WMF (Windows Metafile)

The WMF Vector image file format

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.

Technical details of WMF 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.

More information about the WMF file format

File extension .wmf
File category Vector image
Example file Download example.wmf file (16.5 MiB)
Associated programs ACD Systems ACDSee 17
ACD Systems Canvas
Adobe Illustrator
Apple QuickTie Player
Corel PaintShop Pro X6
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X7
Cristallight WMF Converter Pro
IMSI TurboCAD Deluxe
Newera Graphics Converter Pro
MAGIX Xara Photo & Graphic Designer
Microsoft Windows Photo Viewer
Microsoft Picture It!
Useful links Learn more about the WMF file extension
Developer Microsoft