What Are WAV & WAVE Files?

How to Open, Edit, & Convert a WAV or WAVE File

WAV Files
WAV Files.

A file with the .WAV or .WAVE file extension is a Waveform Audio file. This is a standard audio format seen mainly on Windows computers. WAV files are usually uncompressed but compression is supported.

Uncompressed WAV files are larger than other popular audio formats, like MP3, so they're typically not used as the preferred audio format when sharing online or buying music, but instead for things like audio editing software, operating system functions, and video games.

WAV is an extension of the bitstream format Resource Interchange File Format (RIFF) which you can read a lot more about at soundfile.sapp.org. WAV is similar to AIFF and 8SVX files, both of which are more commonly seen on Mac operating systems.

How To Open a WAV/WAVE File

WAV files can be opened with Windows Media Player, VLC, iTunes, QuickTime, Microsoft Groove MusicWinamp, Clementine, XMMS, and very likely some other popular media player applications as well.

Note: It's highly unlikely that your .WAV or .WAVE file is something other than an audio file, but it's possible that it could be saved in a different format but with one of those file extensions.To test this, open the WAV or WAVE file in Notepad++ to view it as a text document.

If the first entry you see is "RIFF," then your WAV/WAVE file is an audio file that should open with one of those programs listed above. If it doesn't, then your particular file may be corrupt (try downloading or copying it again).

If the text reads something else, or you know for sure it's not an audio file, one thing you can do is try to look for another word or phrase in the file that might help start your search for what type of file it might be.

In the highly unlikely situation where your WAV file is just a text document, which would be the case if the text is readable and not gibberish, then any text editor can be used to open and read the file.

Considering all number of audio player programs out there, and that it's very likely you have more than one installed right now, you may find that one program automatically opens WAV and WAVE files when you actually would prefer a different do it. If that's true, see my How To Change File Associations in Windows tutorial for help doing that.

How To Convert a WAV/WAVE File

WAV files are best converted to other audio formats (like MP3, AAC, FLAC, OGG, M4A, M4B, M4R, etc.) with one of these Free Audio Converter Software Programs.

If you have iTunes installed, you can convert WAV to MP3 without having to download any extra software. See how to do this at the Apple Support website.

Some other free file converters that support converting a WAV file to another format are FileZigZag and Zamzar. These are online converters, which means you have to upload the WAV file to the website, have it converted, and then download it back to your computer. This method is great for smaller WAV files.

More Information on WAV & WAVE Files

This file format can not hold files that exceed 4 GB in size, and some software programs may even restrict this further, to 2 GB.

Some WAV files are actually used to store non-audio data, such as signal forms called waveforms.