How to Show File Extensions in Windows 7: A Step-by-Step Guide

To show file extensions in Windows 7, open a folder, click on ‘Organize’ in the top-left corner, then ‘Folder and search options’. In the Folder Options window, click the ‘View’ tab, and under ‘Advanced settings’, uncheck the box that says ‘Hide extensions for known file types’. Click ‘OK’ to save changes. Now, all file extensions will be visible in Windows Explorer.

After completing this action, you will be able to see the full names of your files, including their extensions, such as .txt, .docx, .jpg, etc. This can help you to identify the file type at a glance and can be helpful when managing or organizing your files.


File extensions are the three or four-letter codes at the end of file names that denote what type of file it is, and which programs can open them. For example, a file named ‘example.docx’ indicates that the file is a Microsoft Word document. By default, Windows 7 hides these extensions, so you might only see ‘example’ without the ‘.docx’. But why is this important, and who does it benefit to see these extensions?

Knowing the file extension is crucial when you’re dealing with different file types, especially if you’re downloading files from the internet, where a mislabeled file could potentially be harmful to your computer. It’s also helpful when you’re working with multiple versions of a file, such as a .doc and .docx, or if you’re troubleshooting file-related problems. Essentially, anyone who uses a computer can benefit from knowing how to show file extensions in Windows 7 to better manage their data and to enhance security.

Step by Step Tutorial to Show File Extensions in Windows 7

The following steps will guide you through the process of making file extensions visible in Windows 7.

Step 1: Open a Folder

Open any folder using Windows Explorer.

In this first step, you just need to open any folder as you usually do, whether it’s ‘My Documents’, ‘Downloads’, or any other directory where files are stored.

Step 2: Click ‘Organize’

Click on the ‘Organize’ button on the top-left corner of the folder window.

Once you’ve opened a folder, you’ll find the ‘Organize’ button on the top-left. This button gives you access to several settings related to how your files and folders are displayed and managed.

Step 3: Select ‘Folder and search options’

From the dropdown menu, choose ‘Folder and search options’.

After clicking ‘Organize’, a drop-down menu will appear. Here, you’ll select ‘Folder and search options’ to adjust the settings that control how items in your folders are displayed.

Step 4: Click the ‘View’ tab

In the Folder Options window that appears, click on the ‘View’ tab.

The Folder Options window has several tabs, but the one you need for this task is ‘View’. This is where you’ll find settings that change the appearance of files and folders in Windows Explorer.

Step 5: Uncheck ‘Hide extensions for known file types’

Under ‘Advanced settings’, find the option ‘Hide extensions for known file types’ and uncheck it.

Within the ‘View’ tab, there’s a list of advanced settings. Look for the one that states ‘Hide extensions for known file types’ and uncheck the box next to it to make the extensions visible.

Step 6: Click ‘OK’

Click ‘OK’ at the bottom of the Folder Options window to save your changes.

After unchecking the box, make sure to save your changes by clicking ‘OK’. If you skip this step, the extensions will remain hidden.


Enhanced SecuritySeeing file extensions can help you avoid opening potentially harmful files. For example, an executable file (.exe) disguised as a PDF (.pdf) would be easier to spot.
Easier File IdentificationWith extensions visible, you can quickly determine the type of file you’re dealing with, which is helpful when sorting or opening files.
TroubleshootingWhen you’re having issues with a file, knowing its extension can be crucial for finding a solution or identifying software compatibility problems.


Cluttered AppearanceSome users might find the additional text cumbersome, particularly in folders with many files, making it harder to read the file names.
Accidental ChangesWith extensions shown, it’s possible to mistakenly change the extension when renaming a file, which could lead to errors when trying to open it.
Overwhelming for BeginnersNovice computer users might be overwhelmed or confused by the sudden appearance of unfamiliar extensions.

Additional Information

Understanding file extensions is more than just a matter of preference—it can be a crucial aspect of computer literacy. For instance, when sending files to others, you’ll want to ensure that you’re sending the correct file type. Plus, certain tasks may require you to convert files to different formats, and seeing the extension makes this process clearer and helps you verify that the conversion was successful.

Another consideration is customization. If you’re someone who likes to tailor your computing experience, showing file extensions allows you to change them manually, should you choose to associate different file types with different programs than what’s typical. Just remember, when changing extensions, you must be sure you know what you’re doing, as an incorrect file extension can make a file unusable.

In the context of this article, showing file extensions in Windows 7 is just one of many ways to take greater control over your computer and the data you manage daily.


  1. Open a folder
  2. Click ‘Organize’
  3. Select ‘Folder and search options’
  4. Click the ‘View’ tab
  5. Uncheck ‘Hide extensions for known file types’
  6. Click ‘OK’

Frequently Asked Questions

What are file extensions?

File extensions are the suffixes at the end of file names that denote what type of file it is, such as .txt, .jpg, or .docx.

Why does Windows 7 hide file extensions by default?

Windows 7 hides file extensions by default to create a cleaner, more user-friendly experience for individuals who may not be familiar with different file types.

Can showing file extensions pose any risks?

The main risk is accidentally changing an extension when renaming a file, which could make the file unusable. Always proceed with caution when file extensions are visible.

Is it safe to change file extensions?

It is safe to change file extensions if you know what you’re doing. Incorrectly changing an extension can render a file unusable, so it’s not recommended for inexperienced users.

Will showing file extensions slow down my computer?

No, showing file extensions will not slow down your computer. It is simply a change in the way file names are displayed in Windows Explorer.


Showing file extensions in Windows 7 is a simple yet powerful way to enhance your computing experience. It provides you with valuable information about your files, increases your security awareness, and can improve file management and troubleshooting.

While there are some drawbacks, like potentially cluttering your view or accidental changes, the benefits far outweigh the cons for most users. Overall, knowing how to show file extensions in Windows 7 is an essential skill for anyone looking to get the most out of their computer.

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