Make Windows show file extensions and hidden files
Most files on Windows PCs have a File Name followed by a period followed by a "file extension" of three or more characters.
- PowerPoint files have names like FileName.PPT, FileName.PPTX and so on
- Image files have names like FileName.JPG, FileName.PNG, FileName.BMP and so on
But until you fix it, Windows hides the period + file extension from you.
This was a spectacularly bad decision by Microsoft.
The file extension tells Windows what type of file it is and what program to launch when you double-click the file's icon.
Sooner or later, you'll need to view or change a file extension or search for files of a certain extension, but as long as Windows is hiding your files from you, you can't do that.
Worse: If you need to find files of a certain extension, Windows Explorer's File Search feature won't find them if Windows is hiding extensions. That is, if you search for *.TXT, it won't find your .TXT files.
And Worse: Some programs, notably Office ones, won't even show extensions in file save/open dialog boxes. This can really turn round and bite you. Suppose you've learned that saving a file as a .PPS is the same as saving it as a PowerPoint Show. So you choose File, Save As, and add a .PPS extension to the file name in the Save dialog.
You think you've just saved MyShow.PPS
Wrong. Check for toothmarks on your sensitive bits. In fact, PowerPoint has tacked on its usual .PPT extension but since Windows is hiding file extensions from you, you don't see it. You've actually just saved MyShow.PPS.PPT ... which of course behaves like a regular PowerPoint file, not a Show.
And still worse, Windows also hides some files and folders from you altogether.
To avoid confusion, teach Windows to show you your stuff. Here's how:
- Go to Control Panel and click Folder Options
- Click the View tab of the Folder Options dialog box.
- Scroll down a bit and remove the check mark next to Hide extensions for known file types as shown below.
- Optionally, under Hidden files and folders click Show hidden files and folders
- While you're here, make sure the other options are set the way you want them for all folders on you computer
- Click OK