OBJ File Extension – What is .obj File and How to Open It?

Would you like to know what a .obj file is and how to open it? An OBJ file is a standard 3D image file format that can be imported and exported by various programs designed to manipulate 3D images.

This file format contains information concerning a three-dimensional object, such as 3D coordinates, texture maps, polygonal faces, and other features.

There may also be references to one or more .MTL files contain the object’s surface shading material within the OBJ file.

This article will explain an OBJ file, how to open it, convert it, and OBJ vs. other 3D file formats.

What is a .obj File, and How to Open It?

What is an OBJ File?

An OBJ file contains information about a 3D model, which is very simple to understand. Wavefront Technologies initially designed it for the Advanced Visualizer application, which stores geometric objects such as lines, polygons, curves, and surfaces that are in free form.

As a result, OBJ files can encode not only the surface geometry of a 3D model but also its color and texture characteristics.

Despite this, no information about the scene, including light positions or animations, is stored in this format.

As an end product of the 3D modeling process, an OBJ file is usually generated by Computer Aided Design (CAD) software. OBJ files are typically formatted with the β€œ.OBJ” extension.

An OBJ file is an open-source, neutral file format. This format is often used for sharing 3D models in graphics applications since it can be imported and exported from almost all CAD software.

It has also become widely used in recent years as a file format for multi-color 3D printing due to the absence of color and texture information supported by STL, the otherwise standard format for 3D printing.

How to Open an OBJ File?

The OBJ file format can be opened using a wide range of free and commercial software. Examples of these .obj file viewers include Microsoft 3D Builder, Apple Preview, and Autodesk Maya.

To select the correct program, you should consider the context in which you will use the OBJ file. For example, if you need to open and modify a 3D object used for special effects in a film, you could use Blender software.

When using Windows without the appropriate software, you will receive a message stating, β€œHow would you like to open this file?” or β€œWindows cannot open this file,” or a similar message on a Mac, iPhone, or Android device.

Follow these steps to open your OBJ file correctly:

  1. Right-click or long-press on the file.
  2. Click on the Open with option and choose an application.

You can also display an OBJ file directly in the browser by dragging and dropping the file onto the browser window.

How to Open an OBJ File in a Text Editor?

OBJ files are saved in plain text, which means they can be opened with text editors such as Microsoft Notepad on Windows, Apple TextEdit on Mac, or a source code editor.

For the text editor to recognize the .obj file, it may be necessary to rename the extension to .txt. If you open the OBJ file in a text or source code editor, you can modify its properties.

It is important to remember that if you edit the file incorrectly, you may inadvertently corrupt it.

How to Convert an OBJ File?

A wide variety of CAD applications and image editors, including Microsoft 3D Builder, Autodesk Maya Blender, Apple Preview, and Adobe Photoshop, can convert OBJ files to other formats. You will need appropriate software, such as 3ds MAX, to open an OBJ file.

Among .obj file converters, Microsoft 3D Builder converts OBJ files to these formats: .3MF – 3D Manufacturing File, .STL – Stereolithography File, .PLY – Polygon Model File, .GLTF – GL Transmission Format, and .GLB – Binary GL Transmission Format.

OBJ vs. Other 3D File Formats

In addition to OBJ, there is a wide variety of other 3D file formats. Here are some of the most popular formats:

STL File Format:

This is a proprietary format used by CAD software for 3D printing, computer-aided manufacturing, or CAM, and for data exchange between the two, STL being the most commonly used 3D format.

While the format has a large ecosystem, it does not support color or texture information. High-resolution objects will cause the file size to be huge. The name of the format comes from the word STereoLithography.

COLLOADA File Format:

Since it can support scenes and animations, this format is frequently used in games and animations. ISO has adopted this format as its standard.

This file structure is complex, but it is not updated very frequently. The name comes from the COLLAborative Design Process.

FBX File Format:

The FBX file format is used to exchange high-fidelity data between software applications. FBX files can contain scenes and animations. The FBX format is a proprietary format derived from FilmBox.

X3D File Format:

X3D is used for the creation of 3D web graphics and supports a variety of encoding languages. ISO has also adopted this format. The name is an acronym for eXtensible 3D.

VRML File Format:

In the past, an obsolete standard used for 3D web graphics had been used on the web but has now been replaced by the X3D standard. The name comes from the Virtual Reality Modeling Language.

AMF File Format:

This file format is used in additive manufacturing processes, such as 3D printing. ISO has adopted an AMF standard. This name is derived from the format of Additive Manufacturing File format.

3MF File Format:

A 3MF file contains data in auxiliary files in other formats and is used for 3D printing. This name derives from the 3D Manufacturing Format.

gITF File Format:

This is a valuable file format when dealing with 3D scenes and models with small file sizes that can be loaded quickly. As the name implies, it is derived from GL Transmission Format.

IGS File Format:

It is a cross-platform ASCII vector graphics format compatible with various CAD software.

This specification is known as the Initial Graphics Exchange Specification. It was developed in collaboration with the US Air Force.

JSON File Format:

Generally used for web applications, this is an open standard file format. The JSON acronym stands for JavaScript Object Notation.


This article has explained an OBJ file, how to open it, convert it, and OBJ vs. other 3D file formats.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. In the comments section, you may submit your comments or questions.

Our Facebook and Twitter pages are regularly updated with new content, so follow us to stay updated.

Leave a Reply