Computer File Extensions 

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Computer file extensions (or file types, formats, or suffixes as they are sometimes referred to) are those odd characters that follow the name of the file (e.g. myfile.doc where doc is the extension). Most file extensions that the average person runs into are either 3 or 4 letters but there are file types that have fewer characters and also use numbers.

It is possible that when you look at a file, you may not see the extension, but rest assured that they are there anyway.  If you can't see the extension, your computer is set to hide them.  You can elect to see them but unless you have a reason to do so, you are potentially a little safer.

Extension Purposes

You probably know by now that you cannot open any file with any program that you desire.  File extensions are used by your computer to identify how the file is to be used and what programs can be used to open them.  For example, when your computer sees a .doc extension, it knows that it is a file that must be opened by Microsoft Word.  

Other extensions such as .exe are what is referred to as an executable or program and there are instructions in the program that will tell your computer what to do.

Occasionally, you may see a file extension that your PC doesn't know.  In that case, if you were to double click on that file, your PC will open up a dialog box and ask you to choose a program to open it.  

Warning - if you are presented with this option and you don't know what you are doing, it is better to hit cancel and leave it alone than to open it.  You could do damage to your computer.

If you do know what the extension is, our BIG LIST will help you by giving a brief explanation of the file format. 

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