What Is an HQX File?

HQX files are compressed and encoded archives meant for Mac computers

What to Know

  • An HQX file is a BinHex 4 compressed archive file originally used in Mac OS.
  • You can open one with Apple Archive Utility, StuffIt, or WinZip.

This article describes what an HQX file is and how to open one or convert the files that are inside the archive.

What Is an HQX File?

A file with the HQX file extension is a BinHex 4 compressed archive file originally used on classic Mac OS computers that's used to store binary versions of images, documents, and multimedia files. They used to use the .HEX and .HCX extension.

BinHex stands for "binary-to-hexadecimal." The format is used to store 8-bit binary data in a 7-bit text format. While their file size is larger, corruption is said to be less likely with files that have been saved in this way, which is why HQX files used to be preferred when transferring data over email.

HQX files in Windows 10

Files that have been encoded with BinHex might have a filename like file.jpg.hqx to indicate that it's holding a JPG file.

How to Open an HQX File

HQX files are typically seen on Mac computers—you can use Incredible Bee Archiver or Apple's built-in archive utility to open one.

If you're running Windows and need to decompress an HQX file, try WinZip, StuffIt, or another popular file extractor compatible with Windows.

Altap Salamander and the Web Util's online BinHex Encoder/Decoder Tool are two other options if none of the above are working for you.

If for some reason you're not sure if a file is actually encoded with BinHex, you can use a text editor to check that the first line reads as follows:

(This file must be converted with BinHex 4.0)

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

How to Convert an HQX File

Since HQX files are a type of archive formats like ZIP or RAR, you'll have to first open the archive before you can convert any files inside.

For example, if you have a PNG file inside an HQX file that you want to convert to JPG, instead of trying to convert the HQX archive to JPG directly, use one of the tools from above that can open HQX files. Once you've done that, extract the PNG out and then use a free file converter to convert PNG to JPG (or whatever format you're interested in).

The same concept is true if you're trying to convert HQX to ICNS, ZIP, PDF, etc.—extract the contents of the archive first, and then use a file converter on the extracted files.

Still Can't Open It?

If you still can't open your file, you might be misreading the file extension. Some files share common letters in their file extension even though the formats are unrelated.

QX (Quexal source code), HQM (Hardcore Questing Mode data), QXP (QuarkXPress project), and QXF (Quicken Essentials for Mac Exchange) are a few examples.

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