App that can determine file type?

Posted on 2003-03-30
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2008-03-17
Is there such thing as a dos/windows app that can determine what type of file a specified file is when no extention/ invalid extention is given? Or an app that will go through popular file headers and compare to your file?
Question by:davidh_
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LVL 23

Expert Comment

ID: 8233487
I have never heard of one.  They use the extension to decide what program generated a file.
LVL 22

Expert Comment

ID: 8233950
Sometimes, you can open the file using the "Recover text from any file" as the file type from Word.

Sometimes, you can get information on the file that way. I think it appears at the end of the file, but I don't really recall.
LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 8234497
You can take a look at this to c if this works 4 u

Peek Freeware

Has anyone attempted to use "Peek" on any OS other than Windows 95? Peek is a Contextmenu Extension providing simple text extraction for any file. PEEK is a Shell contextmenu extension which allows you to extract only the text portion of files.Can be used to get an idea as to the contents of a file so that you might have some idea as to what program might open the file. It is a freeware. I'd appreciate any information. I noticed that it does exist for other OS however it appears to be in some other language (maybe German ??) Cynthia from G'ville.

From: Cynthia from G''villeSent: 2/27/2003 4:26 PM
A.     DENNIS, You can download from http://members.ping.at/mlubich/ I really don't know if you can change text or not. According to the information that I have been able to obtain thus far, this freeware is for Windows 95 and NT 4.0 If you have problems finding the download it is on ARIES Home Page which was apparently exclusively for providing a place to download "Peek". Hope this helps. Cynthia from G'ville


The only reason for this home page is currently to provide access to the freeware utility PEEK, a Shell Context Menu Extension for Windows95 and Windows NT 4.0.
To download the latest version click here
PEEK Version 1.1

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Accepted Solution

boyrage earned 100 total points
ID: 8236043
Hi davidh_

Most applications go by their trademark / copyrighted icons. So its easily identified which file type belongs to which.

For example Microsoft documents, powerpoint files, excel files will always be assigned the same respective icons.


If you wish to view *all* of the file's file type extension, click

Open up a folder,

Go to folder options,

Click View,

enable 'View all files' and disable 'hide file extensions for known file types'

This way, you can see every file's extension. It is important to disable 'hide file extensions for known file types' because virus in .exe format will be hidden and the actual file may be virus.doc.exe

If you didn't not disable 'hide file extensions for known file types', virus.doc.exe will be seen as virus.doc

Author Comment

ID: 8237175
Im looking because some p2p files have been renames so that when you do a search for "programs" it pops up (mostly on kazaa) so it really pisses me off when i have this huge file, and i cant open it up even after trying many diff. extentions.

Oh.... and that one of the first things i do after installing a fresh copy of windows is show ALL files including OS and knows ext.
LVL 38

Expert Comment

ID: 8237668
Some apps allow you to ignore the extension and open the file anyway (if it is a supported file type) but that has severe limitations. PhotoShop for example will only open raster image files.

There are so many different file types that it is not possible to determine what it is in a general case. Just think of the difference between database files, raster graphic files and vector graphic files. The types of data stored in them are inherently incompatible with each other. This does not mean that, say a database can't include raster images, but how do you know what's what?

Any app that tries to determine file type needs to rely on some specific features in the file. If a particular file format starts with some specific bytes (as Microsoft Office apps do) then it can be done. But not all files are that easy. As an extreme example, what about text files? Their format specifically prohibits any special header characters. In fact, *any* file can be opened in a text editor. Some characters the editor displays in the file might not be part of the standard ASCII set, but who's to say they're not part of some European language's special characters?

In conclusion, if you have some idea what your file is about, it may be possible. In general, there is no way of doing it reliably.

Expert Comment

ID: 8316687
Not exactly what you want, but helpful at times...


LVL 23

Expert Comment

ID: 8316741
If we want to go that route, take a look at www.file-ext.com

Assisted Solution

GiedriusT earned 100 total points
ID: 9533221
if yuo are using kazza and you get big exe files then 99% that whey are iso files
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 10106009
No comment has been added lately (94 days), so it's time to clean up this TA.
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RECOMMENDATION: split points between boyrage http:#8236043 and GiedriusT http:#9533221

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