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Note: A new GRASS GIS stable version has been released: GRASS GIS 7, available here. And see the new manual page here


r.out.gdal - Exports GRASS raster maps into GDAL supported formats.


raster, export


r.out.gdal help
r.out.gdal [-lcf] [input=name] [format=string] [type=string] [output=name] [createopt=string[,string,...]] [metaopt=string[,string,...]] [nodata=float] [--verbose] [--quiet]


List supported output formats
Do not write GDAL standard colortable
Only applicable to Byte or UInt16 data types.
Force raster export despite any warnings of data loss
Overrides nodata safety check.
Verbose module output
Quiet module output


Name of raster map (or group) to export
GIS format to write (case sensitive, see also -l flag)
Default: GTiff
File type
Options: Byte,Int16,UInt16,Int32,UInt32,Float32,Float64,CInt16,CInt32,CFloat32,CFloat64
Name for output raster file
Creation option(s) to pass to the output format driver
In the form of "NAME=VALUE", separate multiple entries with a comma
Metadata key(s) and value(s) to include
In the form of "META-TAG=VALUE", separate multiple entries with a comma. Not supported by all output format drivers.
Assign a specified nodata value to output bands


r.out.gdal allows a user to export a GRASS raster map layer into any GDAL supported raster map format. If a GRASS raster map is exported for a particular application, the application's native format would be preferrable. GeoTIFF is supported by a wide range of applications (see also NOTES on GeoTIFF below).

To specify multiple creation options use a comma separated list (createopt="TFW=YES,COMPRESS=DEFLATE").

For possible createopt and metaopt parameters please consult the individual supported formats pages on the GDAL website. The createopt parameter may be used to create TFW or World files ("TFW=YES","WORLDFILE=ON").

r.out.gdal also supports the export of multiband rasters as a group, when the imagery group's name is entered as input. (created imagery groups with the module)

As with most GRASS raster modules, the current region extents and region resolution are used, and a MASK is respected if present. Use g.region's "align=", or "rast=" options if you need to realign the region settings to match the original map's before export.


The set of supported raster formats written by r.out.gdal depends on the local GDAL installation. Available may be (incomplete list):

  AAIGrid: Arc/Info ASCII Grid
  BMP: MS Windows Device Independent Bitmap
  BSB: Maptech BSB Nautical Charts
  DTED: DTED Elevation Raster
  ENVI: ENVI .hdr Labelled
  FIT: FIT Image
  GIF: Graphics Interchange Format (.gif)
  GTiff: GeoTIFF
  HDF4Image: HDF4 Dataset
  HFA: Erdas Imagine Images (.img)
  JPEG2000: JPEG-2000 part 1 (ISO/IEC 15444-1)
  MEM: In Memory Raster
  MFF2: Atlantis MFF2 (HKV) Raster
  MFF: Atlantis MFF Raster
  NITF: National Imagery Transmission Format
  PAux: PCI .aux Labelled
  PCIDSK: PCIDSK Database File
  PNG: Portable Network Graphics
  PNM: Portable Pixmap Format (netpbm)
  VRT: Virtual Raster
  XPM: X11 PixMap Format


Out of the GDAL data types, the closest match for GRASS CELL, FCELL and DCELL rasters are respectively Int32, Float32 and Float64. These are not exact equivalents, but they will preserve the maximum possible data range and number of decimal places for each respective GRASS raster data type. Please keep in mind that not all CELL rasters will require Int32 - e.g., 0-255 CELL raster are covered by the Byte type as well. Moreover, some GDAL-supported formats do not support all the data types possible in GDAL and GRASS. Use to check the data type and range for your GRASS raster, refer to specific format documentation (on the GDAL website), format vendor's documentation, and e.g. the Wikipedia article Typical boundaries of primitive integral types for details.

