December 31, 2011

How to figure out which programme or application opens an unknown file type?

Your client or colleague sends you an email with an important attachment. You download the attachment and eagerly open it to find that it is an unknown file type and you cannot open it on your system as your computer does not have the programme that runs it. Windows offers to help you figure out the programme. Knowing Microsoft for so long, you will not try it as you will end up finding nothing about the file. 

Encounters with unknown file types is a major issue that often comes up in offices across the world. With many organizations moving towards Open Source and many still sticking around with Microsoft, the issue is not as simple as you think.  It forces you to waste a lot of time and phone calls, trying to figure out what went wrong.

What can you do when you come across a file you cannot open? 

  1. Find out the file extension. Most files have a file extension. It can be .odt .epub .txt .jpeg or anything. See what follows the dot (.) after the file name. That is your file extension.
  2. If you do not have the file extension mentioned in file name, go to the file and right click to open the properties of the file. Check out file type to figure out the file extension. 
  3. Once you figure out the file extension, go to WolframAlpha. You can go to WolframAlpha from here. Type the file name in the text box and click search. WolframAlpha will come up with a list of programmes that will help you open the file. 
  4. Go back to Google and find out how to download this Application or Programme, which can open this unknown file for you.

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