TIF images are limited to 4 GB, but BigTIFF images are created for larger file sizes in Esri software

Last Published: October 10, 2023

Error Message

The size limit for a standard TIFF image is 4 GB. A TIFF image larger than that will be saved in Esri software as a BigTIFF.

In 2004, BigTIFF was founded which changed the offset value as a 64-bit integer (8 bytes) that extends the theoretical maximum file size to 18,000 PB (petabytes).

This format may return errors in some applications in which it is not supported.  See examples below.


The BigTIFF format, which creates raster images larger than 4 GB, is not supported in some applications, such as AutoDesk products or Windows Photo Viewer.

AutoDesk applications return the following error message:

This file cannot be opened.

The problem can be caused by several things:
- The data in the file is corrupted
- The file is in an earlier format that is no longer supported
- The file format is not supported

Try to obtain a better copy of the file, recreate the file using different settings, or convert the file to a supported format.

AutoCAD file error

The image below shows the following error returned by the Windows Photo Viewer:

Windows Photo Viewer can't open this picture because the file appears to be damaged, corrupted, or is too large.

Windows Photo Viewer file error

Solution or Workaround

The workaround for the issue is clipping the BigTIFF to sections that are less than 4 GB.

Article ID:000031365

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