We’ve been covering various types of file extensions.  A file extension is a way of identifying what type of file a file found on your PC, tablet, or phone is. It’s a way of helping you find the type of file you’re looking for and what sort of program to open it with.

If a file is called “catphoto.jpg,” the file extension is the three letters after the dot at the very end of the file name. The extension .jpg tells me that this is an image file and that I’ll need to open with a program that can view images. It also tells Windows to put this file into the picture library. Being able to identify extensions can help you understand what type of program is necessary to open them.

We’ve already covered document and image files.

Click here to read about documents. 

Click here to read about image files. 

Today we’ll look at the file extensions commonly associated with audio files. This can get a little tricky these days because some music services have proprietary formats that can only be played using an app designed for their particular service.

.mp3 –  MPEG Layer III audio – This is currently the most common sound file format. It’s a compressed format. .mp3 files take up less space than uncompressed files. You can fit over 1,000 songs on an 8 GB flash drive.  The way in which mp3 files are compressed means there is less perceived effect on sound than with other methods.  Most audio apps and programs will play mp3 files. There are a variety of portable music players that can handle them. Some CD players will also play mp3 files.

.wav  – waveform audio file – this format is used for Windows audio files. It’s most often used for CD-quality audio, so the files can be large.  These files can be played on a Windows PC/

.wma – Windows Media Audio – This propriety Windows format is best played with Windows media player or you can use third-party players like VLC. If you want to transfer to another device, your best bet is to convert the files to .mp3 first.

.aiff – Audio Interchange File Format- this is an Apple audio file. Pretty much the MAC equivalent of a .wav file.

.aac – Advanced Audio Coding – This is the default file format for iTunes, Nintendo, and other devices. this usually has a better sound quality than an .mp3 file.  You can play .aac files in iTunes.

.m4p – is a version of .aac used for files downloaded from the iTunes store.

.aa and .aax – this format is used by Amazon for their audible audiobooks.

.msv – a proprietary format used for compressed files on Sony Memory Sticks.

.dvf – a proprietary format used for Sony voice recorders.

.ra & .rm – these RealAudio formats were designed for streaming audio over the Internet.

.flac – Free Lossless Audio Codec – this open-source format can be played on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS as long as you have the right program or app. VLC player is a good choice for listening on a PC.

A file extension is a way of identifying what type of file a file found on your PC, tablet, or phone is. It’s a way of helping you find the type of file you’re looking for and what sort of program to open it with.

If a file is called “catphoto.jpg,” the file extension is the three letters after the dot at the very end of the file name. The extension .jpg tells me that this is an image file and that I’ll need to open with a program that can view images. It also tells Windows to put this file into the picture library.