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What are File Extensions

File system is one of the core components of any computer system. Information which needs to be preserved between computer reboots are always stored in files. Each file in the file system has a name and file extension. File name defines what is stored in the file and file extension defines in which format it is stored. In early computer days file name was limited to 8 symbols while file extension was limited to only 3 but with development of computer industry this shown not long enough for certain tasks. That’s why currently file name including file extension is limited to 255 symbols on most operating systems.

By using file extension operating system doesn’t need to look inside the file when user clicks on it to open. All it needs to do is to look at file extension and determine what application is capable of opening files in that format. In order to automate it each operating system keeps a database of mapping between file extensions and applications which can open them. If one extension could be opened by multiple different applications, then default application is assigned. If needed user can change default application for each extension in operating system user interface.

Searching for files is also considerably simplified because of file extensions. When you want to find all image files on your computer you can just issue a command to search for all files with PNG, JPG, PCX, JPEG, HEIC file extensions. Without file extensions computer would have to look inside each file to check which type of file it is and based on it determine if it is an image file or not. Same principle works with internet search. When you issue a search query for search engine to search something in images, search engine knows that it must search only within specific types of files and that also happens with the help of file extensions.

 

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BIN Quick Details
Binary File
MIME Type
  • application/mac-binary
  • application/macbinary
  • application/octet-stream
  • application/x-binary
  • application/x-macbinary
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