What Is a JFIF File?

What is a JFIF?

What Is a JFIF File?

With hundreds of file types and formats, it can be a challenge to understand what they do and when we use them. But, some file types and formats are easy to remember because we use them often. For example, almost everyone knows that a .DOC file refers to a Word document. Word documents are widely used and have kept up with advances in technology. When some file formats are no longer used because technology has changed or improved, they can become almost obsolete. Either they need updating, or we no longer need them because other file extensions work better. That’s where JFIF files land. What is a JFIF file? This article will explore everything JFIF files, including when we use them, where we may see one, and which programs they’re compatible with. 

JFIF Explained

JFIF is an acronym that stands for JPEG File Exchange Format. A JPEG, also sometimes a JPG, is an acronym for Joint Photographic Experts Group. These file formats are also what’s known as bitmap graphics. JFIF uses the same compression as the JPEG, but it displays supplementary and additional specifications. For example, JFIFs contain the image’s resolution, aspect ratio, and color model. They are also considered to be the format that preceded JPEGs, as well as a variation of JPEG or JPG files. 

Like JPEG, JFIF files display photos on a computer. In the early days of digital cameras, you would see JFIF files more often. You may also encounter JFIFs when downloading images from the internet. These days, JPEG and JPG files are much more common than JFIF due to advances in technology and the JPEG file format.

Compact digital camera Black in hand with open lens
When digital cameras first became prevalent, JFIFs were a common file format.

©Pesh Siri/Shutterstock.com

Is JFIF Obsolete?

So while you may still come across a JFIF file, you’re far more likely to see JPEG or JPG files. JFIFs were useful when they were first created in the 1990s, but with so many advancements in other types of image display files, the JFIF is a victim of technology improvements and is no longer considered to be relevant. 

Benefits of JFIF

Refined Compatibility

In general, JFIF files are more likely to appear as images and not just code on most machines. They were typically more compatible than their successors, JPEGs, so they remained a viable format even after JPEGs were used. Because these image files are consistently compatible more often than other image files, if you need to move image files between machines and devices, using a JFIF will actually help ensure they are displayed as intended.

Standardized Structure

JFIF files have a standardized structure. Standardized structures are frameworks to which every file and device within an industry will adhere. Another name for this is compliance. Compliance guarantees that these standard guidelines ensure all intended processes perform as they are intended.

Because these files are standardized, it allows a wide variety of programs to open and show the image in the file. Also, the consistent structure ensures you will encounter fewer errors when sharing files between different devices. 

Supplemental Information

JFIFs have additional information in their file code that JPEGs left unspecified. Examples of this supplemental information include the resolution, color model, and aspect ratio. Also, some devices and applications need this information to display an image as intended. 

JFIF Compatibility 

JFIF files are compatible with many programs across both Mac and Windows. However, sometimes, they may not display as intended because they are an older format. Here are some examples of compatibility within computers.


  • Most picture viewers
  • Most web browsers
  • Apple Preview
  • Most files included with the Mac operating system
What is a JFIF file?
You can open JFIF files in most photo programs and in Apple Preview.

©Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock.com


  • Most picture viewers
  • Most web browsers
  • Microsoft Photos
  • Microsoft Windows Photo Viewer
  • Microsoft Paint
  • Most files included with the Windows operating system

Most programs will open a JFIF file, but it may still be difficult to open them on some devices. You may be able to “trick” your computer into opening these files if you rename them as JPEG or JPG. Simply change the file’s last three or four letters.

Sometimes the files will simply display code and won’t display an image. However, you can convert your JFIF files to JPEG, PNG, or bitmap, which are all more widely used and accessible. Here’s how to convert to a JPEG or PNG before sending your file to anyone else. 

How to Convert JFIF Files

You can convert a JFIF file in Windows by opening the file with the Paint or Photos programs. With the image open, select “File,” then “Save as.” Select JPEG from the list of file types, choose a location to save the file, then click “Save.

On a Mac, open the JFIF image in Preview. Go to “File” in the menu, hold your Option key, and then choose “Save As.” Select JPEG from the drop-down menu, then click “Save.”

You can also convert the files using a file converter. A file converter will change the format, plus you can also define the size, quality, and resolution. Some file converters you can try are CloudConvert and FreeConvert.

JFIF files

While JFIF files are typically considered obsolete, you may still find them from time to time. You can continue to use them just fine, as most programs will display the image in the file. To be sure, you can reference our list of compatibility with Mac and Windows programs. If you want to convert your file to something more commonly used, you can try using a file converter. Remember that just changing the file name will not change the file type. 

What Is a JFIF File? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is JFIF used for?

A JFIF file will contain information such as resolution, aspect, and color using a JPEG extension.

Can I rename JFIF to JPG?

You can rename a JFIF to a JPG. However, to convert the file, you will need to do more than rename it. You should use a file converter.

Is JFIF obsolete?

For the most part, yes, JFIFs are obsolete. They had their heyday back when digital cameras were popular, and JPEG files didn’t contain all the information needed to display some images.

Can a JFIF file be malicious?

Sadly, most files can be malicious. Never download any file sent from someone you don’t know, or that you weren’t expecting.

Why is my JPEG saving as a JFIF?

Windows 10 may still save some files as a JFIF. If this happens, you can convert the file to a JPEG/JPG.

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