File extensions & how to use them

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File extension? But it’s not April 15th yet? Normally when we hear the term “file extension”, our mind jumps to belated income taxes, and the inevitable impending doom that will be rained down by the IRS if they are not submitted. Luckily for us (and the Feds) the file extensions that we’re discussing today is much more benign, and even downright pleasant.

A file extension is simply an abbreviation of the entire file’s name. It helps your computer (or your computer’s operating system for accuracy’s sake) know what type of file you’ve created. In our example below, we can see that the file “File extension example” is really called “File extension example.docx”.

Your file extension is showing...

Your file extension is showing…

So your next question should be “how do I change my computer’s settings to see file extensions?” That’s what you were going to say? Well great question! It’s actually fairly simple.
On your computer, navigate to Control panel > File explorer options > View. Once under the View tab, uncheck the “Hide extensions for known file types”. Then hit “Apply” button, and that’s it. Whenever making changes to your settings, always restart  your computer.

Be hidden no more!

Be hidden no more!

Now when searching for files and documents, you will be able to see the file extensions. By seeing the file extension, it gives us, the users, an easy way to not only see what kind of file we are dealing with, but also the option to change. Changing the file extension (in most cases) can be done by right-clicking on the file name, selecting  the “Rename” option, and editing the file extension.

Searching made easier.

Searching made easier.

 

You can also choose what type of file you are using when you save or save as. When you are saving the file, your file name will (wait for it…) be listed under the “file name” edit box. Just below the file name, another edit box called “Save as type” will give you the option to select the file type. Your operating system will default to the most relevant file type, but you have the option to change it.

Common file extensions you say?

Common file extensions you say?

Thanks for learning a bit more about your user options. Now go out, and extend those files!


Ilse Ferris

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