Which File Format does not Support Layers?

Are you a newbie photo editor facing issues in editing images of a certain kind? Are your images also not showing layers or supporting transparency when uploaded on editing software? Then worry not because specific files don’t support this kind of editing. And in this article, we will throw light on Which file format does not support layers?

Which file format does not support layers?

There are several formats like TIFF, PNG, and even PSD that support transparency and layers. However, there is just one format called JPEG or JPG that doesn’t support it in any editor out there.

Why is that the case? Why does JPEG or JPG not support layering? Well, there is an excellent answer to that. But before diving into it, let’s understand how layering works in the field of editing.

So that you get a comprehensive idea of how it works and how only specific files can support it.

What is layer or transparency in editing? How does it work?

Everyone knows that images comprise different elements that make them appear visually appealing. And all these elements are added to one image on several levels of edit.

Hence, every separate element has its own identity, and that is what we call a layer.

These layers are seldom called transparency as well because other than the element, the layer in itself is transparent and doesn’t hinder other elements at all. Hence, they have become an integral part of editing in today’s day and age.

xRes by Fauve Software, was the first application that allowed layer editing. It was a game changer at that time, as it revolutionized how an image could be manipulated to fulfil a particular requirement.

This software was soon followed by Adobe Photoshop in 1994, and the rest is history.

Today, there are different software available in the market. They allow you to access various layers to alter your image completely. For example, a text layer will enable you to add text to any image you want.

This has eased the creation process of banners, invitations, and other print media requiring text on top of images. Further, an adjustment layer allows you to change the Brightness, Hues/saturation, and even the color balance of your image.

In short, Layers have changed the complexion of image editing.

Now with that being said, let’s return to the original question that you need an answer to, which file format does not support layers?

File format that does not support layers?

A JPG or JPEG file, which stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, is an exception that does not support layers in any photo editing software. The file was initially launched in 1996 and, over the years, has become a very commonly used file. 

This popularity is owed to the features like efficient storage and compression of realistic images that the JPG format provides.

In fact, such is the excellent quality of JPG that people often refer to it as a “highly compressed photograph.” It even allows the option of choosing the level of compression so that you can manage the image quality and size according to your usage.

Now you must be thinking, if this file has so many qualities, then why doesn’t it support layers? The answer to this question is masked in the color space that the JPG format uses.

If you are familiar with this format, you may already know that JPG uses RGB. However, that is not enough to support transparency. For a file to have layers or transparency, it must support Alpha in colors.

The best example of this is PNG files; they have an RGBA color space where R is red, G is green, B is blue, and A is alpha. 

Alpha is the quality that showcases whether an image can be transparent or not. An image file with Alpha 1 is totally opaque, while 0 Alpha means it is transparent. Similarly, the absence of Alpha from the file indicates that it doesn’t support layer or transparency. 

Since the JPG format lacks Alpha in its color space, it cannot support transparency.


We hope that this ends your quest to find the reason why specific files do not support layer or transparency. JPG or JPEG might be the best format out there for storing images, but they need to do better when it comes to transparency. 

Although that doesn’t mean that your images are useless, you can still make the most of your JPG images by converting them into PNGs or other formats that support transparency.


What is the difference between JPG and JPEG?

JPGs and JPEGs are in the same file format. JPG and JPEG both stand for Joint Photographic Experts Group and are both raster image file types.

The only reason JPG is three characters long as opposed to four is that early versions of Windows required a three-letter extension for file names.

Why is opacity called Alpha?

Alpha is the channel or value that determines the opacity of an image. When a view is fully opaque, this means its alpha = 1; when a view is fully transparent (non-opaque) its alpha = 0.