Common File Formats
and how to open them

There are thousands of file types found on the Internet and elsewhere these days, and figuring out what you can use when presented with the OPEN WITH dialog can be confusing.

Some formats are fairly common and will open in multiple applications, and some are completely proprietary and will only open in the software that created them. These formats vary widely in quality, image depth and resolution and some are in compressed formats. This of course is only a partial list, and as it is a "work in progress", I invite any readers who can contribute from their own experience to email me.

Below is a list of some of the most common file formats with suggestions on programs that you either have or can download to open them. Those programs which are commonly preinstalled on Aptivas as part of either the IBM or Microsoft pre-load bundle are in BOLD type. Those programs that can be downloaded as free trial shareware are shown as HYPERLINKS that will take you to some information on the software referenced.

BMP IMAGE Windows BITMAP format MS-Paint, AOL, ViewPrint, Paint Shop Pro
.GIF IMAGE CompuServeďż˝ Graphical Interchange Format, one of the two (with .JPG) most common graphics format found on the Internet. AOL, MS Internet Explorer,ViewPrint, Paint Shop Pro
IMAGE 24bit common Internet file format for color-rich images (developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group) Apple Picture Viewer, AOL, MS Internet Explorer, ViewPrint, Paint Shop Pro
IMAGE Tagged Information File Format, a large high quality image format. MS Internet Explorer, ViewPrint, Paint Shop Pro
.TGA IMAGE Truevision Targa image file. ViewPrint, Paint Shop Pro
.PCX IMAGE ZSoft Paintbrush file. MS-Paint, MS WordPad, MS-Works, ViewPrint, Paint Shop Pro
.WMF IMAGE Microsoft Windows Metafile MS WordPad, MS-Works, ViewPrint, Paint Shop Pro
.ART IMAGE "Static Art" compressed AOL graphic format AOL
.RLE IMAGE CompuServe and Microsoft Windows graphics format. ViewPrint, Paint Shop Pro
.DIB IMAGE RGB/RLE encoded MS Windows and OS/2 format ViewPrint, Paint Shop Pro
.CDR IMAGE CorelDRAW! image format Paint Shop Pro
.CGM IMAGE Computer Graphics Metafile Paint Shop Pro
.DRW IMAGE Micrografx Draw format Paint Shop Pro
.DXF IMAGE Autodesk graphic Paint Shop Pro
.GEM IMAGE Ventura/GEM image Paint Shop Pro
.HGL IMAGE Hewlett-Packard Graphics Language image file Paint Shop Pro
.PCT IMAGE Common Apple Mac graphics format Paint Shop Pro
.PIC IMAGE Lotus Development Corp, MAC graphic format Apple Picture Viewer, Paint Shop Pro
.WPG IMAGE Corel WordPerfect image format Paint Shop Pro
.AVI MOVIE Audio/Video Interleave, file format used by Video for Windows Media Player, ViewPrint
.MOV MOVIE Apple QuickTime Movie Apple QuickTime Movie Player, ViewPrint
MOVIE Moving Picture Experts Group movie file Apple QuickTime Movie Player, ViewPrint
MOVIE Autodesk Animator Pro "Flick Movie" file ViewPrint
.WAV SOUND Windows standard waveform sound files Sound Recorder, WinDat, Media Player, AOL, MS-Internet Explorer, ViewPrint, WHAM
.MID SOUND Musical Instrument Digital Interface, orchestrated digital sound files Media Player, MIDI Orchestrator, AOL, MS Internet Explorer, ViewPrint
.RMI SOUND Digital sound format, similar to MIDI Media Player, MIDI Orchestrator
.AU SOUND Sun Microsystems /Unix sound file format, commonly found on the Internet. AOL, MS Internet-Explorer, WHAM
SOUND Audio Interchange File Format, several common Apple Mac formats MS Internet Explorer, WHAM
.VOC SOUND Creative Labs [Sound Blaster] audio format primarily for DOS WHAM
.VOI SOUND Voyetra Voice files WinDat
.CDA SOUND CD Audio files MS CD Player, AudioStation
SOUND RealAudio files, Internet streamed audio and video RealPlayer
.TXT TEXT Standard MS-DOS text format MS NotePad, MS WordPad, all text based programs
.DOC TEXT Microsoft Word for Windows text document MS WordPad, MS Works
.RTF TEXT Microsoft Rich Text Format MS WordPad, MS Works
.LOG TEXT Log files (ie error logs, chat logs) Logview, MS NotePad, MS WordPad
TEXT Various Microsoft Works file formats (Word Processor, Spreadsheet,Database and Communications) MS Works
.WRI TEXT Windows Write files MS Works
.XLS TEXT Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet MS Works
.PDF TEXT Adobe Acrobat files ACROREAD
.WP   .WPD
.WP4 .WP5
TEXT Corel WordPerfect documents MS Works
TEXT HyperText Markup Language, Internet documents (AKA webpages) MS Internet Explorer, AOL, MS NotePad, MS WordPad
TEXT Lotus WordPro documents MS Works
.ZIP MISC Compressed file archives used to speed up and package files on the Internet PKUNZIP (on the Diagnostics CD), WinZip, ViewPrint
.EXE MISC Executable program OR self-extracting archive file N/A [EXECUTABLE]
MISC Encoded files often used in Internet email WinZip, ViewPrint
.FON MISC System font FontView
.TTF MISC TrueType Fonts FontView
.THEME MISC Desktop Theme file MS Plus!
.SCR MISC Generally Screen Saver files N/A [EXECUTABLE]
.QIC MISC Microsoft Backup File Microsoft Backup
.HLP MISC Microsoft Help Documentation WINHLP32
.GRP MISC Microsoft Program Group file GRPCONV
.PAB MISC Microsoft Personal Address Book Microsoft Exchange
.ICO MISC Icon File N/A
.CUR MISC Mouse cursor N/A
.ANI MISC Animated mouse cursor or icon N/A
.CHK MISC File fragments saved by ScanDisk N/A
.DLL SYSTEM Dynamic-Link Library N/A
.COM SYSTEM DOS Application N/A
.SYS SYSTEM System Config file SYSEDIT, NotePad
.BIN SYSTEM Binary file N/A
.DAT SYSTEM Data file N/A
.DRV SYSTEM Driver file N/A
.386 SYSTEM Virtual device driver N/A
.VXD SYSTEM Virtual device driver N/A
.INF SYSTEM Hardware Info file NotePad
.INI SYSTEM System Initialization file SYSEDIT, NotePad
.VBX SYSTEM Visual Basic control N/A
.REG SYSTEM Registry file REGEDIT, NotePad
.TMP SYSTEM Windows temporary file N/A


