WMF - Windows Metafile

What is a WMF file

The Windows Metafile (known as WMF) file format was first developed in the late 1980’s. This file type was developed by Microsoft and it is designed to contain drawing operations. This includes the kind of programming commands that are needed in order for the file to create lines, circles and rectangles. Some WMF files contain bitmap drawing operations as well which are primarily used for vector images. The primary purpose of WMF was to allow the portability of the image between different types of applications. It stores function calls that are used by Windows when it shows the image on your computer screen. WMF files were also developed to work in a manner that is similar to SVG (scalable vector graphic) files.

Microsoft released the first version of the WMF file type in 1988. This was updated with the release of Windows 3.1, which happened in 1992. Additional updates were completed in 2006. The WMF file format is still used as the native vector format that is used in PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, and other Microsoft Office products. Recently, the standard format for image files has become JPG and GIF files. Because of this, the use of WMF files has decreased, however the format is still compatible with multiple programs. The WMF file interfaces with the GDI (Graphics Device Interface). It holds multiple types of function calls that are then used by the GDI so it can display the image on your monitor.

Here's a small, but not exhaustive list of programs that can open WMF documents:

  • ACD Systems ACDSee 17
  • ACD Systems Canvas
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Apple QuickTie Player
  • Corel PaintShop Pro X6
  • CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X7
  • Cristallight WMF Converter Pro
  • GIMP
  • IMSI TurboCAD Deluxe
  • Inkscape
  • Newera Graphics Converter Pro
  • MAGIX Xara Photo & Graphic Designer
  • Microsoft Windows Photo Viewer
  • Microsoft Picture It!
Extension WMF
MIME type application/x-msmetafile
Useful links
Example Files
(16.52 MiB)
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