Displaying File Extensions

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 31, 2020)

By default, Windows is configured so that file extensions are not displayed—at least they aren't displayed for extensions that Windows recognizes. So instead of seeing a file whose name is "MyFile.txt," Windows only displays "MyFile." This could get confusing if you have different types of files with the same name, like "MyFile.txt," "MyFile.docx," "MyFile.jpg," etc. Each of these—because Windows recognizes the extension—would be displayed simply as "MyFile."

To eliminate the possibility for confusion, many users change how Windows is configured so that it displays the file extensions. This allows you to see the full name of every file you work with.

To turn on the display of file extensions, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Control Panel.
  2. Click the Appearance and Personalization link.
  3. Click Folder Options (Windows 7 and Windows 8) or File Explorer Options (Windows 10). Windows displays the Folder Options (or File Explorer Options) dialog box.
  4. Make sure the View tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The View tab of the File Explorer Options dialog box.

  6. Clear the Hide Extensions for Known File Types checkbox.
  7. Click OK.

The checkbox in step 5 determines whether the system should hide extensions for known file types. The checkbox is selected by default, so file extensions are not displayed. When you clear it (and then click OK), the extensions are immediately unhidden, and you can see full file names.

An interesting tidbit if you are using Windows 10: You can also change the setting by going through the File Explorer. Display a File Explorer window, click the View tab, and then click the Options tool. You see the exact same File Explorer Options dialog box, but this time it is named Folder Options, just as in earlier versions of Windows.

 This tip (12859) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Opening a Template

If you have a template stored on disk, you can open it and make changes to it just as you do other documents. This tip ...

Discover More

Finding the Size of a Workbook

Keeping tabs on the size of a workbook can be important when using Excel. You have a couple of options that will allow ...

Discover More

Getting Help Offline

Word provides two different sources from which you can get help—either online or offline. By default, Word uses the ...

Discover More
More WindowsTips

Defragmenting a Hard Drive

As files are added, removed, and edited on a hard drive, the files and the disk itself become fragmented. This causes ...

Discover More

Copying Data with XCopy

XCopy is a file and directory copy utility built into Windows. If you have a lot of file management to do that can't ...

Discover More

Working with Compressed Files and Folders via Zip

Windows 10 provides multiple ways to work with compressed files and folders. One great way is to use the Zip utility, ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is one more than 7?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.