Have you ever wondered how the operating system shows a suitable application to open your specific file type? Well, they use the file extension to determine which available app might be able to open your file successfully and thus recommend it to you.
Although you could just rename the file and change it to a different format, it isn’t as simple as that and might not work perfectly. And, if done incorrectly, you may corrupt the file or lose some data in the process.
So how do you actually change the file type? In this article, we have mentioned various ways to change the file type successfully.
How to Change File Type?
Since renaming doesn’t always work as expected, you can use the application’s save as/export feature to change the file type.
Likewise, you can also use a third-party application or convert it using online converters.
Check File Type
By default, file type/ file extension isn’t displayed on both Windows and Mac systems. However, you can easily view the extension of any file.
After a file is downloaded, your system’s security flags them as a virus or not based on their file type. For instance, if a supposed text file you downloaded off the Internet is in EXE format, it’s likely a virus.
Furthermore, you can also reveal the file type to rename and change it to a different format.
Nonetheless, here’s how you can view the file extension on Windows and Mac.
- Navigate to the file location.
- Click the View menu from the top bar.
- On Windows 10, enable the File name extensions checkbox.
On Windows 11, select Show > File name extensions.
- Open the Finder app.
- Click Finder in the top left corner and select Preferences.
- Then, under the Advanced tab, enable the Show all filename extensions checkbox.
Rename the File
While you can rename the file and change its file type, it won’t work most of the time. Instead, you get an error like “Can’t open this file” or receive garbage text which makes no sense.
This happens because renaming doesn’t actually change the file format. For instance, even if you rename and change a .jpg file to a .mp3 file, your image wouldn’t magically convert to an audio file.
On the other hand, changing file type may work in the case of similar files like DOC to TXT, MP3 to WAV, or MP4 to MKV. Now, this works only because the application is smart enough to differentiate between different kinds of files (audio, video, text document).
But, it fails to work when you change the file format to a completely different file type. However, if someone wrongfully changed the file extension, you can rename it to the correct file type to open a file.
Likewise, sometimes a file doesn’t have an extension and is of FILE file type. Or, if a file isn’t opening, you can try changing its file format to a different one and try opening it. For instance, if a video file isn’t opening, try changing it to another format such as MKV, and the video might play.
Nonetheless, here’s how you can rename your file for both Windows and Mac systems.
- First, reveal the file extension of your file as mentioned in the above section. Otherwise, the system will append the extension to the file name.
- Now, right-click on it and select the Rename option. On Windows 11, select Show More Options > Rename.
- Delete the old extension and replace it with the right one.
- Press Enter when done.
Using the Save As or Export Feature
Many applications provide an option to save as/export your file into a different format. So, after completing the work, you can convert your file to your preferred file type.
For instance, if you are working on a Word document, you can change its file type as follows.
- Open the Word document.
- Navigate to File > Save As. Alternatively, use the shortcut key Ctrl + S on Windows and Command + S on Mac.
- Provide a filename and the location where you want to save it.
- Then, next to the Save as type field, select a different format according to your preference.
- Click Save.
Using Online Conversion Tools
You can use various third-party file conversion tools to convert the file type. Here’s how you can use them.
- Open a browser and search for “convert [current file type] to [preferred file type].”
- Upload your file to an online conversion site.
- Choose the available file format options to convert your file.
- Start the conversion process and wait for it to complete.
- Download the output file to your PC.
Likewise, you can find various applications that can convert files into different formats.
However, if you upload a password-protected file/document, even the online converters won’t be able to convert it.
How to Change the Default Application to Open Specific File Types?
If changing the file type doesn’t work well, you can set another compatible application to open it.
Here’s how you can do it.
On Windows 10
- Press Windows + X and select Apps and features.
- Then, click Default Apps in the left sidebar.
- Scroll down and select the Choose default apps by file type option.
- Select the default app for each file type according to your preferences.
On Windows 11
- Press Windows + I to open the Settings app.
- Click Apps in the sidebar.
- Now, in the right pane, select Default apps.
- Under the Related Settings section, select Choose defaults by file type.
- Select the file type for which you want to change the default app.
- Under the Other options, click More Apps and select your preferred app.
Alternatively, right-click on a file for which you want to change the default app to open.
Then, hover over Open with and select another app. If you don’t find the preferred app, click Choose another app and click More apps.
Finally, enable the Always use this app to open … files to set the new default app for that specific file type.
- Select the file for which you want to change the default app.
- Right-click on it and select Get info.
- Then, on the next window prompt, scroll to the Open With section.
- Select a preferred different application to open files of the same type and click Change All.
- Click Continue to confirm and save changes.
How to Change an Image’s File Type on Mac?
You can easily use the Quick Actions feature on Mac to change your image file type. Follow the steps below to do it.
- Navigate to the image for which you want to change the file type.
- Right-click on it and select Quick Actions > Convert Image.
- On the Convert Image prompt, choose a different file type next to the Format field.
- Click the “Convert to …” when done.
I Downloaded a File but It Doesn’t Have an Extension. How Do I Open It?
Sometimes when downloading a file from the Internet, your file may not have any extension. And, when you view its file type, it has FILE file type. You can use the above methods to change its file type to a suitable one.