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File Converters

Updated on December 15, 2011

Somewhere, somehow you will need to convert a file. Here are some tips and guidelines to help you in this process.

Changing a file format can sometimes be very challenging, especially when you are unfamiliar with what file types and extensions are.

File types and formats

A file extension describes to the computer what the file content (format) is about. Extensions are generally a 3 character postfix to a file, starting with a dot, like my_file.txt. Just looking at the extension you will notice this is a text file and the format of it will be text based. Your computer knows to use a text editor application to read the text file, based on the extension. To ease confusion some operating systems will not display the extension and also assign a icon to the file to associate it with the relevant application to open it.

Changing the file type

When a file type is changed, it is more than just the extension being renamed. Conversion takes the content of the file (format), making it readable for another application to open the file. Many applications also support various file formats, a image viewer will be able to read multiple formats such as jpg, gif, png, tiff and so on.

Save as

Most applications have a option to save the file as a different format, this you normally get under the "File" option in your application. From the "File" option you would have a "Save as" option to change the file to another format. This approach it very simple and straight forward. Check this option first before you venture into the Internet for options.

On-line converters

Depending on the conversion, these are very popular. The process is generally quick and painless, upload file, select options to convert, upon completion you download the converted file. The on-line converters do mostly have limitations as to the amount, size and times you convert. They are very handy of you need to do a simple once off conversion.

Alternative applications

You might find just the application by looking for alternative software. Many a times you get that some proprietary files and formats can be read and changed using an alternative program. One very handy site to get this info is http://alternativeto.net/

Conversion utilities

Here things get very interesting. There are thousands upon thousands of applications you can download that "promise" to do what you want with your conversion. Should you be new to conversions take caution as it might keep you longer busy than anticipated. Most of these software applications have limitations on them to get you to purchase it. It would work with the limitations and then people would go in search of a way to circumvent the limitations by means of crack, patch, keygens... and so starts the long search on virus and malware infected sites... costing you sometimes more to get you PC repaired and fix than it was to purchase the software from the beginning.

Open source has come a long way and you could most possibly find exactly what you are looking for. http://sourceforge.net/ is a very popular site for obtaining applications and utilities that is free.

In Closing

Different operating systems have different ways of dealing with files (and their extensions). This article aims to give you a understanding of very basic file handling, the dangers in trying to circumvent trials and limitations on some software and providing alternatives.

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