How to Open, Edit, and Convert CHA Files

Screenshot of CHA files in Windows 10 that open with Adobe Photoshop

Tim Fisher 

A file with the CHA file extension is most likely an Adobe Photoshop Channel Mixer file, a format that stores custom intensity levels of red, green, and blue source channels.

However, it's not the only format that uses this extension...

Some CHA files might instead be IRC Chat Configuration files, a format that stores information about an IRC (Internet Relay Chat) channel, like the server and port, and maybe even the password. Some special URLs may end in .CHA so that, when clicked, they will open a specific chat program on the computer.

Other files that have the CHA file extension may instead be Character Layout files, a format which describes how a font's characters should be spaced and laid out. Still others might be encrypted files used with the Challenger file encryption software.

Note: CHA is also an acronym for some technical terms that don't pertain to a CHA file format, like class hierarchy analysis, concept hazard analysis, and call handling agent.

How to Open a CHA File

The most common CHA file is one used with Adobe Photoshop as a Channel Mixer file. These are opened through the Image > Adjustments > Channel Mixer menu option. Once the Channel Mixer dialog box opens, there's a small menu next to the OK button that you need to select, and then choose Load Preset to open the CHA file.

Internet Relay Chat software like mIRC, Visual IRC, XChat, Snak, and Colloquy are all able to open CHA files that are used with those types of programs.

Character Layout Files will open with DTL (Dutch Type Library) OTMaster Light.

The free storage encryption software called Challenger uses CHA files too. When the program encrypts a file, it renames it to something like file.docx.cha to indicate that the DOCX file (or whatever type of file) is encrypted with Challenger. Use the Encrypt/Decrypt file or Folder or Drive button to load the CHA files into Challenger in order to decrypt them.

Tip: You might try opening your CHA file in Notepad++ if none of the above suggestions prove to be helpful. It's possible your CHA file is just a text file, in which case a text editor like this can display its contents. However, if you find that the text is completely unreadable, there's a good chance that you're not actually using a CHA file (there's more on that below).

If you happen to have more than one program installed on your computer that supports CHA files (of any format), and you want a different program to open them by default, changing what program is that program is pretty easy. Learn how to change file associations in Windows for to do that.

More Help With CHA Files

There are plenty of different uses for CHA files but we don't see any reason to convert any of them to a different file format. Each of these CHA files is used in their respective programs only, so even if a file converter exists for them we don't think it will be of any practical use.

If your CHA file doesn't open with any of the programs mentioned here, the problem may be as simple as having misread the file extension of your specific file. Be sure it's not actually a different file that just has a similar file extension, like a CHM (Compiled HTML Help), CHN, CHW, or CHX (AutoCAD Standards Check) file.

Each of those files opens in a unique way and do not use the applications mentioned above. If you try to open one of them with Photoshop, Snak, etc., you'll probably get an error or, if it opens at all, it will appear unreadable and unusable.

Instead, research the actual file extension that you have so that you can find the appropriate software that can open or maybe even convert your CHA file.