CR2 File: The Ultimate Guide to CR2 Files

In a nutshell, photography has become an integral part of our social lives and career paths, including at the workplace. Therefore, it's not surprising to find yourself working on a project involving pictures, especially if you're in the product or marketing department.

On the same note, if you are that person with a huge following on social media networks like Instagram or YouTube, you often post to keep your fans engaged. Right? And every time, you want to give your viewers a reason to anticipate your next post. Or maybe you're just the "photo guy" that helps celebrities with photoshoots and editing. In short, anyone might find themselves working with a CR2 file format, whether for work or personal reasons. So, this article is designed to educate you on how to manipulate this high-quality, but huge-sized file format.

What is a CR2 file?

Canon is a big name out there, at least in the world of photography. For that cause, there was a need to advance their brand awareness by improving on quality, which resulted in the birth of Canon Raw 2 (2nd edition) file format. Generally, the CR2 is the default file format for videos and photos taken by a Canon camera. This file format keeps fine details about the picture, resulting in immense file size compared to other image formats—for instance, the CR2 format stores images with 14 bits of RGB vs. the 8 bits in JPG.

Although the CR2 maintains the original quality, attractiveness, and catch nature of the image, the large size sometimes introduces challenges when you want to open/edit the photo or store multiple of them. However, with a CR2 file viewer and editor software like PaintShop Pro, you can easily open, convert, and manipulate any raw file to your liking.

Are CR2 files dangerous?

Typically, CR2 files aren't dangerous on their own. However, if you're receiving a CR2 file via email or any internet method, be sure they have the file extension ".cr2" before downloading/opening it. This is because cybercriminals might manipulate you to think it's a CR2 file you're opening, when it's a dangerous file in the real sense. For example, you might receive an attachment with a filename like "vacation.cr2.exe". Here, the actual file extension is .exe, which is known for distributing computer viruses.

Additionally, some instances can lead to CR2 getting corrupted, including:

  • Capturing images when the Canon is on low battery.
  • Transferring the images to a PC or storage device that's already infected.
  • Abruptly removing a flash disk or SD card from a PC or smartphone.
  • An unexpected system shut down while processing the photos.

How to open a CR2 file

Both Windows and Mac provide a way you can natively open a CR2 file without installing any other additional software. However, often you'll need to process (edit) the raw format before you can share or print. This is where you need professional photo editing software, like PaintShop Pro.

  • Open CR2 on Windows: Double-click on the file thumbnail to open with your default Windows photo viewer (MS Photos app). Or right-click, then choose Open with > Photos.
  • Open CR2 on Mac: Go to Finder and locate the picture that you want to open. Double click or right-click, then choose Open With > Preview. Also, the native macOS Photos app can open CR2 files.

Open CR2 files using PaintShop Pro

After downloading, configuring, and launching your PaintShop Pro software, you can easily open and even professionally edit your raw images. To open:

  1. Go to File > Open.
  2. Navigate to the folder where the image is stored and double-click on the RAW image thumbnail.
  3. To open multiple images, hold down CTRL or Command and choose all the pictures you want to open.
  4. After clicking OK, the Camera Raw Lab dialog box will let you adjust the raw image settings accordingly.

With PaintShop Pro, you can animate, transform, adjust other photo settings like contrast, light, etc. and finally save your image with a friendlier file format like JPG, JPEG, or PNG.


Sometimes you might be tempted to save your Canon shots using another file format other than the CR2 for fear of trouble when opening or editing. However, that shouldn't be an issue anymore, since professional photo editing software like PaintShop Pro has got you back on that.

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