I'm looking for some software that would open BigTIFF files on a mac - ones that are 6GB or bigger. (I'm not opposed to writing some code to do so, but I'd prefer a prewritten solution.)

Does macOS have any built-in software to handle this sort of thing? If not, are there any commonly-used external programs or libraries that I could employ?

I just need to view the images and be able to zoom in - I don't need to edit them.


Just to be clear, I am not wanting to view large TIFF images. I am specifically referring to bigTIFF images. If you are not familiar with these, please refer to http://bigtiff.org/


Yes, macOS includes the Preview app which can open large TIFF images.

By default, the Preview app is located within your Applications folder.

The Preview app actually offers a lot of functionality, including:

  • opening images and PDFs
  • editing images and PDFs
  • signing documents
  • sharing files
  • annotation

For more details, see this page.

If I've misunderstood your question, please feel free to clarify it.

  • 1
    Are you sure Preview would handle >6 GB TIFF images? For me, it looks like Preview loads the whole file into memory. And what do PDFs and signing have to do with bigTIFF? – techraf Dec 4 '16 at 13:48
  • @Monomeeth - Based on your answer, I'm guessing you're not super familiar with bigTIFF images (which is totally normal - I had never heard of them until two days ago.) There's some info about them here: bigtiff.org – mchen.ja Dec 4 '16 at 22:50
  • 1
    @techraf To be honest I haven't opened a TIFF image larger than 6GB, but I do regularly open TIFF images in the order of 3.5GB. Preview often looks like it stops responding (even to the point the spinning beachball disappears) but then after a few minutes the image appears fine. Zooming in/out also works, after the initial zoom which takes a little while. Of course, the amount of RAM and type of storage you have will have a big impact on response and open/save times. – Monomeeth Dec 4 '16 at 23:05
  • There's a technical difference between 3.5 GB and 4.5 GB TIFF. – techraf Dec 4 '16 at 23:07
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    @mchen.ja I was starting to suspect that, as I just noticed you rolled back my edit to your question. Also, I did think there was a 4GB file size limit in terms of TIFF image sizes, although that may only be a limit with Adobe Photoshop (which will work with 6GB+ images but won't save any larger than 4GB). I also know many image viewers don't support more than 30,000 pixels in either direction (height v width). Thanks for the link to bigtiff.org (I suggest you edit your question in order to clarify exactly what you're trying to do). – Monomeeth Dec 4 '16 at 23:09

Try Graphic Converter, my go-to photo and graphic app for many years, handles some tough tasks.

  • Graphic Converter is an excellent package, and will no doubt support BigTIFF in time, but as I've discovered as a result of researching the OP's question, BigTIFF is a new file format that isn't readily supported yet. Specifically, BigTIFF is a variation of the TIFF file format which uses 64-bit offsets and supports file sizes larger than the 4GB limit of the standard TIFF format (which only uses 32-bit offsets. – Monomeeth Dec 5 '16 at 3:55

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