What Is an ABR File?

How to use, preview, and convert ABR files

What to Know

  • An ABR file is a Photoshop Brush file.
  • Open one with Photoshop, or preview the brush with abrViewer.
  • Convert to PNG with abrMate.

This article explains what ABR files are, including how to open one on your computer and how to convert one PNG or JPG to preview the brush as a regular image.

What Is an ABR File?

A file with the ABR file extension is a Photoshop Brush file that stores information about the shape and texture of one or more brushes. They're used through Photoshop's Brush tool, and are stored, by default, in the program's installation folder under ...\Presets\Brushes\.

ABR files used by Photoshop

How to Open an ABR File

Use the Brush tool to install brushes in Photoshop:

  1. Select the Brush tool from the Tools menu. Using the B key is another way to focus on it.

  2. Select the current brush type from the menu at the top of the program.

  3. Use the small menu button to select Import Brushes.

    Import Brushes option in Photoshop
  4. Find the ABR file you want to use, and then select Load.

If that method doesn't work, another way you can try importing custom brushes into Photoshop (in some versions of the program) is through Edit > Presets > Preset Manager. Choose Brushes as the preset type and then select Load to find the ABR file.

Photopea is an online image editor that works much like Photoshop and also supports this format. To import the file, activate the brush tool (press B), open the brush options, and then use the down arrow next to its menu to select Load .ABR.

Photopea brush menu

GIMP is another free image editor that can use ABR files. Just copy the file to the right folder so that GIMP can see it. On our installation of GIMP (yours may be slightly different), the folder is here:

C:\Program Files\GIMP 2\share\gimp\2.0\brushes\Basic\

You can also open one with Tumasoft's Argus or for free with abrViewer, but these programs only let you see a preview of what the brush looks like—they don't actually let you use it.

If you find that an application on your computer tries to open the file but it's the wrong application or you'd rather have another installed program open it, see our How to Change File Associations in Windows guide for making that change.

How to Convert an ABR File

While there probably isn't much of a need to do it, abrMate is a free application that can convert ABR to PNG, so long as the brush file was made in Photoshop CS5 or older. Once it's in that image format, you can use a free image converter to convert it to JPG or some other common format.

You can also convert a GIMP Brush file (GBR) to a Photoshop Brush file so that a brush file made under GIMP can be used with Photoshop, but it's not as streamlined as most conversions.

Here's how to make a Photoshop Brush file from a GIMP Brush file:

  1. Open GIMP's GBR file in XnView.

  2. Save the image as a PNG file.

  3. Open the PNG in Photoshop.

  4. Select the area you want to use as the brush.

  5. Create the brush via Edit > Define Brush Preset.

Still Can't Open It?

It's easy to confuse the ABR file extension with ABW, ABF (Adobe Binary Screen Font), or ABS (Absolute Database). If you can't open your file with the programs mentioned above, you might be confusing a different file format with a Photoshop Brush file.

  • How do I open ABR files without Photoshop?

    To open and use the ABR files in programs other than Photoshop, you must convert the files to PNG format using a tool like ABRviewer. Download ABRviewer and select File > Open brush sets > Open > choose the file > Export > Thumbnails. You might also have luck opening ABR files directly in GIMP without converting them to PNG.

  • How do I add an ABR file to Illustrator?

    You can't add ABR brush files to Illustrator. However, you can create and add Illustrator brush files with the AI file extension. To import Illustrator brush files, go to Window > Brush Libraries > Other Library and find the file. Then go to the Brush Library panel > select the brush to import > Add to Brushes.

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