.3DS File Extension

2 file types use the .3ds file extension.

3D Studio Scene

Developer Autodesk
4.1  |  195 Votes

What is a 3DS file?

A 3DS file is a 3D image format used by various 3D applications, such as Autodesk 3ds Max, Trimble SketchUp, and Maxon Cinema 4D. It contains mesh data, material attributes, bitmap references, smoothing group data, viewport configurations, camera locations, and lighting information (and may also include object animation data). 3DS files may store 3D objects (e.g., vehicles, furniture, people, etc.), buildings (e.g., warehouses, hotels, etc.), landscapes (e.g., city blocks, downtown areas, etc.), and more.

More Information

Screenshot of a .3ds file in Maxon Cinema 4D 2023
3DS file open in Maxon Cinema 4D 2023

Autodesk initially developed the 3DS format in 1990 as the native format for Autodesk 3D Studio. As the software grew in popularity, so did the format.

However, Autodesk eventually replaced 3D Studio with 3ds Max, and newer software versions saved 3D models in the .MAX format, by default. Even though Autodesk replaced the 3DS format with the MAX format, many 3D applications still support the format.

3DS Format

The 3DS format consists of data blocks called "chunks" containing an ID and length description. Chunks store the shapes, lighting, and viewing information that together represent the three-dimensional scene.

How to open a 3DS file

You can open 3DS files with Autodesk 3ds Max in Windows. To open the 3DS file with 3ds Max, select File → Open.

Other third-party applications also support 3DS files. Some options include Trimble SketchUp, Maxon Cinema 4D, and Adobe Photoshop.

How to convert a 3DS file

Various applications, such as Autodesk 3ds Max and Maxon Cinema 4D, can convert 3DS files to other formats.

For example, 3ds Mac can convert 3DS files to various formats, including the following file types:

  • .MAX - 3ds Max Scene File
  • .FBX - Autodesk FBX Interchange File
  • .AI - Adobe Illustrator Artwork
  • .DWG - AutoCAD Drawing
  • .DXF - Drawing Exchange Format
  • .IGS - IGES Drawing
  • .SAT - ACIS SAT 3D Model
  • .STL - Stereolithography File
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Programs that open 3DS files

Nintendo 3DS ROM

Developer N/A
4.1  |  113 Votes

A 3DS file contains a game ROM of a video game for the Nintendo 3DS (N3DS) handheld console system. It stores a copy of the data from an original game cartridge and can be played on a computer with supporting emulator software.

More Information

3DS files are typically used by gamers who enjoy playing discontinued games on their computers. The gamers may create 3DS files by dumping the game data from the original cartridge onto a computer and packaging it as a 3DS file. Or gamers may download 3DS files from game emulator websites that have already been dumped from game cartridges.

There are various emulators available for playing 3DS games, including TronDS and Lime3DS (replaced Citra). Some features provided by emulators include enhanced game graphics, "cheat" options, and new gameplay settings.

NOTE: 3DS files may require external resource files to be emulated properly. If the correct resource files are not present, there may be glitches in the game or it may not be playable.

Programs that open 3DS files


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