GIF, JPG, TXT, DOC,
HTML, WAV, BMP, ETC
You'll see them over
and over again as you encounter manuals, web sites,
and anything related to your computer. Tons of file
extensions. Whole pickup truck loads of 'em running
back and forth on the info highway.
File extensions are
easy enough to understand, and with just a bit of
history, you'll know everything you need to know
about files, and not a bit more.
Back in the DOS days
(DOS stands for Disk Operating System), before the invention of
Windows, every file had to be named with a maximum of
and could include a three letter "file
For example, lets say you want to save
that recipe for Quevos Rancheros. You were
forced to use a maximum of 8 characters. So you call
it queranch. Hmm, in Spanish, that's like,
"What ranch?" Or that's a loose
translation, at least.
limited. Severely. So along comes the long file name.
You can use a whole mess of characters now, calling
your file "My greatest recipe using eggs and
tortillas since the invention of the wheel."
The sentence between the quote marks is
the name of the file, or "filename."
The stated character
limit is 255, but in reality it comes in just a tad
under, like 253 or something. The techies can quibble
over that. Regardless, it's
And more than adequate to describe the content of
Now, notice that
many files have extensions. They all do, really. In
fact, your computer doesn't know what to do with a
file if it doesn't have an extension.
The extension is the
three letter part following the main name. (You
didn't see an extension on my quevos rancheros
example, because I left it off.) Here's an example:
Word processing report.doc
".doc" part of the file's name tells
Windows to use the program that's associated with .doc
files to open it. So, let's say you've got Microsoft
Word installed. Whenever the Windows operating system
realizes you've clicked a file with the extension
".doc" it fires up Word, and Word opens the
are lots of file extensions. Here's a table for
you that includes a few common file types you
during your web
File, such as Notepad produces
File, for exampe, MS Word
Interchange Format (graphics)
Photographic Experts Group (graphics)
Markup (special coded text files)
Markup Language (ditto)
file requiring special software to decompress
as zip. Just another compression style
Document File (universal text file)
try to open a file extension that's unregistered
(unregistered means Windows doesn't know what to do with
it 'cause there's no association in the Windows
Windows throws the Open With dialog box at
dialog box lets you decide what program to open the file
with. For example, I tried to open the file named
'java.usj' and I got this screen as a result. Since
nothing on my computer is set up to edit or open a '.usj' file, I have to locate and
use a program
that "understands" that type of file
extension. Now that's another trick altogether!
people will send Power Point presentation files or
Microsoft Publisher files as attachments to people who
don't have Microsoft Office installed on their
computer. So those files cannot be viewed unless the
appropriate software is installed.
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