Beginning in the mid 1980s, the computer began to evolve into an integral part of the average person’s everyday life. Variety in both computer software (used to provide computer operating systems with instructions) and operating systems themselves have increased tremendously. There are now thousands of different software file types. A computer user needs to know a quick and easy way to identify different software file types so that the appropriate software can be used to open, view and edit the file.
1. If you are using a Mac, skip ahead to Step 5. If you are using a PC, go to the Windows desktop, click on the “start” button and navigate to the file location by using either “Search” or by looking in the folders in the drives within “My Computer.”
2. Double click on the folder that contains the file in question. When the list of files within that folder populates on screen, click on “View” at the top of the window.
3. Select “Details” from the drop down menu that appears. The window will now display the files in a column with the properties of the files in columns adjacent to it.
4. Look to the column with the “Type” heading. This column will often give you the software type with which the file was created, such as “Microsoft Office Word Document.” If not, letters indicating the file extension will be listed. Take note of these. Some common file extensions are .doc (text files), .xls (spreadsheet files) and .jpg (image files). The two websites listed below in the resources section give definitions and software types for nearly every file extension in existence
5. If you are a Mac user, click on “File” and then “Find” in order to locate the file in question. Display the file properties on a Mac system by clicking on “File” and then “Get Info.”