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File Format
Name FreeHand
Extension(s) .fh3, .fh4, .fh5, .fh7, .fh8, .fh9, .fh10, .fh11
PRONOM x-fmt/303, x-fmt/304, x-fmt/53, fmt/544, fmt/545, fmt/546, fmt/547, fmt/400
Type Code AGD1
Released 1988

FreeHand (Adobe FreeHand, Macromedia FreeHand, Aldus FreeHand; it went through several owners) is a now-discontinued vector graphic editor for Windows and Mac. Its native file format is a proprietary one that does not appear to have ever been publicly documented; however, somebody apparently reverse-engineered it to create the libfreehand library to process it. As this library is open-source, examining the sources will probably give some insights into the file structure.

Files are found in a number of extensions (and, for Mac versions, often with no extension at all), but the most common extensions are 'fh' followed by a version number, such as .fh10 for FreeHand 10.



Aldus FreeHand versions 1 & 2 were Macintosh only, so no official extensions are used.

For FreeHand 7, 8, and 9, the first four bytes of the file will spell (in ASCII), AGD2, AGD3, and AGD4 respectively. In FreeHand 10, the text "FreeHand10" is within the first 24 bytes. Some other versions possibly also have "FreeHand" followed by a version number somewhere in the early part of the file. Also in early FreeHand formats LZW compression was used, so some files may have "ALDUS LZW" for the first few bytes.

Version Extension Year Header PRONOM Opens
1 1988 acf3 fmt/1449
2 1988 FHD2 fmt/1450
3 FH3 1991 FH31 x-fmt/303
4 FH4 1994 AGD1 x-fmt/304
4 & 5 FH5 1995 AGD1 x-fmt/53
7 FH7 1996 AGD2 fmt/544
8 FH8 1998 AGD3 fmt/545 FH3-8
9 FH9 2000 AGD4 fmt/546 FH5-9
10 FH10 2001 FreeHand10 fmt/547
11 (MX) FH11 2003 FreeHand11 fmt/400

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