What Is an EXR File?

How to Open, Edit, and Convert EXR Files

EXR Files

 Tim Fisher

A file with the EXR file extension is an OpenEXR Bitmap file. It's an open-source high-dynamic-range imaging image file format created by the Industrial Light & Magic visual effects company.

EXR files are used by various photo editing, visual effects, and animation programs because they can store high-quality images, can be comprised of lossless or lossy compression, support multiple layers, and hold a high luminance range and color.

More information on this format can be seen at the official OpenEXR website.

How to Open an EXR File

Open EXR files with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects. The now-discontinued Adobe SpeedGrade opens EXR files, too, but since it's no longer available, you might be able to find some of its functions available in the Lumetri color tools in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Some of these Adobe programs might require the fnord ProEXR plugin in order to open and use EXR files.

ColorStrokes and advanced imaging programs like Serif's PhotoPlus should also be able to open EXR files, as can Autodesk's 3ds Max.

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the EXR file but it's the wrong application or if you would rather have another installed program open EXR 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 EXR File

AConvert.com is an online file converter that supports the EXR format. It's able to upload your EXR file and then convert it to JPG, PNG, TIFF, GIF, and many other formats. AConvert.com can also resize the image before converting it.

You might also be able to convert an EXR file using one of the programs from above that can open the file, but a file converter like AConvert.com is much quicker and doesn't need to be installed to your computer before you use it.

Still Can't Open the File?

If you can't get your EXR file to open in the programs you read about above, make sure you're reading the file extension correctly. Some files look like EXR files even though they really aren't related at all.

Some examples include EXEEX4, and EXD files. EXP files are similar, though they might be Symbols Exports, CATIA 4 Export, SonicWALL Preference, or Aurora Export Trace files (or just general export files used by a variety of software programs).

If you don't really have an EXR file, research the file extension that's at the end of your file so that you can learn more about the format it's in and, hopefully, find a compatible viewer or converter.

More Information on EXR Files

The OpenEXR Bitmap file format was created in 1999 and released to the public for the first time in 2003. The last version of this format was 2.2.0, which was released in 2014.

Since version 1.3.0 (released June, 2006), the OpenEXR format supports multithreading reading/writing, which improves performance for CPUs with multiple cores.

This file format supports several compression schemes, including PIZ, ZIP, ZIPS, PXR24, B44, and B44A.

See the Technical Introduction to OpenEXR document (a PDF file) from OpenEXR's website for more information on not only EXR compression but also a closer look at the format's features, file structure, and lots of other super specific details.