The main file formats of Windows. What is needed, as well as what to open and create?

  1. Introduction The information in this article is intended more for novice users of a computer with...
  2. Text Document (.txt)
  3. Microsoft Office Word Document (.doc, .docx)
  4. Microsoft Excel Sheet (.xls, .xlsx)
  5. Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation (.PPT, .PPTX)
  6. HTML document (.HTML, .HTM)
  7. Image files (.JPG / .JPEG, .PNG, .BMP, .GIF)
  8. Video files (.MP4, .AVI, .MOV, .3GP, .WMV, .MKV)
  9. Sound (music) files (.MP3, .AAC., WMA, WAV)
  10. Files-archives (.ZIP, .RAR, .7Z, .TAR)
  11. Adobe Acrobat Document (.PDF)
  12. Conclusion


The information in this article is intended more for novice users of a computer with the installed Windows operating system, who are still poorly oriented in the system itself, do not quite understand the file types which programs can open other moments. Now I’ll just touch on the topic of Windows file types, which major ones will occur most often and with which programs in Windows such files can be opened and with which ones to create.

There are simply a huge number of different file formats and for many of them a separate program is needed to open it. And well, if such a program is already installed on the computer. Then an inexperienced user can only double-click on the file with the left mouse button and it will open in the desired program. But if there is a file and there is no program for opening it, or the wrong program (or the best one) is installed, then the file will not open at all, or it will open, as they say, “crookedly”. Therefore, for beginners, I would like to clarify which basic file formats will occur and with what they can be opened.

To begin with, each file format has its own unique extension. It allows you to understand what this file is and how it can be opened. An extension is 3-4 characters that appear at the end of the file. Example:

In the image above, I noted the extensions of 3 files: bat, txt, pdf. But it may be that in Windows at the end of the file name the extension will not be visible. Such settings in Windows are set initially. In this case, you can find out the file extension by clicking on it with the right mouse button and selecting "Properties":

In the window that opens, there will be a line “File type” and in front of it will be indicated the type with the extension:

Inexperienced users may also be more confused by the fact that the same file can often be opened by several programs.

Basic file types

We turn to the consideration of the main file types.

Text Document (.txt)

This is a regular file containing only textual information. Those. Pictures can not be added to it. This file is suitable just to quickly jot down some text, a note, for example, and, if necessary, print it.

You can create and open this file with any text editor. Standardly in Windows, this file is opened using Notepad and this is the best option. If you wish, you can open it with some other, more powerful text editor, for example, Microsoft Word, OpenOffice Writer, etc.

Microsoft Office Word Document (.doc, .docx)

This is a file that is usually created in Microsoft Word, which is a powerful text editor. This file may contain text, decorated as you like, of any complexity, as well as graphic elements, such as images, figures, etc. A file of this format is needed if you need to arrange the text, for example, to print or arrange any documentation on work, write articles.

You can open files of this type both through the same Word and through other advanced text editors, for example, the free version of Word Word OpenOffice.

Microsoft Excel Sheet (.xls, .xlsx)

This file, usually created in Microsoft Excel, is designed for formatting and working with tables. Thus, working in such a file is useful to you only when you need to issue some complex tables.

You can open a file of this format through the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet editor or similar programs, for example, through the free analogue of OpenOffice Calc.

Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation (.PPT, .PPTX)

This file contains presentations that are usually developed using Microsoft PowerPoint. A presentation is a set of slides, with text, pictures that can change with different effects, at regular intervals and accompanied by music. It may be necessary to create presentations in various cases, for example, to demonstrate any information clearly.

To open a presentation for viewing in Windows, initially there is not a single program, so it needs to be installed. To view, you can use the program Microsoft PowerPoint, and its analogues, for example, free OpenOffice Impress. To create presentations you can use the same programs.

HTML document (.HTML, .HTM)

This is a file containing a web page. For example, if you save any page of any site, then it will be in the default format .HTML. In such files, various books, instructions, courses are often drawn up, because they are then quite conveniently viewed.

