File extensions may be part and parcel of everyday life when dealing with Windows, but here are a few tricks you can try, in order to make them much more manageable.
1. How to identify what any particular file extension does
At any given point of time, your system would have many different files with a myriad of file extensions. You’re probably familiar with the common ones like TXT for text files or EXE for executable program files. There are times however when a virus scanner or even Windows itself may ask you about a certain file type. Either that, or you’re looking through your registry and you come across all kinds of different files which are loaded up. In both cases, you probably don’t know what these files do.
So, here’s what you do. Use FILExt, a file extension dictionary which allows you look up any file extension (It currently has more than 50,000 records on file), and it shows you what type of programs typically use the file extension, and also provides a link to the company who makes the said programs, so you can follow-up with further investigation should you choose to do so.
Another cool part about FILExt is it also comes with a Google Desktop Gadget which allows you to submit your registry information to them and you can get a full text report made available to you.
2. How to give Windows Explorer a file extension column
Wait, doesn’t Windows Explorer ALREADY come with a file extension column? No, not really. What it really does is it allows you to sort files by type. This small 50kb DLL tool from XRayz Software allows you to add the extra extension column just like what you see in the picture below. Useful if you ever need this level of granular sorting.
3. How to build your own file extension icons
Icon Generator is a free Adobe Air tool which allows you to quickly and elegantly style and create cool shiny looking icons to be used as file extensions.
4. Where to find really cool file extension icons
Smashing Magazine, my favorite website for all things design has one of the best round-ups for file extension icons in town. Check out their post on 35 really incredible free icon sets. It’s a classic resource with tons of excellent places to get utterly gorgeous looking file icons.