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This article describes how to change the extension of a file in Windows.
What is a File Extension?
In Windows, a file extension tells your computer what type of application to use to open a file. The file extension is a three-letter code that appears at the end of a file’s name, even though it is sometimes hidden (more information about this in a minute).
For example, if a file is named mythesis.doc, .doc is the file extension, and it tells Windows that the file was created using Microsoft Word. If a file is named mythesis.xls, the extension is .xls, which tells Microsoft Windows that the file was created using Excel.
So where are these file extensions located?
Windows hides all file extensions by default. The idea is that most people don’t want to bother with extensions, because changing the extension of a file can cause problems (if you change it to the wrong one), and because Windows usually deals with extensions behind the scenes. However, there may be times when you need to see file extensions, and you can do so by following these instructions.
How to Change a File Extension in Windows 10
NOTE: You should only change a file extension if you are sure it is the right one. Test the file thoroughly after the change. If it doesn’t work, you can easily change the file extension again – just remember what it was!
Let’s say you have a RAW photo that takes up too much space on your website or computer and you want to edit it or convert it to a smaller file, such as a JPG or PNG.
You can do this by opening the RAW photo in an image editing program and changing the file extension in the Save As or Export As menu.
You can also do this by right-clicking the unopened file and clicking the “Rename” option. Just change the file extension of the file format you want and your computer will do the conversion work for you.
Using the Command Line
For those of you who are familiar with the command line, there is a very simple command that allows you to perform very simple file renaming tasks. There are two commands you can use at the command prompt: Rename and Rename. Both do exactly the same thing, so it’s simply a matter of preference as to which one you use.
If you have a folder containing a number of JPGs and you want to change the file extension to, say, PNG, you need to type the following command :
ren *.jpg *.png
As you can see above, the command changed all files in this directory with a JPG file extension to those with a PNG file extension.
To do this, under Windows 10, you must first force the system to show you the file extensions next to the file name.
- Open the file explorer by pressing the Windows key and the “E” key at the same time. You can also double-click the “This PC” icon on your desktop.
- Click on the “View” tab in the top menu.
- The ribbon at the top of the window should display the available viewing options.
- Locate the “File Name Extensions” option on the ribbon and check the appropriate box.
- This allows you to see the extension of each file at the end of its name and to change it by renaming the file.
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