The Advantages & Disadvantages of TIFF

By Ed Stanyer

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) is a popular imaging file format. Since TIFF is supported by most major operating systems and software suites, it has become a standard imaging format for digital editing and photography.


One of the major advantages of TIFF files is that they can be edited with most popular image editing software on the market. All popular operating systems have built-in TIFF viewers. For this reason, people can send TIFF's without having to worry about the recipient not being able to view it.


By default, TIFF files do not use compression. The big advantage to this is that there is no loss of image detail when a save is made. Saves to the image can be made frequently and no information will ever be lost. Compression is available on TIFF files, most commonly with the LZW algorithm. This however is not universally supported and some software suites won't be able to open TIFF files compressed by LZW.

File Size

Since compression is not used by default on TIFF files, the file size is generally quite big. This is a big disadvantage of TIFF files. Uncompressed TIFF images can take up a lot more space than a JPEG. This means that digital cameras will not be able to save as many photos in the native TIFF format. It also causes a problem for when sending TIFF's via email, in a lot of cases the attachment size is too big.

Comparison to Other Formats

In comparison to other imaging file formats, TIFF's are not as commonly used due to their large file size. In most cases, TIFF's will be used until a final save is required, this is often done as JPEG format to greatly reduce the file size. The image quality between a JPEG and TIFF is usually negligible in most cases.