Is it not possible to get rid of file extensions?

One of the recurring problems that I deal with at work is people renaming files and deleting the file extension while doing so. Then the file gets sent to important people who respond in a rage that they can’t open it causing much flapping and running in circles…

Surely there is a way to dispense with file extensions and make part of the initial code in the file info on what application it needs or is it so ingrained in the Way Things are Done [sup]TM[/sup] that is would be to complex to change?


Sure, it’s possible, because there are other operating systems that don’t require it. The default setting is to not show the extension in Windows Explorer, so that shows that MS thought this might be extraneous or confusing, and only valuable to “power” users. I do not know the internals of Windows, but clearly it could be changed to store the file type as part of the directory data, or embedded in the file itself. Either one would require fundamental changes in file handling (though I doubt it would be more complex than some of the other changes that get put into successive version of Windows), but even more fundamental changes in the user.

IMHO it is too ingrained too change, with minimal benefit. I have never received a file from someone who removed the extension; I think you have somewhat distinctive group of people where you work.

Not without rewriting the whole code for the OS, no. The extension is what gets associated with “programs that can open this”.

What’s possible to do is set people’s computers to not show the file extension as part of the filename, so that if they’re renaming a file directly (i.e., from the OS, not using a “Save As…”) the extension can’t be overwritten. But that’s a viable solution only if you have that kind of control over people’s computers (that is, your IT people may be amenable to doing it), if people are doing the rename in their personal computers you’re out of luck.
CookingWithGas - “the system doesn’t show the extension” is not the same as “there is no extension”. I can’t see your navel, but I’m reasonably sure you have one.

Well I’m using Ubuntu and nautilus (ie, the Windows Explorer equivalent) can tell the difference between text, video and audio files no matter what their file extensions are. I don’t know how, though.

My wife doesn’t…

Not sure why you addressed this comment to me, because I never said the two were the same. In fact you went on to repeat something very similar to what I said.

The Macintosh OS has for years, used a concept called a resource fork which helps to identify the purpose in life for the related data fork, which as the name suggests, is a lump of data.

To the user, it’s very simple. You get a file called “Third Quarter Sales” and it has an Excel icon. There’s no .xls or .xlsx extension to get lost or renamed. Behind the scenes, it’s a fair bit more complicated - what looks like one single file is actually a bundle of two files - the data and the resource forks.

After all these years, I’m surprised nobody’s had any success in promoting a file standard that has a preamble or header that contains info on what kind of file, who made it, permissions, etc. Oh, wait…

So just turn off the file extension display. Problem solved.

The issue with reading the file is a matter of security – if it has to read each file in order to know what type of file it is, a hacker can put code into that and infect the computer, even without you clicking on the file. It also slows down the computer.

Simulpost, not repeat, unless you want to believe I’m the fastest typist ever.

I didn’t mean that you copied my post. I meant that you seemed to refute my point but said pretty much the same thing yourself. As far as simulposting, how is it a simulpost if you are responding to the same post?

Behold the Resource fork.
Now abandoned.

Every time I change an extension (under Windows XP) I get a warning to the effect that the file may not be usable as intended afterwards (a somewhat curious way of expressing the fact that it will lose the mapping to the proper application). Don’t your colleagues get that warning?

Yeah they do, as a former system admin, you would not believe the things that people just don’t get.

I’m sure that they do. However…

Do they read the warning?
Do they understand the warning?
Do they care what the warning says?

These are questions as yet unaddressed by the annals of science.


In windows explorer, click tools and then folder options. Check the box that says “Hide extensions for known file types”.

I am often surprised at otherwise intelligent peoples’ seeming inability to deal with computers.

Microsoft, for the hate magnet it seems to be, really is not that cryptic with its messages. I think it is pretty clear if you take the least bit of time to think about the message “if you change the file extension…”, however people quickly get hung up. They do not know that “file extension” refers to the three letters after the period and instead of doing a little thinking they give into frustration and ignore the communication as cryptic.

I remember my father eagerly playing with basic on a Sinclair computer and later a 286 he bought. He is an anesthesiologist and has to constantly keep himself up to date on the technology of his field, he has always loved gadgets. At some point however he threw up his hands and gave into future shock and seems completely baffled by windows computers.

My wife used to program in assembler for Novatel, yet she doesn’t understand what a bookmark is in her browser, let alone a tab. She doesn’t want to know anf looks at the technology as something forced upon her.

I really do not think Mac is that much easier but somehow the presentation or reputation is a little better at getting around people’s barriers.

On topic, I am surprised you would let regular users see file extensions in a work place.

Really? I don’t need to be able to tell if someone is sending me a Word document or a Powerpoint presentation? I shouldn’t care if that is an Excel template or a workbook?

Sounds like two groups of people need some training in how to properly use a computer, followed by additional training in anger management.

On the contrary. I want to see what kind of files I’m dealing with and I don’t like it when Windows just lump all picture files together, be they *.gif, *.jpg or whatever. They are not the same file type in my book.

Bring back DOS!

Is her name Eve?:dubious: