What Is a DNG File?

How to Open, Edit & Convert DNG Files

Screenshot of several DNG files in Windows 10

Tim Fisher

A file with the DNG file extension is most likely an Adobe Digital Negative Raw Image file. The format is a response to the lack of an open standard for digital camera raw formats. Other raw files can be converted to DNG so that a wider variety of software can use the images.

The DNG file structure provides not only a way for storing an image but also the means for preserving additional information about the photo, such as metadata and color profiles.

Other Uses of the DNG File Extension

Other DNG files may be Virtual Dongle Image files. They are digital copies of physical dongles that some software might require in order to activate the program. A physical dongle acts as a key that holds software license information, so a virtual dongle is used for the same purpose, but with dongle emulators.

Don't confuse DNG files with files that have the DGN extension, which are MicroStation Design 2D/3D drawing files. You can open a DGN file with MicroStation or Bentley View.

How to Open a DNG File

DNG files can be opened with several different image viewers, including the built-in Photos app in Windows and macOS, Able RAWer, Serif's PhotoPlus and ACD Systems' Canvas. Though they're not free, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom also support DNG files. The Adobe Photoshop Express app for Android can open DNG files, too; the same app is available for iOS.

You can open a Virtual Dongle Image file with the USB Dongle Backup and Recovery program from Soft-Key Solutions.

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the DNG file but it's the wrong application or if you would rather have another installed program open DNG files, change the default program for a specific file extension in Windows.

How to Convert a DNG File

If you're already using a program that can open DNG files, then you can probably also use it to convert the DNG file. Photoshop supports saving DNG files to a number of other formats, both common ones as well as RAW, MPO, PXR, and PSD.

For example, if you open the DNG file in Adobe Photoshop, go to File > Save As to convert the image to a variety of Photoshop or other image formats.

Another option is to use a free file converter to convert the DNG file to another format. Zamzar is one example of an online DNG converter that can save the file to JPG, TIFF, BMP, GIF, PNG, TGA and other image formats, including PDF.

Some of the DNG file openers above can also compress the DNG file if you want to keep the format but without the larger file size. Lightroom is one example: Right-click the DNG file and go to Export > Export, choose DNG as the image format, pick Medium for the JPEG Preview setting, enable Use Lossy Compression, and resize the image as necessary.

Tip: Adobe DNG Converter is a free converter from Adobe that does the opposite — it converts other raw image files (e.g., NEF or CR2) to the DNG format. You can use this program on Windows and macOS even if you're not running an Adobe product.