EPS files: Everything you should know about the EPS format

The EPS file format, which enables the embedding and lossless printing of graphics, is now obsolete. However, there are still numerous free and commercial programs that can open or partially convert EPS files.

What is an EPS file?

The EPS file is a graphic file in the PostScript page description language. EPS stands for Encapsulated PostScript. The format was developed as early as 1987 by John Warnock and Chuck Geschke, the founders of Adobe, together with Aldus. The aim of the technology was to display digital images and graphics on the desktop and print them without loss. This is based on the pixels being mathematically calculated so that no quality losses can occur. The EPS file is considered the basis for today’s PDF, although it is now obsolete.

In addition to the actual image information, the EPS file also contains details about the output size. Unlike a regular PostScript file, the EPS format always comprises a maximum of one page, but can contain any combination of images, fonts, text, and vectors. This makes the format easier to scale. However, EPS cannot distinguish between vector and bitmap and cannot be clearly assigned to an application. That’s why Encapsulated PostScripts are rarely used. EPS files usually contain a preview image in the image formats tif, wmf, or Pict – depending on which operating system is used.

EPS format limitations

The EPS file format – even when compared to PostScript (PS files) – has numerous limitations. For example, it’s mandatory for EPS files to be compatible with DSC. Once the file is placed in a document, it’s not possible to change it afterwards. Instead, it can only be enlarged, reduced, scaled, or moved.

Opening Encapsulated PostScript with programs

Although the format is outdated, you may need to open an EPS file. Special programs are required for this, but they are available. Paid options include Adobe Photoshop as well as Microsoft Office, Pixelmator, and QuarkXPress. For Windows users, there is also software from Corel that can open EPS files.

Various free programs can also display the EPS file format.

  • macOS: For users who rely on macOS, there’s Apple Preview, EPS Viewer, GIMP, Open Office, Scribus, and XnView, among others.
  • Windows: On a Windows computer, IrfanView can be used to open EPS files, as well as EPS Viewer, Open Office, Scribus, and XnView.
  • Linux: Most of the above free programs are also available for Linux.

How to open an EPS file online

Alternatively, you have the option to open an EPS file online. Providers like Convertio, epsconverter, or OnlineConvert are great options. To start, simply drag the corresponding file into the marked field. The EPS file will then be opened. Alternatively, you can upload the file. Many providers also give you the option to convert the Encapsulated PostScript file directly and save it in another, more common format.

How to convert an EPS file

You can convert EPS files into different formats. You can use the programs mentioned above to convert the data into a JPG or PNG format. These formats can be opened and edited with all popular programs for viewing images. Programs like PDF24 Creator also allow you to convert EPS files into PDF files and save them.

Advantages of the EPS file

Even though the EPS format is not so common anymore, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t offer any advantages. Its mathematical structure makes the format a good choice for branded elements such as images or logos. This is especially true for elements used on websites or in other web applications, where EPS files are easy to customize, optimize, and integrate. EPS files are also excellent for printing. Not only will the print exactly match the digital artwork, but smaller image files can be enlarged and printed without any loss in quality. Here, the vector file has clear advantages over a pixel file, where enlarging an image will come at the expense of sharpness.