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Common File Types

All of us are paralyzed without the computer. This gadget has come a long way since its inception. The cumbersome device is now compact and sleek. The world of computers is unique and dynamic and it has a distinct language. The computer lingo is spreading far and wide. If you use a computer only at work and you are not tech savvy then you should know what the common file types are. This is very fundamental in nature and almost everyone is aware about this.

If you have Windows based computer, managing files can be a task. You have a lot of data that needs to be stored in the form of files so you should be aware of the distinct file extensions. This concept is very ambiguous to many of us. You should be aware so that even if you download new software, you are able to function with ease and comfort.

We all use different types of files to save data and information. Scientifically a file type consists of characters (A-Z) and may be numeric. For example, the word document is a common file type in which you can store information. All the windows based computers have .ext files in which .ext denotes files extensions. The basic function of the extension is to tell the operating system the kind of file it is. So, it is safe to say that an extension helps in stating the kind of file it is.

The word extension should be understood in detail. If you are a using a computer regularly, then you will know what are disk files. These files have to be named in a particular manner so that the operating system can identify it. For example, filename.ext is the name of a file. So, you should know that this should not be confused as the device name. If you have MS-DOS installed in the computer, then the extension cannot exceed three characters. This should be kept in mind while naming the files. Some systems are not updated hence you may have to use only three characters while naming the file.

Another common type of file is the image or picture file. Pictures are stored in JPEG format, GIF format, PNG format, or TIFF format. There are many other formats that should be known so that you can compare the advantages and disadvantages. JPG images are opened by your default browser or by a graphics program. Even if you store pictures in GIF format, they are opened by the default browser or by a graphics program.

Below is a table that talks about some common file type extensions.

Extension Type Explanation
.aam media file MacroMedia Shockwave
.asp web page active server page – used to code Web pages. A Microsoft code language.
.avi video clip Audio/Video Interleaved – movie clip – open with your media player, IE, or Firefox
.bak backup file Used by many applications – often created automatically
.bat application DOS batch file – run by double-clicking – edit with Notepad
.bmp graphic file Microsoft bitmap – open in MS Paint or graphics program
.cab archive Microsoft installation archive (cabinet file) – similar to .zip archive
.cfg   Configuration file
.cgi   Common Gateway Interface – used to exchange information with a server (often used with Perl)
.chk   Data recovered after running Windows Checkdisk
.css style sheet plain text file containing web page style preferences
.csv data Comma Separated Value file – a way of presenting tabular data in a text file – usually viewed in MS Excel.
.dat data file Used by several applications. Cannot be opened directly.
.dcr media file Macromedia Shockwave movie
.dir media file Macromedia Director file – provides animation and interactivity
.dll dynamic link library Used by Windows to provide services to applications
.doc document Microsoft Word file
.dot template Microsoft Word template
.dtd text document type definition
.exe application self-extracting or executable file – run by double-clicking
.faq data file Frequently Asked Questions – almost always a text/document file
.fla media Macromedia Flash animation file – requires Shockwave
.fnt   Font file
.gif image graphic in GIF format – open in web browser or graphics program
.gz application compressed archive file created by Gzip in the UNIX operating system
.hqx archive Compressed Macintosh file archive created by Binhex
.htm text file hypertext document (same as .html) – open in a web browser – edit in text editor
.ico Windows icon Open with an icon editor
.ini   Initialisation file
.jar Java Java compressed archive file
.jav Java cross platform programming language used to create complex interactive forms and special effects
.jpg image Graphic in JPEG format (Joint Photographic Experts Group) View with web browser or image editing program
.js JavaScript part of Web page used to create interactive effects such as mouse roll-overs and pop-up boxes
.jso   Java server page
.kbd data file Keyboard layout data
.log data file Created by many applications – usually a text file – edit in any text editor
.mid audio audio file in MIDI format
.mov video QuickTime movie – view using IE or FireFox
.mp3 audio Audio file in MP3 format
.mpg movie Video movie in MPEG format (Motion Picture Experts Group)
.old   Backup file
.pdf application Portable Document Format – requires Adobe Acrobat reader
.pl application Perl source file – text file, editable in any text editor
.png image graphic in Portable Network Graphics format – can work on all platforms
.ppt application Microsoft PowerPoint file – used for creating slides and overhead presentations
.pub   Microsoft Publisher page template file
.ram audio Real Audio file – open in browser with RealAudio plug-in
.rtf application Rich Text Format - word-processor file with formatting codes
.scr screen saver
.sea application Self-extracting archive -
Apple-Mac – requires Stuffit
.sig signature Appended to outgoing email messages – editable in text editor
.swf media Macromedia Shockwave Flash Movie
.sys   DOS system file – device driver or hardware configuration info
.tar application file archive created in the Unix operating system
.tar.gz application .tar archive compressed by Gzip
.tif image Tagged Image File format – graphic file – editable in graphics program
.tmp   temporary file – used by many programs
.txt text contains only ASCII code – also called ‘text file’ – editable in any text editor
.wav audio Sound file in Waveform format
.wsz graphics Winamp skin – visual interface for audio control board
.xls application Microsoft Excel worksheet file
.xml Web page extensible markup language – a plain text file for web pages
.zip application compressed file – open with WinZip

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