If you are new to computers and wondering what application to use to open a particular file, the first thing you should do is check the file extension of the file. A file extension can be found at the end of the name of the file. Usually it is three characters long but in some cases, can even extend up to five characters long.
Typically, a file extension is separated from the file name by a period – for example, in file1.txt, file1 refers to the name of the file while .txt is its file extension. The main use of file extensions is to understand the type of application that can open the file.
Every passing day witnesses thousands of applications being produced and marketed online. Among the multitude of products, it is really hard to search for and locate one product that would be able to open a specific file. Therefore, it is necessary to create an identity for your file so that Windows can easily understand the nature of the file and be able to open it with the relevant application.
You will definitely not be able to memorize and associate every file extension with the corresponding application. But as you accustom yourself to computers, you will find that you automatically remember the most important and frequently used extensions. For instance, .exe is an application file and .doc is a word processor file.
Assume that you have a file called ABC and you need to open the file. With a million applications, the probability of you landing on the right application is marginal even with a thousand applications performing the same function and with the capacity to open the file. But if you have the file extension like ABC.txt, you know that it is a text file. Even if you do not, a simple Internet search will give you the answer to the questions Windows does not know.
There are some important things that you will need to know about file extensions. Sometimes, the operating system may ask you to choose the right application to open a specific type of file. In these cases, it is best to refer to the Internet for a file extension definition and get a list of different applications that can be used for opening the file.
Windows can be configured to show file extensions only for files which are not understood by the computer. These may be advantageous in some cases because since the file extension is editable, you might accidentally change it making it impossible to open. On the other hand, if you consider that most hackers gain entry into your computer by faking file extensions, you might try to open a file called ABC.txt thinking that it’s just a harmless text file while it could be an ABC.txt.exe – an encoded virus file.