What Is an MAT File?

How to open, edit, & convert MAT files

A file with the MAT file extension is most likely a Microsoft Access Table Shortcut file that's used to quickly open a table without having to first open the MS Access program.

The MathWorks MATLAB program uses MAT files, too, but as a container for holding data like functions and variables.

MAT files may instead be used in 3D design software to store things like textures and images. These MAT files are called 3ds Max Materials files, Vue Material files, or V-Ray Materials files.

MAT files in Windows 10 that open with MS Access

MAT files are not the same as .MATERIAL files, which are Rigs of Rods Texture Reference files used with the Rigs of Rods 3D simulator game. Atomic Combat Saved Game files is another file format that has a similar file extension of .MATO, but those types of files open with Atomic Combat.

How to Open an MAT File

MAT files that are Microsoft Access Shortcut files can be created by dragging a table out of Access and to the desktop or into another folder. Microsoft Access needs to be installed in order to use them.

The MathWorks MATLAB can open MAT files that are used by that program.

If your MAT file isn't in either of the above formats, it might instead be a Materials file used in 3D design software. Autodesk's 3ds Max and E-on Vue use MAT files. Chaos Group's V-Ray plugin can load MAT files into 3ds Max and MAXON CINEMA software.

The Unity game engine may use MAT files as well.

Use a free text editor to open the MAT file if none of the above programs are working for you. It's possible that a different program created it and stored the information in a plain text file. This isn't the case for any of the above cases, but it might be for yours.

If you find that an application on your computer tries to open the MAT file but it's the wrong application or you'd rather have another installed program open MAT 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 MAT File

There's no way to convert a Microsoft Access Table Shortcut file, and there's also probably no reason to want to convert this type of MAT file.

However, MAT files that are used in other programs as Materials files probably can be converted. This is likely possible through the program that uses the file.

So if you're wanting to convert an MAT file that's used with E-on Vue, for example, you should be able to open the file in that program and save the open MAT file to another format. This is normally possible though a Save As or Export option in the File menu.

If you're looking to convert 3ds Max Materials files to a format that's supported by previous versions of the software, see these instructions.

MATLAB can convert an MAT file to CSV. See the instructions at MATLAB Answers if you need help, as well as this documentation on csvwrite. Follow that same MATLAB Answers link to search around the site if you need help converting MAT to TXT or another text-based format.

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