What File Formats Does the iPad Support?

By J.T. Barett

A list of some of the file formats supported by the iPad for diverse applications such as photos and video, word processing, music and spreadsheets.

The iOS software that powers Apple's iPad recognizes many standard computer file formats for music, video, documents and specialty applications. Although many of these formats are industry standards, some are proprietary to Apple products.


The iPad supports several common document formats, including those used for word processing, spreadsheets and presentation software. One of the most common file formats supported in iOS is Adobe’s Portable Document Format. Proprietary Apple document formats include PAGES for word processing, KEYNOTE for presentations and NUMBERS for spreadsheets, corresponding to the Apple software programs of the same name. Microsoft-developed standard formats include the DOC and DOCX formats used by Word, PPTX and PPT used by PowerPoint and XLS and XLSX used by Excel. A nearly-universal format, TXT, stores simple text files. The iPad also supports CSV and tab-delimited text files used for sharing spreadsheet data.

Sound and Music

Through Music and similar apps, the iPad supports audio files in industry-standard formats including WAV, MP3, MP4 and M4A and Apple-developed formats such as AAC, AIF, AIFF, AC3 and ATDS. Ringtone files are stored in Apple’s proprietary format, M4R.

Images and Video

The iPad displays images, photos and graphics from BMP, JPG, GIF, TIFF, and PNG formats. Video formats include Microsoft’s AVI, Apple’s MOV, and industry standards MP4 and M4V.


Apples’s iBooks app, included with iOS, is compatible with e-books created in the industry-standard EPUB format. iBooks can also open PDF files.

Internal Housekeeping and Special-Use Files

The iPad uses several file formats for internal recordkeeping, updates and other uses. For example, the Maps app stores information using the MAPSDATA format. Many apps use the SQLite database DB3 file format to manage complex sets of data. The iPad’s iOS software updates come in a format called IPSW.

Other Formats and Third-Party Apps

Third-party apps can open many file formats not covered by native iPad software. For example, the Kindle app uses Amazon’s proprietary MOBI e-book format; Apple's iBooks app cannot open MOBI files. Media players such as VM Player, Oplayer and flex:player handle AVI, WMV, FLV and other video and audio files.