Ranges of GDAL data types

  GDAL data type	       minimum  	maximum

  Byte  			     0  	    255
  UInt16			     0  	 65,535
  Int16, CInt16 	       -32,768  	 32,767
  UInt32			     0    4,294,967,295
  Int32, CInt32 	-2,147,483,648    2,147,483,647
  Float32, CFloat32	       -3.4E38  	 3.4E38
  Float64, CFloat64	     -1.79E308         1.79E308

If there is a need to keep file sizes small, use the simplest data type covering the data range of the raster(s) to be exported, e.g., if suitable use Byte rather than UInt16; use Int16 rather than Int32; or use Float32 rather than Float64. In addition, the COMPRESS createopt used can have a very large impact on the size of the output file.

Some software may not recognize all of the compression methods available for a given file format, and certain compression methods may only be supported for certain data types (depends on vendor and version).

If the export settings are set such that data loss would occur in the output file (i.e, due to the particular choice of data type and/or file type), the normal behaviour of r.out.gdal in this case would be to issue an error message describing the problem and exit without exporting. The -f flag allows raster export even if some of the data loss tests are not passed, and warnings are issued instead of errors.

r.out.gdal exports may appear all black or gray on initial display in other GIS software. This is not a bug of r.out.gdal, but often caused by the default color table assigned by that software. The default color table may be grayscale covering the whole range of possible values which is very large for e.g. Int32 or Float32. E.g. stretching the color table to actual min/max would help (sometimes under symbology).

GeoTIFF caveats

GeoTIFF exports can only be displayed by standard image viewers if the GDAL data type was set to Byte and the GeoTIFF contains either one or three bands. All other data types and numbers of bands can be properly read with GIS software only. Although GeoTIFF files usually have a .tif extension, these files are not necessarily images but first of all spatial raster datasets, e.g. SRTM DEM version 4.

When writing out multi-band GeoTIFF images for users of ESRI software or ImageMagick, the interleaving mode should be set to "pixel" using createopt="INTERLEAVE=PIXEL". BAND interleaving is slightly more efficient, but not supported by some applications. This issue only arises when writing out multi-band imagery groups.

Improving GeoTIFF compatibility

To create a GeoTIFF that is highly compatible with various other GIS software packages, it is recommended to keep the GeoTIFF file as simple as possible. You will have to experiment with which options your software is compatible with, as this varies widely between vendors and versions. Long term, the less metadata you have to remove the more self-documenting (and useful) the dataset will be.

Here are some things to try:


Export the integer raster basin_50K map to GeoTIFF format:

g.region rast=basin_50K -p
r.out.gdal input=basin_50K output=basin_50K.tif type=UInt16

Export a DCELL raster map in GeoTIFF format suitable for ESRI software:

g.region rast=elevation -p
r.out.gdal in=elevation output=elevation.tif  type=Float64 \

Export a raster map in "Deflate" compressed GeoTIFF format:

g.region rast=elevation -p
r.out.gdal in=elevation output=elevation.tif  type=Float64 \

Export R,G,B imagery bands in GeoTIFF format suitable for ESRI software: group=nc_landsat_rgb input=lsat7_2002_30,lsat7_2002_20,lsat7_2002_10
g.region rast=lsat7_2002_30 -p
r.out.gdal in=nc_landsat_rgb output=nc_landsat_rgb.tif type=Byte \

Export the floating point raster elevation map to ERDAS/IMG format:

g.region rast=elevation -p
r.out.gdal input=elevation output=elelevation.img format=HFA type=Float32

Export group of image maps as multi-band file

g.list group group=tm7 subgroup=tm7 input=tm7_10,tm7_20,tm7_30,tm7_40,tm7_50,tm7_60,tm7_70 -l tm7
g.region rast=tm7_10 -p
r.out.gdal tm7 output=lsat_multiband.tif
gdalinfo lsat_multiband.tif



The GDAL supported formats page.
r.out.ascii, r.out.arc, r.out.bin, r.out.mat, r.out.png, r.out.ppm, r.out.tiff
(old shell script version using gdal_translate)


GDAL Pages:


Vytautas Vebra (oliver4grass at
Markus Metz (improved nodata logic)

Last changed: $Date: 2014-09-15 00:11:50 -0700 (Mon, 15 Sep 2014) $

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