To browse such files any browser is used and in Windows at least one will be installed as standard, for example, Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge. In order to create HTML files, it is best to use special HTML editors, but you can get by with the standard Windows block.

Image files (.JPG / .JPEG, .PNG, .BMP, .GIF)

These are files that represent photos or any pictures. Above, I listed only the main extensions that the image files may have, but there are many more that are less common. Special graphic editors are used to create images (drawings), for example, Paint (which is the simplest graphic editor and built into Windows initially), Adobe Photoshop, GIMP, etc. The last 2 listed are powerful graphic editors through which you can professionally process photos, -or draw, correct and save as an image file.

You can open image files with very many programs. The main thing here is to understand that you can open such files for easy viewing and for such a case in Windows there is already at least one program standard, for example, “Windows Photo Viewer” or “Photos”. And you can open such files for editing and for this purpose completely different programs are used, for example, the ones I mentioned above (Photoshop and GIMP).

Video files (.MP4, .AVI, .MOV, .3GP, .WMV, .MKV)

These are files that contain some kind of video, for example, a short video shot on a camera or a movie. The above are just basic video file formats, but they are much larger and for a beginner it is not so important to know how they all differ from each other, because one and the same files. Accordingly, to create such a file, you need to record some video on the camera and transfer into the computer. Or, download some video from the Internet and most likely it will be in one of these formats.

In order to open a video file, at least one program is already preinstalled in Windows, for example, Windows Media Player. With it, you can open the file and watch the video. Also, video files can be opened for editing and for this purpose completely different programs are used, with the help of which you can cut the video into necessary pieces, add various transition effects, callouts and more. Examples of such video editing software are: Sony Vegas, Camtasia Studio, Pinnacle Studio. The best and most convenient video editing software is paid.

Sound (music) files (.MP3, .AAC., WMA, WAV)

These are files that contain music or some other sound. The above are the main formats of sound files that occur most often, and there are so many more. To get such a file, you need to record your voice through some program for recording sound or, for example, create music through some other special program.

Sound files are opened in Windows initially with one of the standard Windows programs, for example, “Windows Media Player”, “Groove Music”. Music files can also be edited and for this purpose separate audio / video editors are used, for example, “Audacity”.

Files-archives (.ZIP, .RAR, .7Z, .TAR)

An archive is a file that contains other files (including other archives) and folders in a compressed form. As an example, there is a box and some things are put into it. Here the box in this example acts as an archive. Files are archived so that, for example, it is not possible to transfer multiple files and folders over the Internet at once, but only one archive, unpacking which all files and folders packed into it will appear. Very often in the archives downloaded various programs from the Internet and much more.

Standardly in Windows there is a program for opening only one type of archive - .ZIP and others (for example, .RAR, .7Z) without installing a special archiver program it will be impossible to open. To open all other types of archives, you need to install an archiver program. They are many varieties, but the most popular are 7Zip and WinRAR. Both of these archivers will be able to work with any types of archives.

The archive must be opened to view those files and folders that it contains, as well as to unpack it.

You can learn more about archivers from the article:

What is an archiver for and how to use it?

Adobe Acrobat Document (.PDF)

This is a file that represents a book, instruction, description of something, in a form convenient for viewing and reading. Generally .PDF - book format. You can create this type of document only with the help of special programs, for example PDF24 Creator or similar. This file also allows you to protect information, i.e. to prohibit copying from a document, printing and other functions.

In the latest versions of Windows (Windows 8 and 10), the standard in the set of programs already has one that allows you to open PDF files, but it is not very convenient. In older versions of Windows, such a program is not in the collection at all and it has to be downloaded from the Internet and installed so that PDF files can be opened. The best program for viewing such files - Adobe Acrobat Reader.


In principle, these are the most basic file types that are constantly encountered when working in Windows. I will replenish the article as far as possible, add information for new users on other types of files - what they are and what they can be opened with and what they can be created with.

Have a nice day and good mood! :)