Having trouble opening a file on your PC? Here are some tips to fix it

If you're unable to open a file on your PC, we've got some useful tips that may do the trick.

Most of us come across a file at some point that just refuses to open. This can be hugely annoying, especially if it's a document that you need quick access to. Sometimes the easiest thing to do is just ask someone to email you the file in a different format, but that's not always an option.

Follow our guide to getting stubborn files to load properly.

[Read more: Struggling to open a document or photo? Here’s how to do it]

Step 1: Be wary of changing file extensions

File extensions

If you've got a file that lacks a file extension but you're pretty sure you know what type of file it is, you can try adding a file extension to the end.

However, be careful if you receive a file that someone tells you to rename with the extension .exe, .com, .pif, .cmd or .scr.

These are all file types that can be run directly by your computer and if they turn out to be malicious they could damage or infect the other files on your PC.

At the very least check these files with a virus scanner before attempting to open them.

[Read more: How to recover deleted files in Windows]

Step 2: Viewing file extensions

If you think the file is a text document, photo, music file or something similar, and you're not being asked to rename it with one of the above extensions, then it's probably safe to continue.

Start by opening the folder containing the file. If you can't see the file extension then you'll need to change a setting in Windows 10.

Open a folder and select File then Change folder and search options.

Viewing file extensions

Select the View tab in the window that appears, then untick the box marked 'Hide extensions for known file types' and click Apply followed by OK.

Viewing file extensions

Now right click on the file, select Rename and add the file extension. For example, if you think it's a photo try adding .jpg to the end, or if it's a document try adding .doc. If that doesn’t work, rename the file back to its original name to remove the file extension and try one of our other solutions below.

Viewing file extensions

Step 3: Using the ‘Open with’ command

An alternative method for opening a stubborn file is to use the Open with command in Windows, especially if you think you know the name of a program that should be able to read the file.

Start by Opening the folder containing your file. Right-click select Open with and a menu will pop up showing you a list of possible programs. Select what you think is the right one in the list and try opening your file.

File extensions

Step 4: Changing file associations

If you think Windows is trying to open your file with the wrong program, right click the file and select Properties.

Changing file assoications

Next to the 'Opens with:' text you'll see the name of the program the file is associated with. Click Change… to update this so that it opens with a different application.

Changing file associations

Use this method if you want to try to open a file in an application other than the default one set by the OS. For example, you can use it if you want to open a picture file in Microsoft Paint rather than Windows Photo Gallery.

[Read more: How to fix problems with language settings in all versions of Windows]

Phones and tablets