How to open unknown files – without extension

There are times when we are not quiet sure which program could be used to open a file. Worst case scenario is when the file doesn’t have an extension. Here are some ways in which you can recognize/open such files.

Try the extension at an online file extension archive.

Use a Universal File viwer to open the file.

If everything else fails open the file with a HEX editor or using Notepad. Look for the first few charecters. These will be the filetype headers in most cases. Here is a small list of filetypes and header charecters for popular file types.

MIME type File Extension Starting characters
image/ PNG ‰PNG
image/gif GIF GIF
image/jpeg JPG ÿØÿà
image/bmp BMP BM
imagge/tiff TIF II*
audio/mp3 MP3 ÿú
application/zip ZIP PK
application/rar RAR Rar!
application/pdf PDF %PDF

20 thoughts on “How to open unknown files – without extension”

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  11. Thank you for the information and the descriptive title. It’s allways a mess to search for information on the internet, just because the post title is not descriptive enough.

    I had a file with no extension but found the “ÐÏ” string in the header. Just to add some information, you can use this filetype with libre office.

  12. This post rocks. I have also found a FREE utility to hide files under jpeg image. I used it. It is a poor man’s digital steganography application

  13. Also, a lot of people don’t know about the hiding of extensions They can go to Control Panel -> Folder options -> View -> Deselect “Hide extensions for known file types-OFF”

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