How to Show File Extensions in Microsoft Word

After you install Microsoft Word, it is a good idea to show file extensions to make it easier to work with the different file types.

example of file saved with four different file extensions
File saved with four different file extensions, clockwise from top left: .doc, .docx, .dotx, .odt.

You may need to save a file with several different file name extensions. Even though the icons look different, it is easier to tell the files apart if you can see the whole file name.


What is a File Extension?

A file extension is a 2-4 letter code located after the dot at the end of a file name. This code tells the operating system which program to use to open the file.

Don’t change the file extension by deleting and typing a new file name. This prevents the operating system from opening the file.

Change file extensions by converting the file using the appropriate program. In Microsoft Word, this is done by using the Save As command.

Showing file extensions in Windows folders

Follow these steps to show file extensions for all of your files:

  1. Open any folder.
  2. Click Tools > Folder Options.
  3. On the View tab, under Advanced Settings, deselect Hide extensions for known file types.
    View tab in the Folder Options window
  4. Click OK.

Changing this setting allows you to view file extensions in all folders.

Tech Note: sometimes you may need to change files found in hidden folders, such as when adding or deleting entries in Microsoft Word custom dictionaries. You can show hidden files by following the same instructions above, but in step 3, select Show hidden files and folders.