Malware authors love to disguise executable files as other file types, but Windows 10’s Show File Extensions blows their cover wide open.
You may not give much thought to the file extensions on your computer; as long as it opens, it doesn’t matter. The file extensions, on the other hand, should always be visible for security reasons. This way, you can quickly inspect the file type you want to open and identify any potential malware.
We’ve put together a quick reference guide to help you understand file extensions and keep your computer safe.
1. Enable File Name Extensions in File Explorer
The simplest way to make Windows Show File Extensions is to use File Explorer. Open the View tab in File Explorer and check the File name extensions option. There’s no need to restart your computer or even close File Explorer because the changes should take effect immediately.
Before moving on to more complex solutions, try restarting File Explorer if you still can’t see any file extensions.
Related: How to Change Browser on Windows 11
2. Check File Explorer’s Options
If you want to change the settings in File Explorer, you can do so through the Control Panel. Here’s how to track them down:
- Open Control Panel.
- Using the View by menu, select Large icons.
- Click File Explorer Options.
- Select the View tab.
- From Files and Folders, uncheck Hide extensions for known file types.
- Click Apply > OK and check if extensions are now visible.
3. Edit Values in the Registry Editor
The Registry Editor is a database that contains system and application settings in a hierarchical structure. As a result, you can use Registry Editor to fix the problem by changing the values associated with file extensions.
- Input regedit in the Start menu search bar and select Run as administrator.
- Head to HKEY_CURRENT_USER > SOFTWARE > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > Explorer > Advanced.
- In the right pane, open HideFileExt.
- Set Value data to 0.
- Make sure Base is Hexadecimal.
- Restart your computer and check if Windows displays file extensions.
Note: If you want to hide the file extensions, repeat steps 1-4 with Value data set to 1.
4. Enable File Extensions via the Command Prompt
You can change your system settings with Command Prompt. Here’s how to use it to get Windows to show file extensions:
- Press Win + R to open a Run dialog.
- Type cmd and click OK.
- In the Command Prompt window copy the next command reg add HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced /v HideFileExt /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f.
Note: If you want to hide files extensions using Command Prompt, type reg add HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced /v HideFileExt /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f.
Is That .JPG Really an .EXE?
A malware’s executable file can be renamed by anyone, but the extension always reveals the file’s true form. You won’t be able to tell the difference between an image and an executable file disguised as one if you can’t see files extensions. While the former may be completely safe for your computer, the latter may infect it with malware if you open it.