Top 20 most common file extensions for Windows

most common file extensions for Windows

Every once in a while, a person must visit the world of file formats and extensions, and at that point, the list of the most common file extension for Windows comes in handy.

Trust us, it is not a simple journey because there are a lot of different letters, features, and categories. Luckily, some of them are more popular than others.

We understand the struggle when it comes to choosing the right file format. That’s why we decided to point out only the most common file extensions for Windows devices. Sometimes, those file formats will not be the perfect ones, but at least your files will be compatible with numerous programs and apps.

How to open the most common file extensions for Windows

The first thing you should know is that most of the files from our list are a native format to different apps and software created especially for Windows devices. And in case they are not editable, they are usually at least openable.

If you install a program on our computer, or it the program is already there, at some point, the PC will ask you to choose the default program to open specific types of files. For example, if there is an AIMP Player, it will allow us to open the MP3 by default. On the other hand, the VLC will do the same with the videos and their file extensions. So basically, all you have to know which program is needed for which file category.

Luckily, Windows allows us to choose with which program we want to open each of the file extensions regardless of the fact if it is default one or not.

In case that the computer doesn’t recognize the format itself and can’t choose a default program, do the following: double-click on a window, and then choose the app you want to use.

Now, let’s start with the list of the most common file extensions for Windows.

1. DOC and DOCX

Everyone has, at some point in their lives, opened and used these types of files. So, naturally, DOC and DOCX are the first ones to talk about on our list of most common file extensions for Windows.

Both DOC and DOCX are the native formats of Microsoft Word and are mostly used for creating any types of documents with text, images, tables, and graphics in it. Students use it for essays, employees for most of the business as well as documents related to personal matters. They are easy to edit and compatible with different devices and programs.

Word-the most common file extensions for Windows

2. TXT

Although this file format is not as flexible as previously mentioned DOC or DOCX, the TXT file extension is still widely used. This type of file contains text only, without any other object such as images, tables, or graphs.

You must be wondering, in that case, why this file format is so commonly used. Well, it’s because it can securely store data, share it, and transfer the information across different platforms.

3. PDF

PDF file extension is another must on our list of top 20 most common file extensions for Windows. Why? Because all of us opened this type of file at least once in our lives.

Adobe designed this type of file extension to make documents a bit richer and more presentable. Besides plain text, PDF files can contain images, tables, graphics, 3D drawings, and other objects.

Another great thing about PDF files is that they can be edited with different online and offline tools, such as Adobe Acrobat or Sodapdf. With these apps, you can either create, or merge, compress, and edit all your PDF files. Or, if you are not a fan of PDF editors, you can always convert your documents to another format using a free online PDF converter.

4. HTM and HTML

HTM and HTML files are mostly associated with web pages. They contain a set of markup symbols or codes inserted in a file, and you can open them using any web browser and view them as a regular website.

Both HTM and HTML are the most common type of file formats used to build static webpages. Besides text and images, they can also contain links to audio, video, and scripts.

Plus, here’s another tip. You can easily rename an HTML file to HTM, and vice versa and the browser program will display it the same way. Pretty cool, right?

5. PPT and PPTX

If you ever needed to create any kind of presentation, the chances are you’ve used PowerPoint. And files created in the previously mentioned program, have PPT or PPTX file extension. The only difference between these two extensions is that the PPTX is the default one for PowerPoint 2007 and newer.

Well-known slides with a PPT or PPTX extension can contain text, tables, images, graphs, animations, audio, and video files. They can also be opened and edited with other programs besides PowerPoint, but the structure can be slightly different from the original.

PPT- most common file extensions for Windows

6. MP3

Let’s face it there is no list of most common file extensions for Windows that doesn’t have this audio file format on it. MP3 file extension is by far the most used one when it comes to audio files.

It is an audio file saved in a compressed audio format that uses Layer-3 audio compression. Besides music, this file format can contain other types of audio content such as lectures, podcasts, or audiobooks.

Because MP3 is so widely used, it can be opened with various audio players on every Windows and Mac device. The most popular ones are VideoLAN VLC media player, Nullsoft Winamp, Eltima Elmedia Player, Audacity, and Adobe Audition.

7. WMA

Windows Media Audio or WMA is an audio file saved in ASF and primarily used for streaming music from the web. WMA file extension, besides audio itself, also contains metadata objects such as the title, artist, album, and genre of the track.

It is a commonly used file extension that can be opened on different Windows devices, as well as those with the iOS system. In case your device doesn’t support this type of file format, you can always use WMA converter, online or offline, it’s your choice.

8. AVI

The universal video file format is an absolute must on our list of most common file extensions for Windows. That’s right, you’ve guessed it, we’re talking about AVI file extension. Microsoft created this file format that can store video and audio encoded in a variety of codecs, including DivX and XviD.

The AVI file can store high-quality video and audio, and it typically uses less compression than other similar video formats such as MPEG and MOV. However, it results in quite large AVI file sizes, which can be problematic for users with limited space. But, no worries, you can always compress it to another format or even to an archive file.

AVI - the most common file extensions for Windows

9. MOV

You must be wondering what an Apple file format is doing on our list of the most common file extensions for Windows. Well, there are a few reasons for it. For starters, the MOV file extension is widely used and compatible with various media applications.

MOV files can contain different objects, such as video, audio, timecode, and text tracks. The only trick with this type of file format is that to play MOV videos, an app you’re using for them must be able to recognize specific codec used in the file. For example, you can use QuickTime or VLC Media Player that can also convert MOV to another file format such as MP4 or OGG.

