File Type

The operating system should support the file system. If the OS does not recognize a file type then any operation on the file will not be successful.

The files are given an extension to indicate the type of file separated by a period or a dot.

For example,

  • – A java program source code file.
  • program.c – A C program source code file.
  • salary.doc – A MS Word document.
  • flower.jpg – An image file.

The above are some examples of file types which information in the form of text, image, programming code, audio, video and binary files.

The file type decide the operation on the file. You cannot read and image file, so you need an image viewer. Similarly, C source code file needs a C compiler, not any other programming language compiler.

Here is a list of common file types recognized by most operating systems:

File Type Extension Description
executables .exe, .com, .bin or none machine language programs that can run immediately.
object .o, .obj compiled code that are not linked
source code .c, .java, .cc, .asm, .a source code in programming languages
batch .bat, .sh contains commands for command interpreter
text .txt, .doc text documents
word processor .doc, .rtf, .rtf, .wp word processor text documents
library .lib, .a, .so, .dll library of builtin functions
print or view .jpg, .ps, .pdf ASCII or binary files for printing or viewing
archive .zip, .rar, .tar related files grouped into one file
multimedia .mpeg, .mov, .avi, .rm, .mp3 binary files containing audio, video


Abraham Silberschatz, Peter B. Galvin, Greg Gagne (July 29, 2008) Operating System Concepts, 8 edn., : Wiley.

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