What Is an ARW File?

How to open, edit, and convert ARW files

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.

Though the Sony RAW file type is more common, an ARW file might instead be an ArtStudio Scene file.

Screenshot of several ARW files in Windows 10

How to Open an ARW File

ARW files that are of the Sony RAW image format (i.e., from a Sony digital camera) can be opened by various graphics programs. Microsoft Windows Photos and Windows Live Photo Gallery are two examples.

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

Depending on the version of Windows you're using, you may have to install Sony RAW Driver before the built-in image viewers like Photo Gallery can view the ARW file.

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

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

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the ARW file but it's the wrong application or if you would rather have another installed program open ARW files, see our How to Change the Default Program for a Specific File Extension guide for making that change in Windows.

How to Convert an ARW File

The best way to convert a Sony RAW Image file 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 > Safe As menu.

If you convert the ARW file on the raw.pics.io website, you can save it back to your computer or Google Drive account as a JPG, PNG, or WEBP file.

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

Another way to convert an ARW file is to use a free file converter like ARW Viewer or Zamzar. With Zamzar, you have to first upload the ARW file to that website, and then you can convert it to JPG, PDF, TIFF, PNG, BMP, AI, GIF, PCX, and several other similar formats.

If your ARW file is an ArtStudio Scene file, use ArtStudio'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 an ARW file is if you're misreading the suffix on your file's name. If it ends with something that looks like ARW, you might be confusing it for an image file when really it's in a completely different format.

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

The same could be said for AWW files used with Ability Office, or XAR files created by Microsoft 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.