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Different Types of Files: A Beginner's Guide


Work with computers for any length of time and you'll be shocked at the many different types of files that you come across. Take a look at the file extensions in your PC and you'll see hundreds, if not thousands of different files that all work on your computer.

While you don't need to know what every one of these files is, having some idea as to what type of media they are can help you a lot. In this article, we're going to look at some of the most common types of files and what they are. Let's get started.

1. Document Files

First off, we have one of the most common types of files: document files. These are the files that you'll save when you work with a word processor like Microsoft Word, LibreOffice, or OpenOffice. They contain every word you've typed along with data on the font of choice, font size, formatting, and more.

The most common types of document files are .doc and .docx, which are used by Microsoft Word. Other popular forms of text files include .odt, .rtf, and .txt, though .txt is a much more basic file format.

Another popular format is .pdf, which is a highly polished format. You can even make other formats like HTML into .pdf using Spire PDF.

2. Media Files

Next up we have media files. These are files that encode your music, podcasts, and videos. For audio files, the most common file type, by far, is .mp3.

Pretty much any media player can play .mp3 files, while other files like .wma and .aac are much more specialized.

For videos, there are a few different file types including .avi, .mp4, and .mkv. They all have different pros and cons but most media players will play them, regardless.

3. Image Files

Image files encode images and are responsible for how the image looks. A .jpg file will be the most common type you'll encounter: these compress images without sacrificing too much quality, so are great for websites and emails.

Other image types include .gif (which aren't just animated), .png, and .tiff. In general, a larger file size will mean less compression and a better picture.

There are also non-traditional image file types like .webm, which most image viewers will have problems opening but are used online a lot.

4. Program Files

When you're dealing with programs themselves, there will be a lot of files involved but the one that starts and runs the program itself will be a .exe, which means executable. This means that your CPU runs the file, which then runs the program, so to speak.

If you're dealing with very old programs, you may also run into .bat files and the like, but .exe is the modern standard for Windows.

Different Types of Files: Explained

We hope that you feel more secure and understand the different types of files that you're likely to encounter. If you'd like to read more informative articles like this, check out the rest of our blog!


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