What Is a DAE File?

How to open, edit, and convert DAE files

What to Know

  • A DAE file is a Digital Asset Exchange file.
  • Open one with Photoshop or Blender.
  • Convert to OBJ, STL, FBX, etc. with a dedicated converter tool.

This article describes what a DAE file is, how to open one online or on your computer, and how to convert one to a different format.

What Is a DAE File?

A file with the DAE file extension is a Digital Asset Exchange file. As the name implies, it's used by various graphics programs to exchange digital assets. They may be images, textures, 3D models, etc.

This file format is based on the XML COLLADA format, which is short for Collaborative Design Activity.

Screenshot of several DAE files that open with Photoshop in Windows 10

DAE is also short for some technology terms that have nothing to do with this file format, such as disk array enclosure and digital audio engine.

How to Open a DAE File

Several programs are suitable: Adobe Photoshop, SketchUp, Chief Architect, DAZ Studio, Cheetah3D, Cinema 4D, MODO, and Autodesk's AutoCAD, 3ds Max, and Maya programs. Other applications probably support the format too, like the free and open source Blender tool.

DAE file open in Photoshop
DAE file open in Photoshop.

The COLLADA plugin for Maya and 3ds Max is required for those programs, and this COLLADA plugin is necessary for opening DAE files in Blender.

Another opener for macOS is Apple Preview. Some DAE files may also open in Esko's free Studio Viewer.

Clara.io is a free and easy way to view the file online in your web browser so that you don't have to download any software.

Some file types can be viewed with a program that uses text files exclusively. While this is true for a DAE file, too, since they're XML-based, it's not the ideal solution since it will just show you the text that makes up the file. The best way to view a 3D DAE file is to use a full-fledged viewer, such as one of the above programs.

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the file but it's the wrong application or you'd rather have another installed program open it, we have a guide on how to make that file association change in Windows.

How to Convert a DAE File

One easy to use DAE converter is Online 3D Converter. Just upload it there and choose between different formats to save it, like OBJ, 3DS, STL, PLY, X, and others.

FBX Converter is a free tool from Autodesk for Windows and macOS that converts DAE files to FBX, with support for multiple versions of the FBX format.

The file can also be converted to GLB for use in CesiumJS. You can do this with Cesium's own online COLLADA to gITF tool.

After importing a DAE file into SketchUp Pro, the program can be used to export the model to DWG, DXF, and several other similar formats.

Still Can't Open It?

If you can't open your file at this point, it's likely you're dealing with a file that's in a completely different format. This can happen rather easily if you've misread the file extension. Some extensions look similar even though the file formats are unrelated.

For example, DAE files have nothing to do with DAR, DAA, DAT, or DAO (Disk at Once CD/DVD Image) files.

ADE is another one you might confuse for DAE. Although all the same file extension letters are present, those are Access Project Extension files that can only be used in Microsoft Access.

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