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whatformatICO.gif (377 bytes)


Type of Program: File Format Identification Tool
Supported Platforms: Window 3.x/95/98
Author's Name: J. Zwart
Version: 1.3
Price: free
Installed size: 31k


Files, files everywhere ... and just when you think you're pretty conversant with all the common extensions, you find a seemingly familiar extension won't open up in your favorite app. What gives?

WhatFormat is a handy little tool that determines the actual file format for each given file extension you test on it. It's like this: Sometimes the same extension is used for different formats -- one extension can be used for different versions, or often a file is simply assigned an erroneous extension. The author explains best : "The first bytes of a file may contain information of what format is used. "

WhatFormat is a file analyzer that looks at these bytes for signatures (magic numbers) and makes a guess of the format this file may have. Neat, huh?

Why do we care? Well, what if a friend sends you a file over the Internet and you don't know what it is? WhatFormat may tell something about this file, by looking at those first "magic numbers" combined with the file extension -- then it makes a pretty good guess, even when it's something fairly arcane. There are many other scenarios. WhatFormat also check to see if the extension matches the header information -- if not, that's why your favorite app won't open it, but maybe you can rename the file with one of the other extension WhatFormat suggests.

As this program evolves, the author is adding more features -- the next version (1.4, in the works) will actually suggest some possible viewers or converters you can use to read the file in question.

Even though this program is a work in progress, it's darned helpful exactly how it is -- and it keeps improving as new versions roll out. It's simple and fun to use. Definitely check it out. The author's web site is also chock-full of details on this program, plus related information.

User Friendly:
Cost: free
Ease of Installation:
Support: email author with suggestions or reports at
Reviewed by Bobbie Crowell
ICQ # 9407183

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