How to deal with file extensions & associations

Question

What is an ASP or .asp file and what program do you use to open them?

-Brian

Answer

This question was answered on July 8, 2002. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

The naming convention used for Windows based computers incorporates a filename and an extension The (typically) three-letter extension is used to identify the file type, which helps the computer and the human know which program is needed to open the file

For instance, Microsoft Word files typically have a ?.doc? extension (ex: financial.doc) When you initially install a program, it notifies the Windows ?Registry? of the file types that it will control by creating ?file associations? based on the three-letter extension.

That means, Windows will know to automatically launch Microsoft Word anytime a file that ends with the .doc extension is accessed.

This process for dealing with file types works well as long a two different programs do not use the same file associations.

In the case of .asp files, there are a number of different programs that can use the file extension, the most common being Microsoft?s Active Server Pages This type of ?asp? files are actually a small component of a web page that is dynamically created as you visit a web page, so they are in and of themselves of no use to you, unless you have the development tools that created them.

The other possibilities include ProComm Plus? ASPECT program, which a scripting language for the communications package, Astounds Presentation program or some obscure Photoshop file index and setup files.

This overlapping of programs is what causes the wrong program to launch when you double-click on a music file, video file or virtually any file that you may have The last program that you install will ?take over? the file extensions that it requires, unless you tell it not to during the install routine.

The most common situation that this occurs is in the various multimedia file such as .mp3, .mpg, .wav, and .avi that can be run from one of many programs that are likely to be installed in most computers.

Microsoft?s Media Player, Real Networks Real Player and Apple?s QuickTime program will all try to ?aquire? the rights to these (and many more) file types during the installation.

If a file association has not been established for a file type or you want to manually change it from one program to another, do the following:

Use My Computer or Windows Explorer to navigate to the folder that contains that file, and then hold the shift key down while you right-click on the file This should give you a dialog box with an option to ?Open with? When you choose ?Open with?, a box with an alphabetical list of installed programs will appear.

If you know which program you want to ?take over? ownership of the file type, simply highlight it, click on the ?Always use this program to open this type of file? box, then click on OK.

If you don?t know which programs will work with which file types, you will need to refer to one of the many web sites that indexes file extensions and their associated programs.

Some of the better ones include:

<a href="http://whatis.techtarget.com/fileFormatA/0,289933,sid9,00.html" target="_blank">www.whatis.com</a> - (a file extension search engine)

www.filext.com - (an alphabetical laundry list of file types)

www.webopedia.com - (an encyclopedia of terms)

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on July 8, 2002