10. MP4

Although there’s no need for a special introduction of an MP4 file, we’re about to do it anyways. It is a widely-known file format that stores movies and video clips. As far as technical details go, MP4 file uses MPEG-4 compression for video and AAC compression for audio tracks.

This file extension is also commonly used for streaming videos on the Internet, and that’s why it is so compatible with different programs and devices.

MP4 file format is one of the most popular ones, and Apple is partially guilty for that. Why? Because Apple iTunes Store uses this file format for distributing most of its media.

11. JPG and JPEG

JPG and JPEG extensions are standard formats for images and another must on our list of the most common file extensions for Windows. But it’s not compatible only with Windows, JPG and JPEG are compatible with every existing operational system. 

Both JPG and JPEG are compressed image formats standardized by the Joint Photographic Experts Group, and they are used for storing most of the digital camera images. Besides compatibility with editors and platforms, this type of file is widely used for the web.

However, they are using lossy compression that can reduce the image quality if significant amounts of compression are used.

JPEG - most common file extensions for Windows

12. PNG

Portable Network Graphic or PNG is an image format that contains a bitmap compressed with lossless compression. It is used for storing web graphics, images with transparent background, and digital photographs.

It is another widely used file format on our list of the most common file extensions for Windows. It supports palette-based 24-bit RGB, or 32-bit RGBA color images as well as the grayscale images. PNG files are also quite popular amongst designers because they are great for logo and icon mockups.

You can open every PNG image with a large number of free and commercial programs, including most image and video editors, as well as web browsers.

13. GIF

Everybody loves an original GIF image, especially when it comes to online communication, right? But, let us talk about the technical details of a PNG file for a minute.

This file format is saved in a lossless format, and it can contain up to 256 indexed colors. They can be indexed with a color palette that contains a predefined set of colors, or they can be adapted to the colors in the image.

As we previously mentioned, GIF files are perfect for internet and web graphics, small images, and images that contain text. Another feature of this type of file format is the so-called animated GIF, which is mostly used for basic animations on websites.

14. PSD

Every photography enthusiast saw this type of file extension at least once. Adobe Photoshop created a PSD file as an image file that can be easily opened and edited with its professional editing program.

Any PSD file can contain image layers, layer masks, adjustment layers, annotations, keywords, file information, and other elements specific for Photoshop files. This file extension supports RGB, CMYK, grayscale, monochrome, duotone, indexed color, Lab color, and multichannel color modes. That’s why it is widely used amongst graphics designers and professional photographers.

Besides PSD file format, you can export your files with Photoshop in other formats like JPEG, GIF, and PNG.

PSD-most common file extensions for Windows

15. SVG

If you ever heard about a two-dimensional vector graphic format, the chances are you’ve come across SVG file extension. World Wide Web Consortium created this file format as an open standard to describe images using text format that is based on XML.

You can open, create, or export SVG images from all Adobe Creative Suite programs, such as Illustrator and GoLive, as well as SVG Kit for Adobe CS plug-in, which is developed by Scand.

16. AI

A drawing created in an Adobe Illustrator, one of the most popular vector graphics editing programs, has an AI file extension. Because of that, AI file extension is a must on our list of the most common file extension on Windows.

This type of file is commonly used for logos and print media because the graphics retain their details at the maximum zoom level. AI file is usually composed of paths connected by points, rather than bitmap image data.

You can open an Illustrator file with an AI file extension in Photoshop, but there is one thing you have to do first. You have to export documents with PDF Content saved within the file, or else the graphic won’t open.

However, if Photoshop is not an option for you, some other programs and tools can help you with AI file opening. The most popular ones are Adobe Acrobat, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, Inkscape, and sK1.

17. ZIP

Did you ever exchange data cross-platform? Or downloaded some files from the internet? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you have probably used the ZIP file format.

ZIP file is an archive of one or more compressed files, or should we say zipped files. It supports lossless data compression, and it’s compatible with most existing file compression and decompression programs.

This file extension is widely used mostly for sharing compressed files via email and downloading files online. Plus, every OS has at least one program that can open and decompress any ZIP file.

18. RAR

File format with slightly higher compression than ZIP is a RAR extension. RAR files are usually created with WinRAR compression program, but it can be used with many others as well.

If you want to store, or send via the internet, collection of files large in sizes, such as raw images or videos, you should probably use RAR file format. Besides file collections, you can use this extension to create spanned and multi-volume archives, which are split across various equally compressed files.

19. 7Z

Besides ZIP and RAR archive file formats, on our list of the most common file extensions for Windows, is one more format that needs to be mentioned – 7Z. This type of file extension uses an open-source LZMA compression, which means that 7Z files have a high compression ratio. Plus, they can include advanced 256-bit encryption.

Let’s face it we use archive files to save space for storage or when we need to transfer different kinds of documents, and we don’t care much about technical details, as long as the format gets the job done. And sometimes, it’s better to keep it that way.

20. XLSX

Of course that our list of the most common file extensions for Windows can’t be without a spreadsheet file format. So, here it is a format that stores data in worksheets, cells, rows, and columns. Yes, you’ve guessed it once more, we are talking about Excel’s XLSX file extension.

XLSX file format has an XML-based spreadsheet document with ZIP compression. They are mostly used for storing financial data or similar information to it that requires charts, math functions, and cell formatting.

XLSX-most common file extensions for Windows