How to Open Unknown File Types
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Struggling with a Stubborn Unknown File?
In order to open any file you must have software that is applicable with that file type. This software is able to decipher the code and display or execute the resulting file in the appropriate manner.

This means that without the proper application it is typically impossible to work with the file as you would with a recognized file type.
It may be possible that certain file types can be viewed or previewed with certain applications but can only be edited with other programs. Again, this isn't uncommon, and depending on the action you need to take with that file you will need to get the appropriate application. Image files are a common example of this. Applications such as the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer can be used to adequately view the images but in order to edit the file you will need to use another application such as Paint.


Previewing a File Extension

As well as using the application that first created the file it may be possible to use a file pre-viewer to preview the contents. In some cases this can even be done using the text editor that is installed on your computer already. Whether you use WordPad or any other text editor it may be possible to see the contents of a file using this method. Simple right click on the file and select Open With and then click Browse to browse your computer and find the text editor you want to use.
Third party previewing software can also be used. These file viewers obviously do not offer the capability to work with or edit the file in question but they do provide a good snapshot of the file contents. Using this preview you can determine whether you want to view and edit the file fully, in which you will need to purchase or acquire the appropriate program, or if the preview is enough.
The first step in opening an unknown file type is obviously to determine the software you will need. Later in this guide is a list of common file extensions and the application or applications that can be used to view or edit these files. With literally thousands of different extensions it is not possible to include every single one in this guide, but those that are not included can usually be found by searching online using the extension as the search phrase.
Once you have found the application you will need to purchase, download, and install it to your computer and then open the file. Depending on the application you may be prompted when installing the program to determine the file types you wish to open with this software. Alternatively, when you attempt to open a relevant file extension and are prompted to decide on the software to use you should tick the box to open all files of this type with that software. In the future when you attempt to open files of this type your Windows operating system will know the application to use in the future.
Every file type is structurally different. Without using the proper application to open a file the architecture of the file can not be read and the file can not be viewed or edited properly. For this reason, the biggest part of the challenge of opening an unknown file type, is finding the proper software that is most closely and regularly associated with that file structure.
Some file types can be converted to another format for opening with an application you have. For example a 123 file is a Lotus spreadsheet file but using a conversion tool it is possible to open the file in Microsoft Excel in order that you can view and edit the contents using Excel instead. This also negates the need to purchase a copy of the Lotus 123 software.


          Continue to the next section titled Associating File Extensions With the right Programs

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