What Everyone Should Know About File Extensions

File Extensions

When it comes to file extensions, a lot of questions arise. In this article, you will discover answers to common questions regarding Windows file extension. What is a file extension? This is the concept to understand how Windows or any other operating system manage various files. Experienced users of computers have a clear understanding about file extensions, while average users feel lost in a bit. This information will help you stop feeling confused by file extensions and all their functions. Microsoft has made quite an unfortunate decision to hide file extensions in Windows default settings. In fact, file extensions play a very important role in the way how your operating system deals with various types of files.

Below, you will find the most frequent questions asked by many C users. After reading this section, you will have a better understanding why we need file extensions. Your gap in better understanding the way Windows works will vanished. Your work with PC will become more efficient and safe.

What do we call file extensions?

You might have noticed that every name of your file has a special period which is followed by certain characters. Let’s say your file has the name “”. In this example “docx” if your file extension. It is interesting to know, when people were using DOC operating system, the number of characters in file extensions were strictly limited to three characters. Modern Windows versions have a big variety of file extensions, but most of them still have only from three to four characters.

Why do all file names require extensions?

File names require certain extensions in order to tell the operating system, such as Windows, exactly what type of file has been involved. Windows Registry has a big list of file extensions. Every time when you click a file, Windows consults its Registry in order to understand what to do with the clicked file. In this Registry list, Windows checks all possible actions which should be performed by the software. In case Windows could not file your file extension, it will send you a message asking how you want to open your file.

How can you check what exactly file extension you have on your file name?

You will need to change the default settings of Windows in order to make file extensions visible. The procedure is very simple. If you use Windows 8.1, you will just need to open “File Explorer” and press the tab “View”. Finally, just put a check in “File name extension” box.

What is the overall number of file extension?

In fact, there are thousands of file extensions. This number does not stop to increase. If you face some problems with opening your files due to unknown extensions, you can find a needed program or any kind of professional help.

What can happen when I change the name of my file extension?

It is not recommended to change the name of your file extension. The problem is by changing the name you may use a wrong software for opening your file and most probably you will receive an error message or your file will be triggered.

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Paul Tomaszewski is a science & tech writer as well as a programmer and entrepreneur. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of CosmoBC. He has a degree in computer science from John Abbott College, a bachelor's degree in technology from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, and completed some business and economics classes at Concordia University in Montreal. While in college he was the vice-president of the Astronomy Club. In his spare time he is an amateur astronomer and enjoys reading or watching science-fiction. You can follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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