What Is an XCF File?

How to open, edit, & convert XCF files

What to Know

  • An XCF file is a GIMP image file.
  • Open one with GIMP, Inkscape, or Photopea.
  • Convert to JPG, PNG, PSD, etc., with those same programs.

This article details what XCF files are, including how to open one and how to convert one to a different format.

What Is an XCF File?

A file with the XCF file extension, which stands for eXperimental Computing Facility, is a GIMP image file.

Much like PSD files used in Adobe Photoshop, GIMP uses XCF files to store layers, transparency settings, paths, and other information associated with one or more photos that are a part of the same project.

When the file is opened in a compatible image editor, all those settings are accessible again so that you can edit the layers, images, etc.

XCF GIMP files in Windows 10

How to Open an XCF File

XCF files, if it's not obvious already, are best opened by GIMP, the very popular (and free) image editing tool. XCF files created from any version of GIMP can be opened with the latest version.

IrfanView, XnView, Inkscape, Paint.NET, CinePaint, digiKam, Krita, Seashore, and several other image editors/viewers also work with XCF files.

Photopea is your next best option if you don't want to download anything to your computer. It's a full image editor that works right there in your browser, so it runs on any operating system.

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, see our How to Change File Associations in Windows guide for making that change.

How to Convert an XCF File

GIMP saves files to this format by default, but you can use the File > Export menu to save it as something else, like a JPG or PNG.

Export Image screen in GIMP

You can also use a free image file converter like Zamzar to convert the file to PDF, GIF, AI, TGA, WEBP, TIFF, and other similar file formats. ConvertImage.net is a similar website that supports the conversion of XCF to PSD.

The same image editors listed above are also most likely capable of exporting the file to another image format. Photopea, for example, can download an XCF file back to your computer as a PSD, SVG, PDF, TIFF, ICO, or RAW file, among several others.

Still Can't Open the File?

If none of the programs above will open your file, there's a good chance that you're misreading the file extension. When that happens, you end up trying to open a file in a program that doesn't support it. This is easy to do if the file shares a similar file extension to XCF.

For example, maybe you're confusing a CVX, XCU (OpenOffice.org Configuration), CXF, CFXR (Cocoa Sfxr), XFDF, XFDL, or XDF (Microsoft Machine Learning Server Data) file with an XCF file. Even though some of those files share a couple of the same letters in the file extension, none of them open with GIMP like XCF files do.

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