Best software to open EXR files

Vlad Turiceanu
by Vlad Turiceanu
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  • EXR files are a proprietary file format created by the Industrial Light & Magic visual effects company.
  • They can store better image quality, while also offering layer support and a better luminance and color range.
  • They are mainly used by video editing tools such as Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro, AutoDesk 3ds Max, and more.
  • For more articles on software designed to open specific file formats, check out our File Opener page.
exr opening software

Those of you that frequently work with image and video editing tools are probably well aware of what an EXR file is. For those of you that aren’t too familiar with the concept, a file with the EXR file extension is an OpenEXR Bitmap file.

It acts as an open-source high-dynamic-range imaging type of file format. It was first created by the Industrial Light & Magic visual effects company and is used by various photo editing, visual effects, and animation programs.

What makes these programs so impressive is that they can store high-quality images, can be comprised of lossless or lossy compression, support multiple layers, and hold a high luminance range and color.

Since they re so important, we will be looking over several software tools that are extremely versed in the way of handling EXR files.

The list is based on how easy they can open EXR files, and how many things these programs can do with an EXR file.

What are the best software that can open EXR files?

Adobe After Effects is a software tool that looks and feels as if it was created with EXR files in mind. All you need to do double-click the file or drag it onto an open After Effects window and the file will be open.

You can then make short work of it, modifying all image settings that you can imagine, from colors to luminosity.

More so, gaining access to Adobe After Effects will open up a whole new world of possibilities as far as video editing is concerned, as it is a world-leader in the domain.

In fact, by the time you get used to the entire toolset (and it will take some time to do so), the fact that it can open EXR files will probably be the last thing on your mind

Here are some of Adobe After Effects’ main features:

  • The projects created in After Effects are fully compatible with most other Adobe products
  • Everyone uses it, so the Internet is full of helpful guides
  • Extensive plug-in support
  • Comes with a free trial
  • Great for creating high-quality products

⇒ Download Adobe After Effects free

If Adobe After Effects is the program that you use to add special effects to a video during the post-production phase, then Adobe Premiere Pro is the program you build the video from the ground up with.

This program is well suited for the creation and editing of videos, regardless of size or purpose. More so, the program has proven itself to be perfectly capable of opening EXR files as well.

Despite the Adobe namesake, the program is just like the typical timeline-based video editing tool, but with a professional-level toolset.

All in all, if you want to open EXR files in order to use them in basic video editing projects, then Adobe Premiere Pro is the software that you need. Once the video is complete, consider using After Effects as well to further enrich your movie.

Here are some of Adobe Premiere Pro’ main features:

  • Simplistic time-line-based movie editing
  • Great for creating videos from the ground up
  • Fully compatible with other Adobe products, especially After Effects
  • Not very resource-intensive
  • Can be tested during a 7-day trial period

⇒ Download Adobe Premiere Pro free

The third entry on our list is yet another software tool from the Adobe family. However, unlike the previous two entries, this one doesn’t deal with video editing at all.

Adobe Photoshop is probably one of the most recognized raster-based graphics editors in the world. It is so well-known, that it even ended up coining the term for doctoring images, photoshoping.

Regardless of which, EXR is a Bitmap-type file that has layer support, so it goes without saying that a program like Photoshop can handle them so well.

Those of you that are familiar with other programs from the Adobe family (Illustrator, After Effects, Premiere Pro, etc.) should have no difficulty getting used to this program’s UI since it follows the same principles.

Here are some of Adobe Prohoshop’s main features:

  • Full layer support
  • Paste as Plain Text
  • 360 Panorama Workflow
  • Tooltips
  • Copy-Paste Layers

⇒ Download Adobe Photoshop free

Another great software tool that everybody knows that can handle EXR files is Autodesk 3ds Max. While few might have expected a CAD software to be included on our list, the fact that it can open these types of files is what brought it here.

The images can be used in conjunction with the 3D models that you can create, resulting in stunning pieces of work. In simple terms, imagine that the EXR images will most likely be used as the surface texture for the 3D objects that you created.

Of course, Autodesk 3ds Max is not just an EXR file opener, it is a program that holds the potential of creating entire 3D worlds as long as you invest the necessary time.

Here are some of Autodesk 3ds Max’s main features:

  • Create massive worlds in games
  • Visualize high-quality architectural creations
  • Model finely detailed interiors and objects
  • Bring characters and features to life with animation and VFX
  • Students and schools have access to free licenses

⇒ Download Autodesk 3ds Max

As you can see, EXR files are quite versatile in terms of what they can be used in, especially since our list is comprised of two video editing tools, a CAD tool and a photo editor.

All in all, the best software to open EXR files eventually boils down to what exactly do you want to do with the file.


FAQ: Learn more about EXR files

  • What is an EXR file?

A file with the EXR file extension is an OpenEXR Bitmap file, and it is a type of image file.

  • Where can EXR files be used?

EXR files are used in a wide variety of photo editing, visual effects, and animation programs, such as those from the Adobe Creative Cloud.

  • Why are EXR files used in visual editing used?

EXR files are used because they can store high-quality images, can be comprised of lossless or lossy compression, they can also support multiple layers, and can retain a high luminance range and color. This makes them great for vector-based graphics editors.


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