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When it comes to word processors, it’s a bit baffling that so many programs can’t read each other’s simple text. They are just letters of the alphabet after all, right? Any five year old can read the alphabet, so why can’t my computer? These are common document file types along with the programs that can read them:
DOC, Microsoft Document: used by Microsoft Word 2003. By far the most common and widely used document type, any word processor should be able to read a DOC.
DOCX, Microsoft Document 2007: similar to the DOC, but uses updated coding to accommodate new features included in Microsoft Word 2007. Microsoft Word 2007 and Corel WordPerfect will have no problem with DOCX.
TXT, text file: plain text file easily read by any word processor.
RTF, Rich Text Format: originally developed to preserve formatting such as indentations, spacing, italics, etc. Works with all word processors.
PDF, Portable Document Format: Adobe created the PDF as an image based alternative to other document types. To read a PDF, you need to download the Adobe PDF Reader—it’s free online.
ODT, OpenDocument Text: Document that requires the open source and free office suite, OpenOffice.
WPD, WordPerfect Document: Corel’s standard document type. Requires Corel WordPerfect.
Thankfully, spreadsheet formats aren’t nearly as varied as document file extensions. It’s easier to understand why a spreadsheet can be hard for third-party programs to read—they carry not only alphanumeric information, but also equations and operations. Common spreadsheet file types and associated programs:
XLS, Excel Spreadsheet: although XLS was developed as the proprietary format of Microsoft Excel, it is now usable on virtually all spreadsheet editors.
XLSX: Excel Spreadsheet 2007: Microsoft changed to the 2007 Excel format. Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice Calc, and Corel Quattro can read the XLSX file type.
ODS: OpenDocument Spreadsheet: OpenOffice’s spreadsheet format. ODS file types require a copy of the open source office program OpenOffice.
Audio file formats by file extensions
There are dozens of different audio file formats, standards, and file extensions used today. Below is a list of the most common audio file extensions.
- .aif – AIF audio file
- .cda – CD audio track file
- .mid or .midi – MIDI audio file.
- .mp3 – MP3 audio file
- .mpa – MPEG-2 audio file
- .ogg – Ogg Vorbis audio file
- .wav – WAV file
- .wma – WMA audio file
- .wpl – Windows Media Player playlist
Compressed file extensions
Most computer users are familiar with the .zip compressed files, but there are other types of compressed files. Below is a list of the most common compressed file extensions.
- .7z – 7-Zip compressed file
- .arj – ARJ compressed file
- .deb – Debian software package file
- .pkg – Package file
- .rar – RAR file
- .rpm – Red Hat Package Manager
- .tar.gz – Tarball compressed file
- .z – Z compressed file
- .zip – Zip compressed file
Executable file extensions
The most common executable file are files ending with the .exe file extension. However, other files can also be run by themselves or with the aid of an interpreter.
- .apk – Android package file
- .bat – Batch file
- .bin – Binary file
- .cgi or .pl – Perl script file
- .com – MS-DOS command file
- .exe – Executable file
- .gadget – Windows gadget
- .jar – Java Archive file
- .py – Python file
- .wsf – Windows Script File
Image file formats by file extension