File extensions – definition and basic information

File extensions are the integral parts of the files that are on each computer. Often, when working on a computer, we encounter a wide range of files, such as docx, ppt, part, mp3 or rmvb. We realize that they are there – but we often do not know what they are for on our computer.

File extension, also known as the filename extension is a suffix added to the name of a computer file, usually consisting of a number of characters placed after the last dot in the filename, which gives us information about its coding. In other words a file extension is a file format. It allows the operating system (e.g. Windows) to recognize what program it should try to open the file.

In the table below you will find a random selection of popular file extensions.

File extension The full name of the file Category

CFG file extension

Configuration File

Settings Files

COM file extension

DOS Command File

Executable Files

DMG file extension

Mac OS X Disk Image

Disk Image Files

EPS file extension

Encapsulated PostScript File

Vector Image Files

HTM file extension

Hypertext Markup Language File

Web Files

INDD file extension

Adobe InDesign Document

Layout Files

M4A file extension

MPEG-4 Audio File

Audio Files

MAX file extension

3ds Max Scene File

3D Image Files

MIM file extension

Multi-Purpose Internet Mail Message File

Encoded Files

PLUGIN file extension

Mac OS X Plug-in

Plugin Files

PNG file extension

Portable Network Graphic

Raster Image Files

SWF file extension

Shockwave Flash Movie

Video Files

TAR file extension

Consolidated Unix File Archive

Data Files

WMA file extension

Windows Media Audio File

Audio Files

3G2 file extension

3GPP2 Multimedia File

Video Files