Computer Tip 003 What kind of file are you?

What kind of file are you?     

Computer Tip Whittlesea U3A
Whittlesea U3A Computer Tip

by Ben Carauna

Why do you need to know what kind of file it is?  So you can identify the software required to open it and more importantly to realise why you can’t open it, after all:


Normally this is not a problem as when you action the open procedure on a selected file, the corresponding software installed on your computer will automatically open and display the file contents without you having the need to know how this actually happens.

However, if you happen to receive a file as an email attachment or transferred to your computer by any other external means, the software required to open up that file may not have been installed on to your computer, and in these instances the file cannot be opened.


So how do we recognize what sort of file it is?

File data is assembled in an organized manner depending on the file type and software used, and this is referred to as the file format, which is indicated by the file extension which is separated from the actual file name by a period (full stop) and is usually comprised of 3 or 4 letters.

Therefore, to be able to open a file, you need to have installed on your computer the appropriate software that can access the data on the file.

Following are the file extension types that you will most likely come across:

      MS WORD – word documents                             .doc    (97-2003)  .docx  (2007

      ME EXCEL – spreadsheet                                   .xls      (97-2003) .xlsx    (2007) .xlsm  (2007 macro-enabled)

      ADOBE Acrobat – portable data format              .pdf

      Graphics – image files                                         .gif  .jpeg  .png

      MS POWERPOINT                                             .pps    PowerPoint show .ppt    PowerPoint presentation

      WEB files                                                             .htm  .html