What is a BMP file?

BMP is one of a number of file formats used to store digital images. The bmp format was developed by Microsoft for Windows and all programs created for use in the Windows environment will recognize .bmp image files. The BMP file is a bitmap file which produces images from hundreds of small pixels of color. Little dots of different colors when combined together will produce the image which can easily be loaded from most web sites.

BMP files can be quite large and are not always practical for home use. The file will offer great detail because of its size but images saved in this format can quickly eat up a hard drives space. The typical uncompressed BMP file is ten times the size of a similar JPEG file which is compressed to make the image easier to store or transmit over the internet. If you are scanning photographs, JPEG is a much better choice than BMP for storage.

Where BMP files offer an advantage is when the image must be edited and resaved. The BMP file does not lose detail like other formats which are compressed, so you can work with them better. Once you are finished editing the image though it is best to save the finished product as a JPEG to conserve space on your hard drive and make it easier to send in an email.

The BMP file format, even though it comes from Microsoft has not caught on as the industry standard for image transfer. File size is one drawback and so is the color palette which works with a relatively small number of color options compared to some of the other file formats. BMP images work best with small images or the icons that are so popular in the Windows environment. They load quickly for a fast screen display which is the biggest plus for working with BMP files. There are ways to compress BMP files for easier storage but the image will not be recognized by many software programs. Since the BMP file format was developed by Microsoft it will not work with many Apple applications.