Stupid Geek Tricks: How to Turn Images and Photos Into Sound Files

By Eric Z Goodnight on November 2nd, 2011

sound from images

There may be no point to it… it must be a stupid geek trick! Here’s how you can convert some of your images into sound files and hear what your photographs are secretly saying to you.

Maybe you’re an electronic music composer looking for a new source of samples. Maybe you’re just a geek looking to goof around with some image files! In hardly no time at all, you can convert your images into weird unpredictable sounds, just for the heck of it. Give it a shot!

Converting Your Images With Audacity

sshot-123

We’ve covered Audacity on How To Geek before. It’s a great open source tool for editing sound… but what about images? If you don’t have Audacity installed, you’re going to need it in order to convert your images.

sshot-122

This screenshot is the image file we’re going to be experimenting with today. We’ve saved it in several different formats to see what audacity will do with them.

sshot-132

PNG and GIF didn’t work for us,  but your mileage may vary—although the format of the image is likely the most important factor in opening the file in the sound editor. The formats that worked for us (all converted in Photoshop) were TIFF, BMP, PSD, PSB (another proprietary Photoshop format), High Quality JPG, and Low Quality JPG.

Update: Remember when you’re trying your own files that the program you’re converting with can be very important. We used Photoshop, but try the GIMP as well, and try multiple files. Not every file we tried worked, although all of these conversions of the screenshots did work.

sshot-133

Start by going to File > Open in Audacity.

sshot-135

Make sure your filetype is set to “All Files” as shown above bottom right. Pick one of your image files and simply open it. See our weird results.

WARNING: If you choose to download or listen to the linked WAV files, make sure your speakers are at managable levels. Some of the sounds are high frequency and a little loud.

sshot-126

JPG Low Quality. Listen here.

sshot-127

JPG High Quality. Listen here.

sshot-128

TIFF image. Listen here.

sshot-129

BMP—in two sound channels! Listen here.

sshot-130

Photoshop PSD. Listen here.

sshot-131

Photoshop PSB. File seems identical. Listen here.


Another stupid geek trick from HTG to goof around with. Have fun! If you happen to get anything interesting from your Image to Sound file conversions, save them as WAV or MP3 and send them to ericgoodnight@howtogeek.com, and we’ll share our favorites with our readers.

Image credit: Employee Photo Day by Grant Hutchinson, available under Creative Commons.

Eric Z Goodnight is an Illustrator and Stetson-wearing wild man. During the day, he manages IT and product development for screenprinted apparel manufacturing; by night he creates geek art posters, writes JavaScript, and records weekly podcasts about comics.

  • Published 11/2/11
More Articles You Might Like

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!