PNG -- Portable Network Graphics

Driver short name


Driver built-in by default

internal libpng provided

GDAL includes support for reading, and creating .png files. Greyscale, pseudo-colored, Paletted, RGB and RGBA PNG files are supported as well as precisions of eight and sixteen bits per sample.

The GDAL PNG Driver is built using the libpng library. Also note that the GeoTIFF driver supports tiled TIFF with DEFLATE compressed tiles, which is the same compression algorithm that PNG at its core uses.

PNG files are linearly compressed, so random reading of large PNG files can be very inefficient (resulting in many restarts of decompression from the start of the file). The maximum dimension of a PNG file that can be created by GDAL is set to 1,000,000x1,000,000 pixels by libpng.

Text chunks are translated into metadata, typically with multiple lines per item. WLD -- ESRI World File with the extensions of .pgw, .pngw or .wld will be read. Single transparency values in greyscale files will be recognised as a nodata value in GDAL. Transparent index in paletted images are preserved when the color table is read.

PNG files can be created with a type of PNG, using the CreateCopy() method, requiring a prototype to read from. Writing includes support for the various image types, and will preserve transparency/nodata values. Georeferencing .wld files are written if creation option WORLDFILE is set. All pixel types other than 16bit unsigned will be written as eight bit.

XMP metadata can be extracted from the file, and will be stored as XML raw content in the xml:XMP metadata domain.

Driver capabilities

Supports CreateCopy()

This driver supports the GDALDriver::CreateCopy() operation

Supports Georeferencing

This driver supports georeferencing

Supports VirtualIO

This driver supports virtual I/O operations (/vsimem/, etc.)

Color Profile Metadata

GDAL can deal with the following color profile metadata in the COLOR_PROFILE domain:

  • SOURCE_ICC_PROFILE (Base64 encoded ICC profile embedded in file. If available, other tags are ignored.)

  • SOURCE_ICC_PROFILE_NAME : ICC profile name. sRGB is recognized as a special value.

  • SOURCE_PRIMARIES_RED (xyY in "x,y,1" format for red primary.)

  • SOURCE_PRIMARIES_GREEN (xyY in "x,y,1" format for green primary)

  • SOURCE_PRIMARIES_BLUE (xyY in "x,y,1" format for blue primary)

  • SOURCE_WHITEPOINT (xyY in "x,y,1" format for whitepoint)


Note that these metadata properties can only be used on the original raw pixel data. If automatic conversion to RGB has been done, the color profile information cannot be used.

All these metadata tags can be used as creation options. Creation options can be specified in command-line tools using the syntax -co <NAME>=<VALUE> or by providing the appropriate arguments to GDALCreate() (C) or Driver.Create (Python). The following creation options are available:

  • WORLDFILE=[YES/NO]: Defaults to NO. Force the generation of an associated ESRI world file (with the extension .wld). See World File section for details.

  • ZLEVEL=n=[1-9]: Defaults to 6. Set the amount of time to spend on compression. A value of 1 is fast but does no compression, and a value of 9 is slow but does the best compression.

  • TITLE=value: Title, written in a TEXT or iTXt chunk

  • DESCRIPTION=value: Description, written in a TEXT or iTXt chunk

  • COMMENT=value: Comment, written in a TEXT or iTXt chunk

  • WRITE_METADATA_AS_TEXT=[YES/NO]: Whether to write source dataset metadata in TEXT chunks

  • NBITS=[1/2/4]: Force number of output bits

NOTE: Implemented as pngdataset.cpp.

PNG support is implemented based on the libpng reference library. More information is available at