How to Safely Change a File Extension or File Type in Windows 10

Almost all files in Windows 10 have a. Sometimes, however, there may be a file you need in a different format. For example, your image is a .JPG file but you need it in .PNG format. To resolve this problem, you can rename the files in Windows Explorer and modify them automatically.

What is a file extension?

A file extension is a three-letter code at the end of the filename that tells your computer how to interpret it and how it was created. Some you may be familiar with include .exe, .jpg, .docx, and .txt.


When is it safe to change a file extension?

Although you can rename many files to change their file extensions, most “break” when you do. This is usually because the file type is specific to a certain code format.

In these cases, you will need to use file conversion as in the case of changing SVG image files to JPG or PNG.

If you just change the file extensions, you will have better luck changing a file format to one in the same category – like changing the file extension of generic text files from .txt to .nfo, .log.

However, if you change the file extension of an image (.jpg) to a text file (.txt), you will only get random numbers and letters when you open it. Likewise, if you were to turn a .txt file into an .exe file, nothing would happen if you tried to run it.

Therefore, it is best to only change a file extension if you have a good reason to do so. For example, you accidentally saved it in the wrong format or the file does not work in its current form. However, you can safely experiment by making a copy of your file and changing its file type instead of the original copy.

Without further ado, here’s how to change a file extension in Windows 10 by renaming it:

How to change the extension of a file in File Explorer

Although you can rename files in Windows 10 to change their extension, there are some settings you need to change first:

  1. Open File Explorer and press “Show” in the ribbon

  2. Check “File name extensions”

    You will find the option on the right side of the ribbon.

  3. Uncheck “Hide extensions for known file types”

    Now, still in the “View” tab of the file explorer, click on the button “Options” button on the far right. In the Folder Options window, click “Seen”, then scroll down until you find an option that reads “Hide extensions for known file types”. Check it off.

  4. Rename your files in Windows Explorer

    You should see that the file now has an extension next to its name, in our case .jpg. Right-click on the file (s) whose type you want to change in File Explorer and select “Rename”.

  5. How to change a file extension

    Replace the extension after your file name with whatever you want – in our case from .png to .jpg. When you’re done, tap Enter. A “Rename” dialog box will appear, warning you that the file may become unusable if you change its file type. If you are sure you have done your research, click on “Yes”.

    You have successfully changed your file to a different format.

If you found this Windows file extension tutorial useful, you might be interested in our other guides. Here’s how you can open and convert HEIC files, and view or edit SVG files. If your file has stopped working using this method, you can try renaming it or restoring the file through File History.


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Donald E. Hollingsworth

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