File Extensions

If you have saved a file before with a word processor or office program then chances are you know a little bit about file extensions.  File names created in Open Office Writer have a .odf at the end of them. Files created with Microsoft Word  have a .doc (or docx) at the end. The way I would explain a file extension would be that it’s a specific file type that is only readable by certain programs.  So, if you have a file that you can’t open, then it probably means that you don’t have the right software installed to open it (or the file is corrupted).  Something could also be wrong if the file name has more than one dot in it, for example:  “myfile.finalpaper.doc” – naming a file like this can confuse your computer into thinking that it is an unsupported file type when really it should only have 1 dot before the file extension: “myFinalPaper.doc” would be a better choice.

On the other hand, it could be possible to be sent a file with an extension that you’ve never seen before.  One strategy to figuring out how to open a file is to use The Google by entering the file type and the words “how do you open” or “what program opens”

Wikipedia states that:

“A filename extension is a suffix to the name of a computer file applied to indicate the encoding convention (file format) of its contents.”

There is a massive list of file names found on Wikipedia, but GSLIS students really only deal with a handful of different file types, like .pdf .doc and .mp3 – Knowing how to identify and troubleshoot unknown file types and understanding some fundamental rules of naming files can help avoid a lot of stress and headaches.   Also, don’t forget that if you are enrolled in classes at GSLIS and are experiencing difficulties opening a file or identifying the right program to do so, you can contact the GSLIS Help Desk.

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