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File Types and Extensions

Updated on October 30, 2015

One of the most confusing things to a layman is the number of different file types and extensions that a document can have.

When I first began freelancing as a writer online a client of mine sent me a .pdf document and asked me to write articles based on the information it contained. And here I was not even able to open the file to access what it said. Yes I was that bad, but do consider that this was way back in the 1990s.

Eventually I did manage to figure out that I needed different software and thank god for Google that I could find it easily. What would we do without the Search Engines?! Thankfully we don't have to find out. Since that assignment I have handled far more file extensions and types and feel I can share some of this to make it easier for others who follow.

Given here is a set of extensions that you may come across and quick reference to the kind of file that you can expect it to be. Additionally there is the choice of software in which the file with that particular extension will open to be viewed.

Since I figure Mac users will know this stuff anyhow, I'm sticking to software on a PC. I have tried to group files of a similar type together so that it is easier to follow. Hope it makes life just a bit easier for you.

gif, jpg, jpeg, png = Image Files

The files with these extensions are essentially picture files or image files. These documents can usually viewed in Microsoft's Paint. This is usually loaded in all PC computers that operate on windows. In fact when you try to save a new image in Ms Paint you can actually choose which one of these file formats you want the final file to end up in.

pdf = Document with words and images that can't be edited

A PDF file is usually read in Adobe Reader. It will generally have restrictions to editing the file. You can sometimes copy the data here into a regular Word Document and edit it there. However not all .pdf files allow this copy paste business. On the whole Adobe Acrobat is the software that you will use to create and edit such documents. This is a good format to hand in your end assignment to an employer if you are freelancing as a writer.

txt, doc,docx, ppt, pptx,xls,xlsx = Microsoft Office Files

The txt file can be opened in notepad, or wordpad. The doc and docx files can be opened in Word 2003 and Word 2007 respectively. The ppt and pptx files are power point documents that can be opened in Power Point 2003 and 2007 respectively. The xls and xlsx files are excel sheets that can be opened in Excel 2003 and 2007 respectively. Most PCs these days can handle both the older and newer formats together in the same software, this was not always the case and used to cause a number of inconveniences to freelance writers.

html, htm = Internet Files

The html and htm forms are files that can be opened in your internet browser. They need knowledge of coding to be edited. You can view these documents in Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Mozilla Fire Fox. They will also open in HTML editors if you are using them. Thankfully you don't need to any more as the editors for most websites have now got a Graphical User Interface easing out the necessity of learning to code in HTML.

wav, mov, avi, wmv, mpeg, mpg, mpe, mp3, mp4 = Media Files

These are all multimedia files. They can be audio, video or animation. You can view most of them in VLC media player. This is a free software that you can download off the internet. It can play most media files with ease. Freeware, or free software is usually available at most crowd sourcing websites. Personally I prefer to download Freeware at File Hippo. They have a fair collection and a good feedback system that allows you to see reviews of different types of software that you may want to download.

zip, rar = Compressed Files

The zip and rar files can be viewed in Winzip which can be downloaded from their website for a 14 day free trial period. These files can contain other documents with different file extensions. So you may need readers for these other files as well. Of course if you are looking for a Freeware for unzipping files, head over to File Hippo and get PeaZip. Its a great alternative to WinZip or WinRar.

epub, mobi, lit = Ebooks

With the large number of ebooks now flooding the market and being so much cheaper than the print books readers are looking at them a whole lot more. One of the best Freeware ebook readers that I have come across is Calibre Ebook Management. The library of ebooks can be loaded into this software and then transferred to any other device besides your PC to read. It works out really well if you just need to load a couple of books to your smartphone when on the run.

Long Way Home (A Mangrove Island Novel Book 1)
Long Way Home (A Mangrove Island Novel Book 1)

Pull up a beach chair and enjoy the fireworks on Mangrove Island in the first book in this contemporary romance series.

Tyler Barnes can’t believe his eyes when Alexis MacAdams walks back into his life. His high school crush left Mangrove Island seventeen years ago and never looked back. He’s held on to the memory of her, even though she never gave him a second glance. Now Alexis is back for the holidays and Tyler is determined to make a lasting impression before she slips away again. He soon learns, however, that her broken heart needs to heal before he has a chance to win it. Can Tyler convince her to risk her heart for a second time?


Hopefully this hub will allow you to open files with different extensions that you are not familiar with, in a much faster manner. Thank you for taking the time to read this hub. If it helped you please leave me a comment.


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    • cashmere profile image

      cashmere 6 years ago from India

      It is useful if you want to begin working as a freelancer online to know what kinds of documents you may have to deal with.

    • profile image

      wasim 6 years ago

      thank you for collecting this type of informations