Saturday, September 27, 2008

File Extensions are Important

My Backing Up columns generated numerous inquires from Xpers who when they were ready to begin organizing their irreplaceable "Stuff" in preparation for their first backing up adventure, were having a problem identify many of their My Documents files.

I’m sure all but the most novice Good Booters are aware that all files have a file extension that indicate the type of file they are and in most cases, allows Windows to identify the program that created them.

As an example: A .doc file is a Word file extension added to the name you give a Word document when you click "Save As". Because Windows knows a .doc file is a Word file, when you click on it Windows opens it in Word.

With some exceptions most image files e.g., .jpg’s can be opened by any graphic program installed on your computer and most music files e.g., .MP3 files can be opened by just about any media player installed on your computer. But without exception they must have a file extension that Windows recognizes.

The point is - Windows opens a file by identifying its file extension.

Try this. Open My Pictures and view your photos as Thumbnails. Right click a .jpg file, click rename and delete just the .jpg. Click "yes" when you receive the warning. Note that the thumbnail is gone and if you click on the file you’ll be asked to associate it with a program to open it. By deleting the .jpg file extension Window no longer knows what kind of a file it is and thus how to open it.

To restore the thumbnail of your photo, right click on the file and add the file extension .jpg.
This little exercise demonstrates why Windows doesn’t by default display file exertions on many new computers. It’s to protect the novice from accidentally deleting file extensions. By hiding a file’s exertion and only presenting a file’s name, when a novice changes a file’s name they’ll not accidentally delete or change the file’s extension.

If you’re a bit beyond novice and understand the importance of file extensions, you can change the way your files are presented.

Open your Control Panel and click on Folder Options. Click "View" and scroll down and un check "Hide extension for known file types". Click Apply and Okay. Your file extensions will now be visible.

Next week I’ll discuss Vista’s file extensions and other Vista and XP file viewing options,

Here’s wishing you a Good Boot.

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