  1. ViewPrint/VuePro - Hamrick Softwares ViewPrint is THE program for opening image and multimedia files. This will open EVERYTHING...

    Image files (.GIF, .BMP, .DIB, .RLE, .PCX, .TGA, .JPG, .CAM, .TIF, .WMF)
    Sound files (.MID, .WAV, .MCI)
    Movie files (.AVI, .MPG, .MMM, .MOV, .FLI, .FLC)
    Slide Show files (.SLI)
    Encoded files (.UUE, .UU1, .01, .MSG, .MME, .HQX)
    Zip files (.ZIP)

    The program will give you the option of associating all of the above extensions (answer YES, the software makes it easy to remove or all extensions later) -- you may never see the OPEN WITH prompt again! Supports easy converion between image formats. Four stars, must-have software.

    VIEWPRINT (shareware) Hamrick Software

  2. Paint Shop Pro - While ViewPro will OPEN everything, if it's an image Paint Shop Pro will do it ALL. A fantastic user-friendly format for creating great graphics, that will save to as well as open nearly every image file imaginable.

    PAINT SHOP PRO (shareware) JASC Software

  3. WHAM - A great semi-freeware ( calls it "shareware" but the program is full featured...all the programmer asks is a "voluntary contribution" if it's useful), this program will open, edit and convert a slew of the less common audio files you may run into. The file is small, so if you're into SOUND grab WHAM (Waveform Hold and Modify)

    WHAM (freeware) DOWNLOAD.COM - WHAM

  4. Acroread - A ton of HELP files these days come in .PDF Adobe Acrobat format, plus if you surf the Web you're bound to run into some Acrobat files. Adobe has their software available as FREE (love that word) WARE.

    ACROREAD (freeware) Adobe Systems

  5. WinZip - The number ONE downloadable filetype on the Internet is .ZIP, and for good reason...who want's to sit there downloading 199 separate files to play a game or use a shareware app? The compressed archive format ties it all up in a nice neat package, and speeds download times to boot. So what's not to love? While we DO have PKUNZIP (DOS) on our Blue Diagnostics and Utilities CD, WinZip can't be beat with it's user friendly Windows interface. It's full-featured shareawre that supports those *extended evaluations* I sure love. Besides UNzipping you can ZIP files up for friends, and even convert your .ZIPs to self-extracting .EXEs for those who don't have an UNZIPper.

    WINZIP (shareware) Nico Mat, Inc.

  6. RealPlayer - The browser "plugin" from Progressive ain't just for the ears anymore. The RealAudio of yesterday has been replaced by RealPlayer, which supports those great live "streamed audio" radio broadcasts and concerts as well as the newer RealVideo. Treat your eyes AND your ears as you surf.

    REALPLAYER (freeware) Progressive Networks

Again, this is just a start, and I hope that eventually this will be a fairly comprehensive list of file type extensions. In the meantime I hope this helps, and feel free to email any suggestions.

TO DON5408's