A metafile is a collection of structures that store a picture in a device-independent format. Device independence is the one feature that sets metafiles apart from bitmaps. Unlike a bitmap, a metafile guarantees device independence. There is a drawback to metafiles however, they are generally drawn more slowly than bitmaps. Therefore, if an application requires fast drawing and device independence is not an issue, it should use bitmaps instead of metafiles.

For information about bitmaps, see Bitmaps.