Know Your Files — Show Your File Extensions on Mac OS X

how-to-show-file-format-extensions-macApple products like to hide the ugly inner workings of the computer from you — that “magic” feeling you get from a Mac or an iPhone is enhanced by the fact that you can’t see how it works!

In recent versions of Mac OS X, they started hiding file extensions (like .mp3, .jpeg, or .docx) in the Finder.

This can be great if you just want to focus on your creative work, but just know that it also makes you completely dependent on Apple to decide for you which app should open which file, and disempowers you from making that choice yourself.

It also means that you don’t get the opportunity to learn simple (and useful) information like what file formats you’re working with. Knowing that information can be critically important when managing a complex project where you have to share files with collaborators, switch between multiple authoring apps, or convert file formats to work well on the web. In fact, I think it’s better to always know what kind of file you’re working with!

Know Your Files: Show The FileNames!

I challenge you to setup your Mac so you can see what kinds of files you normally work with, and commit the most common ones you work with to memory.

Your File Extensions

  1. Choose Finder > Preferences, and then click Advanced.
  2. Select or deselect “Show all filename extensions.”

I’m big on building learning experiences into the way you work. If you work a lot with a certain kind of file, just seeing its file format around when you go to click on it will be enough to cement those formats into your memory. Try it! One day soon, you’ll thank me!



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Written by

Ted Curran is a Learning Experience Designer/Developer for Autodesk. He is committed to empowering educators and learners to create transformational change through effective pedagogy and technology integration. You can follow Ted on Mastodon, LinkedIn or learn more at my 'About" page. These thoughts are my own.

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