Converting One File Type to Another

First, a common misconception needs to be cleared: Changing the file extension on a file does nothing to the format of the file; it simply changes the name of the file. In order to change a file's format you must use some sort of conversion tool.

OK, what are the tools to help me convert one file format to another?

There are a number of tools that aid in format conversion; you may have one of them on your computer...the program that created the file. Many programs have an overlooked feature called either File|Save As or Export which will handle format conversion directly. If not, then here is a short list of some helpful programs and Web sites.

For Documents, Images, Audio, Video, and Units there is a free Web service that will convert many formats to a wide variety of other formats. You have to upload the file to their site. The service is free as of Oct 2007 but is also in beta at that time so check the terms of service before use to see if there are any charges involved.

Converters for Microsoft's new DOCX and XLSX (and other Office 2007) formats to down-convert back to standard DOC, XLS, or other formats are more and more available. Some you might try are:

  • DOCX Convert Office 2007 (On-line Conversion) offers a portable solution for your compatability needs.
  • docXConverter by Panergy which is a shareware converter for both formats and is available for both PC and Mac use (the site also has other Word and Excel converters/viewers).
  • which is an on-line conversion for DOCX.
  • Open XML/ODF Translator Add-ins for Microsoft Office. This is an on-going project to provide conversion add-ins for the MS Office suite.
  • by Jobvertise, Inc. Convert docx files instantly on-line. This site also includes converters for DOC, TXT, HTML, RTF, and ODT files.

For graphics files you can often use the free program XnView or IrfanView to both read and display the image as well as save it in a different format.

Other programs that handle graphic file conversion are the commercial programs:

One shareware program that performs conversions for hundreds of both graphics and non-graphics file types is:

Others include:

  • ABC Amber
  • has a large collection of audio, video, image and document converters sold individually or collectively with trial versions.

There are also several Web-based conversion solutions you can try. Here are sites where you can submit files to the site and receive a converted or Web-viewable file in return:

Another conversion site is You submit the file to them and receive the converted file back in the mail.

For audio files consider the product GoldWave. It can handle most audio formats. FairStars Audio Converter is another such converter. Also consider FOOBAR2000 as a Freeware player/converter.

The site MP3 Converter Software Downloads contains a large collection of links to audio conversion tools.

More general conversion sites include:

  • Advanced File Conversion Software. This site has various word processing conversion software both offline and online. You can try the offline software; online conversions are pay-as-you-go based on file size.
  • This site hosts a number of smaller unique conversion programs.

A more specialized conversion reads printer output files in PCL format and views/converts them to other formats:

  • PCLTool. PCLTool can parse, index, split, streamedit, view and convert HP PCL into various raster and vector formats or print to any Windows printer.

Users in the discussion forum often want to know how to extract game resources from game files. MultiEx Commander is one product that can do this for a number of different game file formats. Another extraction resource is Game Extractor by Watto Studios.

[Note: If you need to extract information from a formatted data file but don't know the format of the data file you might try using Game Extractor on the file and see what it might find. At least one user in the forum found this handy when attempting to extract data from a data file created by a developer who left no notes behind.]

Sometimes you need to convert Macintosh files to PC format on a PC (it's usually best to do the conversion on the Mac first and then port to the PC). If so, then ConversionsPlus might help.

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