File Management Principles & Shortcuts Part 3 of 3

File ManagementWelcome back to the third and final (for now) part of our series on file management.

If you missed the first part, we covered file properties, moving, deleting/restoring, and ordering, so go back and check that out.

If you missed the second part, we covered renaming, bulk renaming, and shortcuts, so go back and check that out.

In this part we will cover showing file extensions, changing file extensions, and how to change file associations, so let’s get to it!

How to Show File Extensions in Windows 7

As I have mentioned before, every file has a file extension at the end that indicates the file type, what kind of data is stored in the file, and how it can be accessed.

Suffice it to say, file extensions are pretty important. They are also unnecessary distractions, if you choose to consider them so. Personally, I like to see file extensions wherever I go.

Linux shows file extensions by default. On Window, this feature is not default, but can be enabled.

There are three main methods that can be used to bring up the Windows 7 Folder Options window, from which the file extensions can be toggled.

1. In File Explorer, go to Organize > Folder and Search Options.

2. Start > Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Folder Options

3. Click on Start, then type in Folder Options and hit Enter.

Once the Folder Options window is open, click on the “View” tab, and un-check the “Hide extensions for known file types” check-box.

If you find that don’t like seeing file extensions all of the time, you can always change it back!

How to Change File Extensions

The right answer to the question “How do I change a file extension?” would be to tell you to open up the file and Save As, at which point you can assign it any file extension that is appropriate to the type of data being saved.

The other answer is that it is possible to go around changing file extensions exactly like you would rename a file.

The problem with this other answer, is that unless you know what you’re doing, you could not only not be able to open the file with its new extension, but you could also corrupt the file and not be able to recover it (in extreme cases).

But… if you’re like me, and you’ve accidentally saved a file with the wrong extension (and now it won’t even open to be able to correct it via “Save As”!), or have accidentally changed the extension already… you will need to know how to change the file extension back to one that makes the file usable.

For this to work, you’ll need to be able to see the file extension, so if you can’t already see the extensions for each of your files, go back to the beginning of this page and learn how you can get file extensions to show up. Or use Linux. Your call.

Then, simply rename the file, just like you would edit it’s name, and change the extension instead. In Windows, you will be prompted to confirm that you really want to do that, so there is still time to change your mind…

How to Change File Associations

Almost universally, file associations are indicated by an icon that is displayed along with each file.

They are called file extension icons, and are usually unique to a specific program. They are usually also the program’s logo.

The file extension icon by each file name indicates the default program that the file will open with.

It may take some time, but after awhile it will be easy to glance at a file and know it’s association, just by reflex.

So what if you want to change the file association?

Two thoughts should be taken into consideration:

1. It is easy to open a file with another program now-and-again (as long as the program supports the file type), but it does take a few extra steps.

2. It is possible to change, once-and-for-all, the file association, or default program, that a file will open with, but that change/default will be applied to all files with the same file type (all .txt files or all .png files, etc.).

Now that you’ve taken this into consideration, the actual details can be narrowed down to a few clicks each.

To open a file (one time) with a non-default program, right-click on the file in question and select Open With. If your preferred program is not in the list, choose Other, and find the program that way.

To change the file association, right-click on any file with the file type in question, select Open With and then select Other. Click on the program that you want the file type to be associated with, then also check the “Always use the selected program to open this kind of file” or “Remember application association for this type of file” box. Then click OK.

It’s that simple.


What’s missing? If you still have questions about file management, ask them below; I’ll either answer them, or devote a later post to them.

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