The Most Popular File Format: A Comprehensive Ranking

Choose the format you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Jun 16, 2023 10:18 (Updated on Dec 7, 2023 07:50)
Step right up and cast your vote in the great digital debate of our time! Welcome to StrawPoll, where we've launched a thrilling quest to discover the most popular file format across the digital realm. From the classic JPEG to the ever-versatile PDF, we've gathered the top contenders vying for the prestigious title. But we need your help! Unleash your inner tech aficionado and join thousands of others in this electrifying ranking. Think we missed a key player? Fear not, for you can suggest a missing option and watch the competition unfold. The digital world awaits your verdict – so click on, explore, and let your voice be heard!

What Is the Most Popular File Format?

  1. 1
    This file format is widely used for sharing documents as it preserves the formatting and layout across different devices and platforms. It is also secure and cannot be easily edited.
    The PDF (Portable Document Format) is a file format used to present and exchange documents reliably across different operating systems, hardware, and software. It was developed by Adobe Systems and released in 1993. PDF files can contain text, images, graphics, and interactive elements. They maintain the formatting and layout of the document regardless of the device or platform used to view them.
    • Open Standard: PDF is an open standard maintained by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
    • Cross-platform Compatibility: PDF files can be viewed, printed, and edited on different operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux.
    • Security: PDF supports various security features, including password protection, encryption, and digital signatures, to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of the document.
    • Compact File Size: PDF files can be compressed to reduce their file size, making them easier to share and store.
    • Accessibility: PDF supports accessibility features, such as text-to-speech, screen reader compatibility, and semantic tagging, to ensure documents are usable by people with disabilities.
  2. 2
    This file format is commonly used for digital images as it provides good quality while compressing the file size. It is supported by most devices and software.
    JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) is a widely used file format for storing compressed images. It was created by the Joint Photographic Experts Group, a working group that developed the standard in 1992. JPEG is primarily known for its ability to compress images without significant loss of quality, making it ideal for photographs and complex images.
    • Compression Algorithm: Discrete Cosine Transform (DCT)
    • Color Depth: Up to 24-bit
    • Image Quality Levels: 1 (lowest) - 100 (highest)
    • Lossy or Lossless: Lossy
    • Used For: Photographs, web images, digital art
  3. 3
    This file format is used for audio files as it provides high-quality sound while compressing the file size. It is widely used for music downloads and streaming.
    MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3) is a widely used audio file format that offers high-quality compressed sound while minimizing file size. It is known for its efficient compression algorithm that achieves significant data reduction without noticeable loss of audio quality. MP3 files are compatible with a wide range of devices and are widely used for music playback and streaming.
    • File Extension: .mp3
    • Compression Algorithm: Lossy compression using psychoacoustic principles
    • Audio Quality: High-quality audio with negligible loss
    • Bitrate: From 8 kbps to 320 kbps (typical range)
    • Sample Rate: From 8 kHz to 48 kHz (typical range)
  4. 4
    This file format is commonly used for word processing documents as it is compatible with Microsoft Word and other word processing software. It supports advanced formatting and features.
    DOCX is a file format used by Microsoft Word for creating, editing, and saving documents. It is a binary format based on the XML format and was introduced with Microsoft Office 2007. DOCX files are commonly used for creating professional documents, such as reports, letters, resumes, and more.
    • File Extension: .docx
    • MIME Type: application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document
    • Initial Release: Office 2007
    • Supported Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux
    • Structure: Binary file format based on XML
  5. 5
    This file format is commonly used for digital images as it provides high-quality images with transparency support. It is widely supported by web browsers and graphics software.
    PNG (Portable Network Graphics) is a raster graphics file format that supports lossless data compression. It was created as an improved and patent-free alternative to GIF. PNG files can be widely used for web graphics, digital images, and icons due to their ability to preserve transparency and support various color depths. The format utilizes a combination of different compression techniques to achieve efficient image representation.
    • Compression Type: Lossless compression using Deflate algorithm
    • Color Depth: Supports 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16 bits per channel
    • Transparency: Alpha channel transparency with full range of transparency levels
    • Palette-based: Supports RGB, grayscale, and indexed color modes with a palette of up to 256 colors
    • Interlacing: Supports interlaced or non-interlaced images for progressive rendering
  6. 6
    This file format is commonly used for video files as it provides good quality and is widely supported by media players and editing software.
    AVI (Audio Video Interleave) is a multimedia file format developed by Microsoft. It is commonly used for storing audio and video data in a single file, allowing synchronized playback of both media types. AVI files can be played on various operating systems and media players, making it a widely supported format.
    • File Extension: .avi
    • Max File Size: 4 GB
    • Video Codecs: MJPEG, DivX, Xvid, H.264, MPEG-4
    • Audio Codecs: PCM, MP3, AC-3, AAC
    • Video Resolution: Up to 4K
  7. 7
    This file format is commonly used for spreadsheets as it is compatible with Microsoft Excel and other spreadsheet software. It supports advanced calculations and formulas.
    XLSX is a file format used for storing and organizing data in tabular form, primarily used by Microsoft Excel. It is an extension of the older XLS format and offers various improvements in terms of file size, data capacity, and compatibility.
    • File Extension: .xlsx
    • Maximum Rows: 1,048,576
    • Maximum Columns: 16,384
    • Maximum Cell Styles: 64,000
    • Maximum Characters in a Cell: 32,767
  8. 8
    This file format is commonly used for animated images as it supports animation and transparency. It is widely used for memes and social media.
    GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is a widely used file format for raster graphics that supports animation and transparency. It uses lossless compression to reduce file size without compromising image quality. GIF files have a limited color palette of up to 256 colors.
    • File Extension: .gif
    • MIME Type: image/gif
    • Color Depth: Up to 8 bits per pixel
    • Maximum Image Size: 65,535 x 65,535 pixels
    • Animation Support: Multiple frames with delays
  9. 9
    This file format is commonly used for video files as it provides high-quality video with compression. It is widely supported by media players and streaming services.
    MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14) is a digital multimedia container format that is widely used for storing video, audio, and other multimedia data. It was developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and is based on the ISO base media file format. MP4 is commonly used for streaming, sharing, and distributing media content due to its efficient compression algorithms and broad device compatibility.
    • File extension: .mp4
    • MIME type: video/mp4
    • Video codecs: H.264, HEVC, MPEG-4 Visual, MPEG-2 Video, others
    • Audio codecs: AAC, MP3, AC-3, others
    • Supported media types: Video, audio, subtitles, images
  10. 10
    This file format is commonly used for high-quality digital images as it supports high resolution and color depth. It is widely used for printing and publishing.
    TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) is a widely used file format for storing raster graphics images. It supports lossless compression and can store multiple images and data types within a single file. The format uses tags to store metadata and additional information about the image. TIFF files have broad compatibility across different platforms, making them suitable for archiving and exchanging images.
    • Compression: Supports various compression algorithms like LZW, JPEG, Packbits, and ZIP
    • Color Spaces: Supports RGB, CMYK, grayscale, and indexed color spaces
    • Bits per Sample: Can store images with 1 to 32 bits per sample
    • Image Resolution: Supports both pixel dimensions and physical dimensions
    • Multi-page Support: Ability to store multiple pages or images within a single file

