XCF (file format)

Filename extension .xcf
Internet media type image/xcf
Developed by GIMP
Container for Graphics

XCF, short for eXperimental Computing Facility,[1] is the native image format of the GIMP image-editing program. It saves all of the data the program handles related to the image, including among others each layer, the current selection, channels, transparency, paths and guides.

The saved image data are compressed only by a simple RLE algorithm, but GIMP supports compressed files, using either gzip or bzip2. The compressed files can be opened as normal image files.

The XCF file format is backward compatible (all versions of GIMP can open earlier versions' files) and in some cases, forward compatible. For example, GIMP 2.0 can save text in text layers while GIMP 1.2 can not. Text layers saved in GIMP 2.0 will open as ordinary image layers in GIMP 1.2. However, XCF files containing layer groups, a feature introduced in GIMP 2.7, can't be opened with GIMP 2.6.

The use of XCF as a data interchange format is not recommended by the developers of GIMP,[2] since the format reflects GIMP's internal data structures, and there may be minor format changes in future versions. A collaborative effort between the developers of GIMP and Krita is underway to design a raster file format called OpenRaster, modelled on the OpenDocument format, for use in both applications in a future version.

As of GIMP version 2.8 images are loaded and imported in XCF format. GIMP only supports saving in XCF format; other formats have been moved to the Export dialog.

Software support

XCF is used as a file format in other programs besides GIMP:

Some image viewers and conversion software can read the format with varying degrees of success:

Software development with:


  1. "Partial Specification of the XCF File Format". 2006-07-11. Retrieved 2014-05-21. The name XCF honors GIMP's origin at the eXperimental Computing Facility of the University of California at Berkeley.
  2. http://marc.info/?l=gimp-developer&m=100852164010776&w=2
  3. "About". Seashore. Retrieved 2015-01-03.
  4. Release Notes of Inkscape 0.44
  5. "IrfanView formats". Irfanview.com. Retrieved 03-01-2014. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
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