to a certain amount of color, like GIF images are. Therefore, the JPEG format is best for compressing photographic images. So if you see a large, colorful image on the Web, it is most likely a JPEG file.

While JPEG images can contain colorful, high-resolution image data, it is a lossy format, which means some quality is lost when the image is compressed. If the image is compressed too much, the graphics become noticeably "blocky" and some of the detail is lost. Like GIFs, JPEGs are crossplatform, meaning the same file will look the same on both a Mac and PC.

MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3)

Stands for "MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3." MP3 is popular compressed audio file format that helped popularize digital music downloads beginning in the late 1990s. MP3 files are typically about one tenth the size of uncompressed WAVE or AIFF files, but maintain nearly the same CD-quality sound. Because of their small size and good fidelity, MP3 files have become a popular way to store music files on both computers and portable devices like the iPod. Several websites, like and, maintain extensive archives of MP3 files that users can download.

To listen to MP3s on your computer, you'll need an MP3 player like Nullsoft Winamp (for Windows) or Apple iTunes (for Mac and Windows). Most MP3 players also allow you to create MP3 files from CD audio tracks or other from other audio file types. Once you have converted your favorite songs to MP3 files, you can transfer them to a portable music player, like the Apple iPod, Microsoft Zune, or a music-enabled cell phone. You can also burn the MP3 files to a CD, which can be played in MP3-compatible CD players.

File extension: .MP3

MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group)

Stands for "Moving Picture Experts Group." The MPEG organization, which works with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), develops standards for digital audio and video compression. The group constantly works to develop more efficient ways to digitally compress and store audio and video files.

The term MPEG also refers to a type of multimedia file, which is denoted by the file extension ".mpg" or ".mpeg." These files are compressed movies that can contain both audio and video. Though they are compressed, MPEG files maintain most of the original quality of the uncompressed movie. This is why many videos on the Web, such as movie trailers and music videos, are available in the MPEG format.

File extensions: .MPG, .MPE, .MPEG

PDF (Portable Document Format)

Stands for "Portable Document Format." PDF is a multi-platform file format developed by Adobe Systems. A PDF file captures document text, fonts, images, and even formatting of documents from a variety of applications. You can e-mail a PDF document to your friend and it will look the same way on his screen as it looks on yours, even if he has a Mac and you have a PC. Since PDFs contain color-accurate information, they should also print the same way they look on your screen.

To view a PDF file, you need Adobe Reader, a free application program distributed by Adobe Systems. Adobe also makes an Acrobat Plug-in for Web browsers that enables PDF files to be viewed inside a browser window. For more information on PDFs, visit Abobe's PDF Page.

File extension: .PDF

PNG (Portable Network Graphic)

Stands for "Portable Network Graphic." This format was designed as an alternative to the GIF format (which has been plagued by copyright issues). Like GIFs, PNG files are lossless, meaning they don't lose any detail when they are compressed. They support up to 48-bit color or 16-bit grayscale and typically compress about 5% to 25% better than GIF files. However, they do not support animations like GIFs do. A format similar to PNG, called MNG, is currently under development, and will support animations.

File extension: .PNG


PostScript is a page description language (PDL) that describes a page's text and graphical content. It can be used to define the appearance of graphics and text for both screen and print. The language was developed by Adobe in 1984 and has since gone through may revisions and updates.

Before PostScript was introduced, publishing systems relied on proprietary typesetting systems, which often caused incompatibilities between computers and printing systems. In fact, before the days of PostScript, pages that incorporated text, images, and line art had to be manually assembled on a paste-up board and then photographed. The resulting picture was sent to a printing plate, which was used to make copies of the document -- pretty archaic compared to the simple printing options available today.

Adobe PostScript makes it possible to produce high quality page content that can include text, images, and line art in a standard format compatible with multiple devices. For example, PostScript (.PS) files will print the exact same way from different PostScript compatible printers. They can also be opened using Adobe Acrobat and will look the same on Macintosh and Windows platforms. In fact, the evolution of PostScript led to the development of Adobe Acrobat, which creates PDF documents.

File extensions: .PS, .EPS

Raster Graphic
Most images you see on your computer screen are raster graphics. Pictures found on the Web and photos you import from your digital camera are raster graphics. They are made up of grid of pixels, commonly referred to as a bitmap. The larger the image, the more disk space the image file will take up. For example, a 640 x 480 image requires information to be stored for 307,200 pixels, while a 3072 x 2048 image (from a 6.3 Megapixel digital camera) needs to store information for a whopping 6,291,456 pixels.

Since raster graphics need to store so much information, large bitmaps require large file sizes. Fortunately, there are several image compression algorithms that have been developed to help reduce these file sizes. JPEG and GIF are the most common compressed image formats on the Web, but several other types of image compression are available.

Raster graphics can typically be scaled down with no loss of quality, but enlarging a bitmap image causes it to look blocky and "pixelated." For this reason, vector graphics are often used for certain images, such as company logos, which need to be scaled to different sizes.

File extensions: .BMP, .TIF, .GIF, .JPG

RTF (Rich Text Fomat)

Stands for "Rich Text Fomat." This is a file format standardized by Microsoft for creating formatted text files. Unlike a basic text file, an RTF file can include information such as text style, size, and color. The nice thing about the RTF format is that it is a universal format, meaning it can be read by nearly all word processors.

File extension: .RTF

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)

Stands for "Tagged Image File Format." It is graphics file format created in the 1980's to be the standard image format across multiple computer platforms. The TIFF format can handle color depths ranging from 1-bit to 24-bit. Since the original TIFF standard was introduced, people have been making many small improvements to the format, so there are now around 50 variations of the TIFF format. So much for a universal format. Recently, JPEG has become the most popular universal format, because of its small file size and Internet compatibility.

File extensions: .TIF, .TIFF


A torrent is a file sent via the BitTorrent protocol. It can be just about any type of file, such as a movie, song, game, or application. During the transmission, the file is incomplete and therefore is referred to as a torrent. Torrent downloads that have been paused or stopped cannot be opened as regular files, since they do not contain all the necessary data. However, they can often be resumed using a BitTorrent client, as long as the file is available from another server.

Torrents are different from regular downloads in that they are usually downloaded from more than one server at a time. The BitTorrent protocol uses multiple computers to transfer a single file, thereby reducing the bandwidth required by each server. When a torrent download is started, the BitTorrent system locates multiple computers with the file and downloads different parts of the file from each computer. Likewise, when sending a torrent, the server may send the file to multiple computers before it reaches the recipient. The result is a lower average bandwidth usage, which speeds up file transfers.

File Extension: .TORRENT
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