What Type of Files Does an iPhone Use?

By Ashley Poland

The file types used on the iPhone can be viewed and accessed on any computer.
i Dustin Bradford/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

The iPhone has become a central part of our computing life; we use it to rent videos, show off cat pictures and listen to music. The iPhone uses certain file types when it creates content, and recognizes many more file types beyond those defaults. If you have files that aren't recognized by your iPhone, you can usually convert them in iTunes.

Audio on the iPhone

Whether you're buying music on iTunes or loading up your local music collection, knowing what audio you can use on the iPhone saves time and hassle. Music purchased in iTunes comes as unprotected AAC files; Apple discontinued the use of DRM on iTunes tracks in 2009. Music you purchased from the iTunes Store before 2009 will have Apple's FairPlay DRM. If you're using the voice recorder app on your iPhone, recordings can use either WAV files or Apple Lossless audio files (ALAC).

Video on the iPhone

When recording videos on the iPhone, the files are saved as H.264 QuickTime files. These use the MOV file format. Videos purchased in the iTunes store come in M4V format, with "FairPlay digital rights management" built in. Videos purchased via iTunes are designed specifically to play on iOS devices, as well as in iTunes on your computer.

Photos on the iPhone

When you take a photo on the iPhone, it saves the photo as a JPG file. While the default Camera app allows you to change some of your photo settings, it does not support changing the photo file type. With other camera apps -- such as Camera+ or 645 Pro -- you have to option to save in other file types.

Documents on the iPhone

You can also view documents on your iPhone. The iBooks e-reading application supports EPUB and PDF files; you can purchase books on your iPhone, or transfer documents from your computer using iTunes. You can also use your iPhone to view DOC/DOCX, RTF, TXT, PPT/PPTX and XLS/XLSX documents. Via Safari you can view HTML pages. The iPhone can also read vCard (VCF) information, and manage ZIP files.

Supported File Types

The iPhone supports more file types than the ones it uses by default. In addition to AAC, protected AAC and ALAC audio formats, you can play MP3, WAV and Audible files on the iPhone. Video formats that use H.264 and MPEG-4 video with AAC audio are supported in the video apps. This includes MP4, M4V, MOV and M-JPEG. JPG, GIF and TIFF images are all supported as well.