How to open unknown files

One of the most frequent problems many users encounter is inability to open and view what is inside certain files. There could be multiple reasons why it happens: application is not installed on user machine, file is corrupted or file has incorrect extension. In this article we will consider each of these situations one by one and give you advice how to deal with each of them.

Application is not installed

This is the most frequent reason why file could not be opened. Usually in that case Windows will display dialog box with following message: "Windows can't open file". To open this file, Windows needs to know what program you want to use to open it. Windows can go online to look it up automatically, or you can manually select from a list of programs that are installed on your computer." This message means that Windows have no idea what is inside the file and there are no application on the computer which could open it. It might be a good idea to go online and search for extension of the file and see if there is any description of what this extension is responsible for. If you find application capable of opening the file you can just download and/or buy it and get your task done. Don't pay for an application right away. It is always good to check whether freeware software exists on the market which could open your file. In 90% this is the case. Free software may not contain all cool features to edit the file but at least you will be able to find out what is inside.

File is corrupted

It is quite hard to distinguish this case from previous one since if software to open file is absent Windows will show you the same "Windows can't open file" message. To avoid the confusion you need to download software which can open the file as it is described in previous paragraph. If file is corrupted software which could understand the file type will report an error. If file is ok it will open it.

File has incorrect extension

If you found a software which should open your file but it fails to open it there may be a problem with file having an incorrect extension. In this case you need to check the place where you originally got the file in question and see if its file extension is correct. If it doesn't help you could try opening the file using Windows Notepad application and trying to see if you could recognize what is inside the file and associate an application with it. Most often this could be quite a challenging task but in some cases the answer may be obvious.