Missing your favorite format?


Ranking factors for popular file format

  1. Compatibility
    The file format should be compatible with various platforms, operating systems, and software applications. This ensures that users can easily access, open, and edit the file regardless of the device or software they are using.
  2. Versatility
    The format should be suitable for various types of content, including text, images, audio, video, and multimedia. A popular file format should be able to accommodate different types of data without compromising quality or functionality.
  3. File size
    File formats should ideally offer efficient compression techniques that reduce the size of the file without significantly impacting the quality of the content. Smaller file sizes make it easier to share, store, and transmit files.
  4. Quality
    The file format should maintain the quality of the original content, minimizing the loss of data or quality during compression or conversion processes. Some formats may offer options for lossy or lossless compression, depending on the user's needs.
  5. Security
    Popular file formats should offer features that help protect the data within the file, such as encryption, password protection, and watermarking options.
  6. Ease of use
    Creating, editing, and viewing files in a particular format should be streamlined and user-friendly. Users should be able to easily access the features and functions of the file format without having to navigate through complex menus or interfaces.
  7. Support and updates
    A popular file format should have widespread support from software developers and maintain consistent updates to ensure compatibility and performance over time.
  8. Metadata support
    The format should support comprehensive metadata, such as titles, authorship, dates, and other information about the content within the file. This helps with organization, searchability, and sharing of files.
  9. Accessibility
    The file format should be accessible to users of all abilities, supporting features like captions, subtitles, and alternative text for images. Accessible file formats are essential for ensuring inclusivity and compliance with web accessibility standards.
  10. Adoption
    Widespread adoption of the format will increase its popularity, as more users, organizations, and industries begin to use and recognize it as a standard way to share, store, and access information.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular file format. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or format is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 216 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Movers & Shakers

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each format once every 24 hours. The rank of each format is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most popular file format

The world of computing and digital media is filled with a plethora of file formats. Each file format is designed to serve a specific purpose, ranging from image files to video files, text documents to spreadsheets, and more. With so many options available, it can be difficult to determine which file format is the most popular among users. As a result, we conducted a comprehensive poll on StrawPoll to find out what the most popular file format is. The results were surprising, with some formats being more popular than others. In this article, we will explore the top file formats and the reasons behind their popularity. Whether you are a technology enthusiast, a student, or an office worker, this article will provide you with valuable insights into the most popular file formats used today.

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