File format

Updated: 02/27/2019 by Computer Hope
An image containing various file formats.

The file format is the structure of a file that tells a program how to display its contents. For example, a Microsoft Word document saved in the .DOC file format is best viewed in Microsoft Word. Even if another program can open the file, it may not have all the features needed to display the document correctly.

Programs that are compatible with a file format may be able to give an overview of a file but may not be able to display all the files features. Also, with some programs opening a file format that is not supported may give you garbage.

Common file formats

Below is a listing of common file formats you are most likely to encounter while working on a computer. Click on any of the links below for more information about the type of file or the extension.

File type File extension
Text .asc .doc .docx .rtf .msg .txt .wpd .wps
Image .bmp .eps .gif .jpg .pict .png .psd .tif
Sound .aac .au .mid .mp3 .ra .snd .wma .wav
Video .avi .mp4 .mpg .mov .wmv
Program .bat .com .exe
Compressed .arc .arj .gz .hqx .rar .sit .tar .z .zip

File, File extension, Software terms