Windows File Formats

Want to know what formats are supported by Windows? You’re in the right place!

Windows OS was first introduced in 1985 by Microsoft and soon dominated the world’s personal computers with over 90% market share. Nowadays it has slight competition with Mac OS and Linux, but it is still the most prevalent operational system when it comes to personal computers and laptops and there is a very small chance of it being overcome by its rival OSs.

The high popularity of Windows OS makes developers automatically assume, that average user has it installed on their computer. That is to say: overwhelming majority of programs and applications are first designed for Windows and only then they are ported to be used with Mac OS and Linux. A lot of programs that work good for Windows cannot work under its competitors. This makes Windows a first choice when somebody is installing an OS.

The formats we are going to discuss below are working in any version of Windows, but the viewer that you’re planning to use with them must be compatible with Windows OS or it wouldn’t perform correctly.

Useful tip: click on the extension of your interest to learn more about it and to find additional information on how to open it.

Text-Based Formats Supported by Windows

Even if there is no text redactor installed on your computer, the only text file format that can be opened without a trouble is TXT. Notepad is usually present in every computer along with Windows OS. With its help you will be able to open almost all of the database format files. You will also have a chance to open HTML file, or any files containing strings of text.

Typically, a Microsoft Windows Office (MWO) comes with Windows OS. If you were lucky to have one, you would be able to read PPT, PUB, XPS, RTF extensions and other formats associated with MWO.

Free software that manages text files as well as Microsoft Office Suite is Apache Open Office. It uses ODT file format but it's okay since ODT is widely supported.

Audio and Video Formats Supported by Windows

For the purposes of providing a user with an ability to open video and audio files, Windows OS developers included a Windows Media Player that covers most common video and audio formats. It has its own extensions (example, ASF, WMA, WMV formats, etc.) but supports third-party formats.

Windows Media Player supports the following extensions:

.avi (Audio Video Interleave File)

.mp4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)

.mpeg4 (MPEG-4 Video File)

.mov (Apple Quick Time Movie File)

.flv (Flash Video File)

.m2ts (MPEG-2 Transport Stream)

.flac (Free Lossless Audio Codec File)

.wav (Waveform Audio Format)

.mp3 (MP3 Audio File)

.cda (CD Audio Track)

.aiff (Audio Interchange File Format)

.midi (Musical Instrument Digital Interface)

Additional file formats might be supported if new codecs are installed.

To have access to other formats you would have to download a player like KMP or any other free player that can be found online. There are online players too.

Graphic Formats Supported by Windows

Windows has proprietary free photo viewer called Windows Photo Viewer or Microsoft Photos or Windows Photo Gallery (depends on what Windows OS version is installed on your PC) that comes with yours OC when you install it. Some of those are outdated

Images are rather undemanding when it comes to view them. Your computer should be capable to open all sorts of graphic files from very old EPS to constantly updating its standards PSD.

.jpeg (Joint Photographic Group)

.png (Portable Network Graphic)

.tiff (Tagged Image File Format)

.svg (Scalable Vector Graphics)

.ai (Adobe Illustrator Artwork)

.eps (Encapsulated PostScript)

Graphic Image Formats (JPEG, SVG, etc.) can be easily viewed using Window's own image viewer. However, to edit those there is a Paint application, but its functionality is very limited, so it’s better to get  third-party software.

Other Formats Supported by Windows

Windows does not support compressed folders itself, but a free version of WinRAR typically comes with the OS and it's quite enough to handle ZIP and RAR files.

All kinds of execution format (EXE) work within Windows OS perfectly, allowing user to install new applications on their PC.

The list of extensions is nowhere complete, but it covers information on the most common file formats that work in Windows OC without causing compatibility errors.

Data Formats

Executable Formats

.zip extension

.rar extension

.7z extension

.tar extension

.exe extension

.msi extension

.bin extension

.app extension