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Determining the format of a file

March 2015

Determining a file format in a system using the Windows platform is crucial, as without that, it is impossible to open the file. The file format allows users to know which software is required to open the file. The file format can be determined easily through the extension name of the file that appears after the name of the file, followed by a dot. The extension name may be damaged, due to error while transferring via email, but even then, the type of the file can be found out. There are many utilities dedicated to this purpose. These tools based on the Magic database file format can determine the file type from its content.

Determining the format of a file




The simplest method for determining a file's type is to look at the file extension. However, sometimes this does not match the file type or the extension is hidden. Fortunately, there are utilities that can determine the type of a file based on its content. Many of these programs use a database called Magic database file format.

Two such utilities for Windows computers are listed below.

FileID


Download FileID here.

To use FileID:
  • Decompress the downloaded file
  • Open the Start menu and click Run
  • Launch the console by typing:
    cmd
  • Run the following command:
    file "name of file" -m magic.db -d
    • Replace "name of file" with the file you want to analyze

TrID


TrID works similarly to FileID. Download TrID here.

To use TrID:
  • Decompress the downloaded file
  • Open the Start menu and click Run
  • Launch the console by typing:
    cmd
  • Run the following command:
    trid "filename" 
    • Replace "filename" with the file you want to analyze
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