.VCF File Extension

.VCF File Extension

2 file types use the .vcf file extension.
File Type 1

vCard File

Developer N/A
3.5  |  588 Votes
Category Data Files
Format Text and Binary

What is a VCF file?

A VCF file is a standard file format for storing contact information for a person or business. It typically includes a name, address, phone number, email address, and other contact information. VCF files also support custom fields, images, and other types of media.

More Information

VCF files are often used for importing and exporting contacts from address books. They may be attached to e-mail messages, which provides the recipient with an easy way to import the sender's contact information.

Windows users can open vCards using the included Windows Contacts program. Mac OS X users can open vCards with the included Contacts application. iPod and iPhone users can load vCards directly into the device's Contacts app. Android users can also load vCards using the Contacts app bundled with the operating system.

VCF files may be created from other file formats. For example, .XLS or .XLSX files can be saved as .CSV files in Microsoft Excel then converted to VCF files using simple converter programs, such as CSV to vCard.

NOTE: vCards are saved in a text format, which means you can view the contents in a text editor. However, they may also include a block of binary data, which is often used to store a photo.

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Programs that open VCF files

File Type 2

Variant Call Format File

Developer 1000 Genomes Project
2.3  |  9 Votes
Category Text Files
Format Text

What is a VCF file?

A VCF file is a text file used in bioinformatics to store information about variant genetic sequences. It contains metadata that describes the file's format, source, created on date, and reference genome, and it contains column-formatted genetic sequencing data. VCF files are used as part of large-scale genotyping and DNA sequencing projects, such as the 1000 Genomes Project.

More Information
Screenshot of a .vcf file in GitHub Atom
VCF file open in GitHub Atom

To streamline the storage of variant genetic information, the 1000 Genomes Project created the Variant Call Format (VCF). This format allows bioinformaticians to catalog variants of a genome without recording those variants' genetic data in their entirety. Instead, bioinformaticians save one default reference copy of the genome in a .FASTA or another file, and then they describe the genome's variants in a VCF file. This allows bioinformaticians to quickly review and analyze genetic variants, without sifting through redundant data.

In its header, the VCF file describes its own file format, created on date, source, and other relevant metadata. The most important piece of metadata is the VCF file's ##reference, which describes where the VCF file's reference genome is stored.

In its body, the VCF file contains variant genetic sequencing data that is separated into eight mandatory columns, including:

  • CHROM: The name of the sequence on which the variation is being called
  • POS: The 1-based position of the variation on the given sequence
  • ID: The identifier of the variation or . if the identifier is unknown
  • REF: The reference base at the given position on the reference sequence
  • ALT: This list of alternative alleles at this position
  • QUAL: A quality score associated with the inference of the given alleles
  • FILTER: A flag indicating which of a given set of filters the variation has passed
  • INFO: An extensible list of key-value pairs describing the variation

Some VCF files may contain additional columns of data, including FORMAT and SAMPLE.

How do I open a VCF file?

Because VCF files are plain text files, you can open and examine them using any text editor, such as Microsoft Notepad (Windows), Apple TextEdit (Mac), or GitHub Atom (cross-platform).

However, VCF files are meant to be used as part of genotyping and DNA sequencing catalogs. Those working with these catalogs can use the open-source VCFtools library (cross-platform) to edit and manipulate VCF files.

Programs that open VCF files

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