Opening Files of Unknown Types – Howtoshtab – how to, lifehacks, tips and tricks

>> Hello! I thought I’d talk today about files. Many of us get files from our students. They turn them in as homework and we can’t open ’em. It can be a very frustrating thing. You’ll see on the left side of the screen I’ve got three different icons representing files and the first one looks like it’s gonna open with Word and the second one looks like it may be opening with Notepad and third one, we just don’t know. Let’s see what we can do about this. So I guess the first thing you realize is that the problem may not be as bad as you think. Many as of course when we wanna open up a file, we just double click on a file to open it.

But the question is, how does your computer know which program it should use to view the file you double clicked on? Does it know to open it in Word or Excel or Paint or even iTunes? How do we know this? Well, we’re gonna into the world of a geek here for a second, so just hold on. We need to talk about file extensions. In the PC world, file names end with a period and some letters. For example, in the picture here you can see .doc, that’s a file extension, .xls, .html, there’s a whole bunch of these. And file extensions are the key to know which programs will open which files for you. On your computer, you may not even be able to see file extensions. This is a default setting. You can see on the screen shot here on left side, I can see a file name Difficult Student, but I can’t tell if that’s a .doc, .docx, or who knows what. I can’t see it. But on the screen shot on the right side, I have changed my computer so I am allowed to see file extensions.

And I can see that those both are.doc files, and that important for me to know that little piece of information. So how do you do this? Well, you can tell you computer to quit hiding file extensions. If you go the Start Menu and your Control Panels and find something called Folder Options. When you open up Folder Options, click on the View Tab near the top and there’s a whole bunch of settings in there. But one of them is called Hide Extensions for Known File Types, and that is probably checked so it is hiding them. If you uncheck it and then click OK, you will stop hiding file extensions and now you’ll be able to see them, just the first trick I think to be able to see your file extensions. So once you see you see your file extensions, how does your computer know that anything ending in .doc should open with Word? How does you computer know that .mp3 files maybe should be opened with iTunes? How does it know dot anything opens with anything? Now sometimes, your computer may not even know how to open a particular file up. Why does this happen? Sometimes you’ll see an icon like the ones shown on the left here and this is the dreaded unknown file icon.

Windows doesn’t know what to do with it. You double click on it and the dialogue box on the right pops up and at that point most of us just give up and say, “I can’t open the file.” So, let’s see how this works. We’re gonna have to return to this geek zone again for a second here so hang on. We’re gonna return back to that same control panel we had opened before, Start, Settings, Control Panel, and the Folder Options, Control Panel. This time we’re gonna look at a different tab though called File Types. The File Types tab is where we can see which file extensions are associated with which computer programs. Scroll around a bit and look at this and I do wanna give you a warning. Don’t mess in here unless you’re pretty sure what you’re doing. So, if you’re not sure, always click cancel to get out the dialog box. But let’s take a look at this in real life now.

Here on the screen you can see the Folder Options, Control Panel and I’ve clicked on the File Types tab. And at first it frankly doesn’t make too much sense. You have to scroll down a little bit to finally get to some interesting information. So here for example, you’ll see a file extension of .3g2. I don’t even know what that is to tell you the truth. But as I go down they get a little more interesting. They’re in alphabetical order based on the file extension and the little icons to the left usually mean something. So let’s see if I can find something a little more interesting. Here is one here, a .asf, I don’t even know what that means frankly. If I click on it though, down the bottom of this window you’ll see that that is set so that it will automatically open with Windows Media Player, and that’s been set up by the computer. I haven’t done anything.

If I looked at another one, let’s try a .asp. This one opens with blank. The computer doesn’t know that to do with it, and you notice the icon to the left is the Unknown File Type icon. So the computer has no idea how to deal with that. As we go through these, let me see if I can find something a little more interesting. Here’s a .doc, now we know those open with Microsoft Word and you can see the confirmation of this is going to open it with Microsoft Word, the little icon looks correct and the program that is used to open it. So let’s find another file type that your student may be turning into you. I’m gonna look down through the list and try to find RTFs. Here you’ll see near the top, RTF, and a little icon next to it. That’s not a Word icon next to it. If I go down to the bottom, it says, “Open with WordPad.

