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The DirectDraw Surface graphics file format was established by Microsoft for use with the DirectX SDK. The format is specifically designed for use in real-time rendering applications, such as 3D games. It can be used to store textures, cubemaps, mipmap levels, and allows for compression. Due to the fact that most video cards natively support DXTn texture compression, use of this format can save memory on the video card.

Drivers can perform this compression on the fly thanks to the GL_ARB_texture_compression extension. Thus, it would appear the only advantage of DDS is just reduced space (meaning faster loading) without "double degradation" caused by recompressing already-compressed formats like JPEG. However, DDS files expose this automated process to artists. This allows the image author to correct or prevent artifacts that might occur in a completely automated compression process, or even emphasize specific parts of an image's MIP maps.

* File Format Specifications
Extension *.DDS
Compression None, DXTn
Color Depth 1- to 32-bits

Software Location



  • DDS Thumbnail Viewer - Allows you to view .dds files in Thumbnail view in the Windows Explorer.
  • Windows Texture Viewer - WTV was developed by Tomas Blaho for simple DDS viewing, especially for those DDS files with an alpha channel.

See Also

DDS Export Settings

Texture Formats