Featured - How to show File Extensions in Windows

While Microsoft’s preview thumbnails give an idea of the category of file you’re looking at, sometimes it’s necessary to know exact file extensions. In this tutorial, we’ll be teaching you how to show file extensions in Windows 10 using three methods – but first, a little about what they are:

What are file extensions?

File extensions are the letters you see following the ‘.’ at the end of a file name. They are usually two to four characters long and reveal exactly what file type an image or document is.

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Images, for example, commonly come in the .jpg, .png, .tif, and .gif formats. When you show file extensions in Windows 10, you’ll see these suffixes at the end of files and can therefore make more informed decisions about what to do with them.

File extensions are also quite beneficial for security. Malware creators sometimes disguise some file types as overs. They may, for example, send you a file named accounts.xls. Once you show file extensions, you would see that it was, in fact, accounts.xls.exe. 

With that brief explanation out of the way, let’s jump into how to view file extensions in Windows 10, starting with the Control Panel:

How to Show File Extensions in Windows 10 via Folder Options

The Control Panel may be legacy software at this point, but it’s still one of the best ways in Windows to show filename extensions. Here’s how you can use it to do so:

  1. Open Control Panel
     

    Press Start and type “Control Panel”, then click the top result.

    Windows 10 - Open Control Panel

  2. Click “Appearance and Personalization”
     

    Windows 10 - Control Panel - Open Appearance and Personalization

  3. Click “File Explorer Options”
     

    Windows 10 - Control Panel - Appearance and Personalization - Open File Exlplorer Options

  4. Open the “View” tab and untick “Hide extensions for known file types”
     

    Press “Apply” and “OK” when you’re done.

    Windows 10 - Control Panel - Appearance and Personalization - File Exlplorer Options - View - Uncheck Hide Extensions

  5. OR: Untick the option via File Explorer
     

    Press Start and then type “File Explorer”. Click the top result.

    Windows 10 - Open File Explorer

  6. Open folder and search options
     

    You’ll find the settings under the “View” tab of your ribbon. Click “Options > Change folder and search options” to access it.

    Windows 10 - File Explorer - Options - Open Change Folder And Search Options

  7. Untick “Hide extensions for known file types”
     

    Press “Apply” and “OK” to instantly apply the setting.

    Windows 10 - File Exlplorer - Options - Change Folder and Search Options - View - Uncheck Hide Extensions

How to Show File Extensions in Windows 10 via File Explorer

The fastest way to view file extensions in Windows 10 is through File Explorer’s trusty view ribbon. This method takes just a few clicks to execute.

  1. Open File Explorer
     

    Press Start and type “File Explorer”, then click the top result. Alternatively, press Windows + E.

    Windows 10 - Open File Explorer

  2. Open the “View” tab and tick “File name extensions”
     

    Windows 10 - File Explorer - View - Check File Name Extensions

How to Enable Filename Extensions in Windows 10 Using the Registry Editor

If for some reason you prefer to make changes via the registry – if you’re an IT admin for example – you can modify show file extensions there too. Here’s how:

  1. Open regedit
     

    Press Start and then type “Registry Editor”. Click the top result.

    Windows 10 - Open Registry Editor

  2. Navigate the Explorer registry key and modify the “HideFileExt” entry
     

    You can get to the Explorer registry key quickly by pasting the following in your Registry Editor address bar:

    Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced

    Double-click “HideFileExt” to open the editing menu.

    Windows 10 - Registry Editor - Navigate to the Key - Open HideFileExt

  3. Change the value data to “0” and press “OK”
     

    When you open File Explorer, you should notice that you can now view file extensions.

    Windows 10 - Registry Editor - Navigate to the Key - HideFileExt - Value Data 0 - Ok

Enable File Extensions with Command Prompt

Finally, if you’re on a GUI-less install or just prefer the Command Line, you can make the same registry change from your trusty Command Prompt. A single command is all it takes:

  1. Open Command Prompt
     

    Press Start and type “Command Prompt”, then click “Run as administrator” on the left-hand side.

    Windows 10 - Open Elevated Command Prompt

  2. Run the registry modification command to show file extensions
     

    In your Command Prompt window, copy the following and paste it using right-click:

    reg add HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced \v HideFileExt \t REG DWORD \d 0 \f

    You should receive the message, “The operation completed successfully.”.

    Windows 10 - Elevated Command Prompt - Enter the Command to Show File Extensions

  3. OR: Run the command to hide file extensions
     

    If you want to revert the changes, all you need to do is change the number after /d to 1:

    reg add HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced \v HideFileExt \t REG DWORD \d 1 \f

    Paste in the command and press Enter to make the changes.

    Windows 10 - Elevated Command Prompt - Enter the Command to Hide File Extensions

How to Change a File Extension in Windows 10

Now that you know how to show file extensions in Windows 10, you may be wondering how to modify them. Thankfully, we have a dedicated tutorial on how to change a file extension in Windows 10. If you’re still struggling to find your folder options, you can also try a method in our dedicated tutorial.

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