” And that may be fine or it may not be what you want. Now, I know that I can open an RTF file up with Word. I’m very confident in that, that that will work for me. If you’re not confident in doing this, do not do it. So I’m going to actually change the file association for this. I’m gonna make RTFs open with Word. So you’ll see to the right there’s a button for change. I’m gonna click on that and it says, “Windows can’t deal with this. What do you want to do?” I’m gonna select the program from a list of computer programs on my computer. I’ll click OK and there will be a whole list of these and I can browse the hard drive should I want to. But when I look, I do see the choice from Microsoft Office Word.

I like that one. I’m always gonna use that to open this type of file, an RTF and I’ll click OK. Now you notice the entry has changed in the Control Panel. I have a little Word icon and down below it says, “Opens with Microsoft Office Word” and I’ll click Close. And at this point now, whenever I double click on an RTF file, it will open in Word for me. And now you can see in this screen shot the original 3 files I showed you at the very beginning. One had the Word icon o the left side, one had the Notepad icon, and one had the Unknown icon because that was an RTF file. Now in the right side, you can see the same icons and you can see that the RTF file has now been associated with Word. And if I double click on it, it will open with Word. Now, what is in all of this? You’re just not a geek, and as soon as I said go the Control Panel and open this and click here and do that, you just said, “No way, I’m not doing it.” There are some other ways you can get around this problem. Let’s say your student turns in an RTF file and you know you should probably be able to open that with Word.

Let’s say they turn in a .txt file and you’re feeling pretty comfortable. I should be able to open that with Word. Perhaps even they turned in a WordPerfect file and you’re thinking, “I think we’re gonna open that.” There are ways to trick Word to at least try to open the file. So let me show you how to do that. The pictures on the left here show two examples of what a student may have turned in to you. Even if your computer does not show file extensions, what it is not showing is file extensions. It knows what to do something with. So in this case, the computer does not know what to do with the top one whose file extension is .wps. Therefore, it will show the file extension. It also doesn’t know what to do with the bottom one, the .wpd. They are both show the Unknown File icons, so that’s another clue for me. Now I know that the top one is actually a Microsoft Works formatted document, and I figure Word should be able to open it.

The second one is a WordPerfect document. I’m thinking Word should be able to open that as well. How do I know what those file extensions are? Well, I’ve messed with computers enough to be familiar with them but you can also search the internet for file extensions and find out what they are. So let me show you what I might do with this using Microsoft Word. I’m in Word right now. I’m in Word version 2003, a little work the same in 2007 or 2010, and what I wanna do is open up a file that my students turned in. So I’m gonna choose file open. Now you notice I started Microsoft Word. If I double click on those files that are of unknown type, the dialog will popup with the operating system telling me it doesn’t know what to do and I’m just kinda stuck at that point. So the trick here is to start up Word first and do file open. And I’ve got my student homework files in a folder. And if you notice right now, what is showing are two files, .

doc and .rtf. Now again, I have file extension showing so this is helping me. But where is all the rest of my homework files? I know they were more than this, more than two– they disappeared. Well, not really. If you look at the bottom of this dialogue box, Microsoft is trying to help me and it’s only showing files that Word knows how to deal with, .doc files, .dot, .rtf because I told it to handle those earlier. So where are the rest of the files? What I have to do is tell Word to quit filtering for me. Instead of showing just Word documents, show me everything in this folder, all files. I don’t care if they’re movies, pictures, sound files, I don’t care, show ’em all to me. And if I do that, more things popup. And I can see now I have a .txt file, a .wps, and up at the top, even my WordPerfect file is here. So I’m thinking Word should be able to open a works file.

So I’m gonna try it. I’m gonna click on it and click Open. And there it is. I opened up a works file just like that. The WordPerfect file should work very similar. I do File Open, navigate to where the file is, make sure I’m looking at all files so I can see it, click on it and open it. I hope this helps you..

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