.DDS File Extension

DirectDraw Surface Image

Developer Microsoft
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What is a DDS file?

A DDS file is a raster image saved in the DirectDraw Surface (DDS) container format. It can store compressed and uncompressed pixel formats. DDS files are often used for texturing video game unit models but may also be used to store digital photos and Windows desktop backgrounds.

More Information

Screenshot of a .dds file in XnViewMP 0.98
DDS file open in XnViewMP 0.98

Microsoft developed the DDS format to be used with the DirectX SDK to develop real-time rendering applications, mainly 3D games. Users often utilize the format to store model textures, mipmap levels, and cubemaps in 3D video games.

DDS was introduced in Microsoft DirectX 7.0 in March 2000, and subsequent versions introduced various improvements. Some of these improvements include support for volume textures in DirectX 8.0, arrays of textures in DirectX 10, new Direct3D texture formats in DirectX 11, and variable rate shading (VRS) in DirectX 12.

Since DDS is a container format, it can store various data types. However, the format typically stores texture data compressed with an S3 Texture Compression (S3TC) algorithm, which may be referred to as a DXTn texture.

The compression is a lossy compression, which means some quality is lost during the compression. However, the format provides fast load times since most computer video cards natively support the S3TC/DXTn compression method.

How to open a DDS file

You can open DDS files with various image editors, including XnViewMP, dotPDN paint.net (Windows), and Apple Preview (macOS). You can also view DDS images with GIMP, IrfanView (Windows), and Adobe Photoshop with specific plug-ins.

How to convert a DDS file

Several image editors and viewers, including XnViewMP, ImageMagick, and Apple Preview, can convert DDS images to other formats.

For example, XnViewMP converts DDS images to many file types, including the following formats:

  • .JPG - JPEG Image
  • .PNG - Portable Network Graphic
  • .BMP - Bitmap Image
  • .WEBP - WebP Image
  • .TIF - Tagged Image File Format
  • .PGM - Portable Gray Map Image
  • .PDF - Portable Document Format

You can also convert and manipulate DDS images with ImageMagick via its command line interface. For example, to convert a DDS image to a .PNG image, utilize this command:

magick convert [filename].dds [filename].png

Or to convert a PNG file to a DDS file, utilize this command:

magick convert [filename].png [filename].dds

Programs that open DDS files

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