BMP file format

Device independent bitmap
A raster graphics image file format developed by Microsoft for the Windows and OS/2 operating systems.

The BMP file format, also known as bitmap image file or device-independent bitmap (DIB) file format or simply a bitmap, is a raster graphics image file format used to store bitmap digital images, independently of the display device (such as a graphics adapter), especially on Microsoft Windows and OS/2 operating systems.

The BMP file format is capable of storing two-dimensional digital images both monochrome and color, in various color depths, and optionally with data compression, alpha channels, and color profiles. The Windows Metafile (WMF) specification covers the BMP file format.

Microsoft has defined a particular representation of color bitmaps of different color depths, as an aid to exchanging bitmaps between devices and applications with a variety of internal representations. They called these device-independent bitmaps or DIBs, and the file format for them is called DIB file format or BMP image file format.

According to Microsoft support:

A device-independent bitmap (DIB) is a format used to define device-independent bitmaps in various color resolutions. The main purpose of DIBs is to allow bitmaps to be moved from one device to another (hence, the device-independent part of the name). A DIB is an external format, in contrast to a device-dependent bitmap, which appears in the system as a bitmap object (created by an application...). A DIB is normally transported in metafiles (usually using the StretchDIBits() function), BMP files, and the Clipboard (CF_DIB data format).

The following sections discuss the data stored in the BMP file or DIB in detail. This is the standard BMP file format. Some applications create bitmap image files that are not compliant with the Microsoft documentation. Also, not all fields are used; a value of 0 will be found in these unused fields.

BMP file format
  • BMP
also known as
  • Device independent bitmap
  • Bitmap image file
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