What Is an ARW File?

This is an image format used by Sony cameras and a drawing program

What to Know

  • An ARW file is an image. There are two formats it could be in.
  • Open or convert a Sony Alpha Raw image with Photoshop.
  • ArtStudio opens ARW files used by that program.

This article describes two file formats that use the ARW file extension, including how to open and convert both types.

What Is an ARW File?

A file with the ARW file extension stands for Sony Alpha Raw, and is, therefore, a Sony raw image file. It's based on the TIF file format and is similar to other raw files from Sony cameras, like SR2 and SRF files.

A raw image format just means that the file hasn't been compressed or manipulated in any way; it's in the same raw form it was when the camera first captured it.

While Sony's file type is more common, an ARW file might instead be an ArtStudio image.

ARW files in Windows 10 that open with Photos

How to Open an ARW File

ARW files from a Sony digital camera can be opened by various graphics programs. Microsoft Windows' built-in image viewer is one example, as is Sony's free Imaging Edge Desktop software.

Other graphic programs like Able RAWer, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, ACDSee, and ImageMagick can open one, too.

Depending on the version of Windows you're using, you may have to install Microsoft's Raw Image Extension to view the file.

You can also upload it to the raw.pics.io website to view it or edit it in your browser without needing a dedicated opener installed on your computer.

An ARW file that's an ArtStudio Scene file can be opened with ArtStudio.

How to Convert an ARW File

The best way to convert a Sony raw image is to open it in one of the programs mentioned above. Photoshop, for example, can convert an ARW file to RAW, TIFF, PSD, TGA, and a number of other formats, through the File > Save As menu.

If you perform the conversion on the raw.pics.io website, you can save it back to your computer as a JPG or PNG.

Adobe DNG Converter is a free tool for Windows and Mac that can convert ARW to DNG.

Another method is to use a free file converter like ARW Viewer or Zamzar. The latter is an online converter that can save it to JPG, PDF, TIFF, PNG, BMP, AI, GIF, PCX, and several other similar formats.

If your file is used by ArtStudio, open the program's File > Export menu to save the file to a BMP, JPG, or PNG image file. You can also export the scene as an EXE, SCR, SWF, animated GIF, or AVI video file.

Still Can't Open the File?

One reason for why you can't open the file could be that you're misreading the letters/numbers that follow the file name. If the file extension ends with something that just looks like ARW, you might be confusing a different file format for this one, meaning that it should really open in a totally different program.

For example, your file could end in .ARR, which looks a lot like ARW but probably only works in a program like Clickteam Fusion since some files that use that file extension are MultiMedia Fusion Array files.

The same could be said for AWW files used with Ability Office, or XAR files created by MS Excel. Other examples include ARD and GRD files.

If you find out that you don't really have an ARW file, research the file extension you see, either here on Lifewire or on Google, to learn more about the format and which programs are capable of opening or converting it.

  • How do I preview an ARW file on a Mac?

    In Finder, select the ARW file and then select Info. Choose Open with set to Preview. Alternatively, download Imaging Edge Desktop from Sony to preview ARW files on a Mac.

  • Why won't Lightroom import my Sony ARW file?

    First, check the list of cameras supported by Adobe Camera Raw to make sure your Sony camera is supported. Then, make sure you have the current version of Lightroom and install any updates, if necessary. If you still cannot open the file, log out of Lightroom and log back in to complete the update.

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