Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who can assist me?


Q: What's a file extension?

A: A file extension is a group of 3 or 4 letters at the end of a file name. The extension is generally separated from the file name by a period (or dot). For example, in the file name RESUME.doc, the extension is "doc." The extension tells you that the file is a particular type. In this example, a .doc file is a word-processing document created with Microsoft Word or a Word-compatible program.


Q: Do I need a separate program for each file extension?

A: Sometimes but not always. Often programs that perform a similar function (e.g., word-processing programs, graphics editing programs, or accounting programs) can be used with more than one file extension. For example, if you have a file called BANNER.gif, there are dozens of graphics programs that work with the file extension "gif." All you need is one of these programs to be able to view and edit .gif files.


Q: I used to be able to open these files? What happened? Why can't Windows open them now?

A: A couple of things might have happened. The most likely answer is that you once had a program on your computer that was able to work with this file extension, and now the program is gone. You might have uninstalled the program or deleted it in some other way. Or you could have installed a new program on your computer that supports this file type. New programs often make themselves the default viewer for certain file types. If you later uninstalled the newer program, you might still have a program on your computer that will open the file type, but it is no longer associated with those files because of the newer program that was once installed. To fix this problem, just right-click the file that you want to open, and choose the appropriate program from the Open With choices.


Q: What is the impact of this feature on my privacy?

A: None. When you click "Auto-Lookup," the file extension (".zip" for example) is sent to this Web site in order to start a search for supporting software and information. No personal information is sent.


Q: The file extension I am looking for is not listed here.  What should I do?

A: We recommend that you search the web.


Q: Why doesn't Microsoft Windows automatically download and install the software?

A: Software downloaded from the internet can contain viruses or could cause security problems.  It is important that you know who manufactures the software and use that to decide if you want to download the software.


Q: How can System Administrators automatically install software?

A: System Administrators can use Microsoft deployment technologies to specify which applications should be installed for certain file extensions.  Computers using this deployment technology will automatically install the software the first time the user opens a file with this extension.  For more information, see ZAP files in the Windows 2000 or later resource kit under Desktop Configuration Management, Software Installation and Maintenance, and Windows Installer Technology.



Copyright 2013 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.  Contact Us | Terms of Use | Trademarks | Privacy Statement