The extension of a file is a reference of the file type. This information is also know as format.
A file extension is a suffix added to the file name that determines the file format. Examples: the extension of an MP3 file is .mp3: song.mp3 (the .mp3 file extension tells us that the file is normally of type MP3); the extension of a Word document is .doc (or .docx for the most recent versions of Word): document.doc (this .doc lets you know that you normally have a Word document); the extension of a Gif image file is .gif: image.gif; the extension of a simple text file is .txt: document.txt; and the extension of a program or an application is .exe (it is necessary to be wary of this extension if it is an attachment of an email because it could contain a virus).
How to change a file extension name
Without installing any specific software
If you want to change the extension of one of your files without having to install software, there is a simple trick that will be effective on Windows. Here's how to proceed:
- Open your file explorer, and display the file whose extension you want to change (for example let us change a .jpg to .png)
- Select it, and then File> Options
- In the menu that has just opened, go to the tab "Display," and uncheck the box "Hide extensions of files of known type," then click "Apply" to validate, and "OK" to close the window
- Then go back to your file explorer, right-click on the file in question, and click on "Rename."
- Change the extension of your file to replace it with the one of your choice (here we change a .jpg to .png)
- Press the "Enter" key on your keyboard; a dialogue box will ask you to confirm your operation by warning you: your file may become unusable. Validate by clicking on "Yes."
Other methods of changing file extensions
There are several other methods of changing the file extension without much fuss. Some of the useful methods are:
Change the extension of a file in almost all software
- Open a file in its default software
- Click the Save As after clicking the File menu
- You have to select a location to save the file
- Give the file a name
- Observe the dialog box that appears. In the drop-down menu choose a new file type.
- Then Click the Save button. The original file will always be open in the software
- You can easily locate the new file at the destination which you selected during saving
Making the file extension visible
In order to change the file extension, it is helpful when you can visualize straightaway the original file extension of the file without the need to click on anything. You can make Windows/Mac display the file extension of your file by following any of the below-mentioned procedures.
Make the file extensions visible in Mac OS X:
- Select a Finder window ot You can also open a new one. Another option is to click on the desktop to switch the finder.
- In the finder menu click Preferences
- Then click Advanced
- Select and check the "show all the file extensions"
- The process is complete.
If you open a new Finder window. The files will now display their extensions
Make the file extension visible in Windows:
- Open the control panel. Click on the Start menu
- You will find Appearance and Personalization in the section of the control panel, just click on it
- Click on the Options folder
- Click the View tab. This tab is in the Options folder in the dialog box
- Make the extensions visible.
- Go to advanced settings, scroll down until you find the Hide Extensions option for known file types. Click the box to uncheck this option
- Click Apply and then click OK
- Open the Windows Explorer browser file. So, you will see the file extensions
For Windows 8 and Windows 10 follow the below-mentioned procedure to make file extension visible:
- Open Windows Explorer
- Click the View tab
- Observe the View / Hide section. Check the box Name of file extensions in this section.
- The process is complete.
The hidden default option for file extensions
Since Windows Vista, Microsoft has taken the habit of hiding file extensions in its explorer (file manager that can display and manipulate files and folders on the computer). The display of the files is, however convenient to know what the format of the file is (this makes it possible to be wary of the attachments which accompany the emails).
This allows novice users (who may not know what an extension is) to make errors when they want to rename a file. Indeed, if the file extension is deleted, the file will not work properly and cannot be opened in the usual software. This is to protect novice users from false manipulation! In the same way, Microsoft masks some files and folders of its operating system, but fortunately, there is a trick to display the hidden files or folders on Windows.
Think twice before changing the file extension
Be careful to transform the extension by staying in the same type of files. If you change (for example) the extension of an image file into a video file extension, you may end up with an unusable file! When in doubt, be sure to copy the original file to avoid mishandling.