Monday, July 31, 2006

How to convert file format ?

Changing religion of files …

Contents of a file stored in your computer are useful only if you have installed an application compatible to handle that file otherwise it is not better than garbage. Windows uses file extensions for recognizing file types. When you try to open a certain file, the registered file extension associated with a certain application opens that file if it finds the file format similar to that it can handle. But when it finds file format strange even if the file extension name is recognizable, then it produces error messages and you are unable to open that file. When you have a certain file and you do not know its type and desperately want to see the contents of the file, then what would you do? Take another situation- you know the type of file, but you do not have the required program installed in your computer and you have to use that file. What will be your strategy? There are some tools, application and web services that can help you in these situations.

Try to view the file content

If you are not certain about the file type, then you can try to view it by file viewers. In Windows, there is built in tool called Quick View which can be used for viewing content of some files. Right click on the file and select Quick view on the context menu that appears. Quick view can show common Documents and graphic files through its built in viewers. If Quick View is not installed in your Windows Computer, then you have to install it through Start >Settings> Control Panel >Add Remove Programs> Windows Setup > Accessories > Details and then selecting Quick View. If Quick View fails to deliver desired results, then more powerful, commercial utility- Quick View Plus can be used that can handle and view several hundred file formats. There are free file viewers you can use such as IrfanView or Xnview for graphic files and Word viewer and Excel viewer for word and excel documents.

Try to open with Notepad

Notepad can open virtually any file if it is not too large. However, if the file is not of text- document- type then you will only see jumbled text in Notepad’s window. If you find some useful recognizable text then that can be used by cut and paste method. Some large files may contain text strings that may be of some use for you. Such text can be extracted to a temporary folder and viewed through Notepad by a simple, small explorer add-on called Peek. This free utility is available at http://members.ping.at/mlubich/. Once installed, it adds right click menu on your Windows Explorer. Now point to your file, right click on it and select Peek. The common recognizable text portion of the file will be extracted as a temporary file- Peek.txt and viewed instantly with Notepad. The viewed contents can be used, saved and printed as usual. You can extract the text contents of virtually any file including executables, with Peek. Peek can extract the file’s text if it is in Binary, Unicode or Standard format.

Try to guess the associate application

Often, some file types not recognized by Windows because the native applications are not installed. But these files can be opened by similar application provided they support those file types. For example, Video CDs store data of audio-video sequence as *.dat files. The *.dat file extension are used by other applications as well. If you want to play the video file having *.dat extension in Windows Media player, then open the said file by pressing the Shift key and then Right clicking and selecting ‘Open With’ option. File types having text, database, spread sheet and common graphics formats can be opened by standard applications after guessing; since some file extensions are not associated and hence are not recognized by Windows. Use of latest version of application and using add-on can also extend your computer’s capability to handle file types. For example, Microsoft Word XP has built in file converter that can open fairly large number of document files including some spread sheet files. Further, it can recover text from any file [similar to Peek] that can be used later in any application. Format of opened files can be converted through application’s Save As dialogue box.

Use file format converters

If all efforts listed above fails, then you need some advance measures. There are large number of file converter tools, applications and web services available with which you can convert virtually any file in to any other file format. Even your text document file can be converted in to motion picture file. File converters are needed and are really helpful in converting specially developed Data Base and CAD files for porting them from one platform to other and for use in different environment. Design files that are created through expensive CAD/CAM software with great pain are needed to be converted without any format loss. Similarly, graphic files are needed to be converted for use in different applications. For example, the beautiful painting you created through Windows Paint program needs to be converted from BMP to GIF or PNG format if you want it to be used in your web site’s home page. Besides, if a whole lot of files including directories and sub-directories need to be converted then there is no option but to use file converters.

Here are some file converters reviewed for you. However, you may find some strange results and data corruption while using these file converters. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you must backup your files first and then perform these strange file format converters.

Konvertor

Konvertor is a program that claims to support more than 350 file formats. It is a Graphic, Audio, Text and Video file Viewer and converter. It has built in thumbnail viewer which is quite resource hungry. Konvertor has some special built in tool like image cataloguer, effects filter, color adjuster etc. Since this application handles too much file format and has too much built in tools; using it often become tricky. However, it has some nice, useful options such as you can convert your program’s source or make file in to PDF format for easy viewing of code. Common Video and Graphic files such as MPEG, Windows Media, AVI, BMP, GIF, JPG and more can be converted in to each other. The program is efficient in converting common picture files. While converting media files such as converting WAV file to MP3, it fails in delivering things. Still, the program is useful for common graphic file conversion and DOS / UNIX/ Macintosh text file conversion. The 30 day trial version of this application can be downloaded from http://www.logipole.com

Word Converter

Microsoft Word gives you only two- three option to save your documents in Text format. But with Word converter, you can convert your documents to various text file formats such as Encoded Text, Rich Text, Unicode Text, Text with Layout, HTML etc. Word Converter’s built in spread sheet converter can convert your Excel document to Text, Unicode Text, D-Base, Lotus etc. including Macintosh Text file format. It seamlessly works as command line tool in Windows environment. It displays error or successful completion message as the case may be; after file conversion procedure completes. Word Converter can convert files of whole directory including subdirectory in a one go. This application is also available in source form and you can add this in to your application if you are in application development.

AsctoRTF & AsctoHTM

These two little cute applications can create beautiful Rich Text / HTML document out of your ugly plain text document. Of course, you can convert your text document in to RTF / HTML with any hi-profile Word program such as MS Word, but you will not get automatic formatting. The AsctoRTF application has made to intelligently sense requirement of formatting including heading, sub heading, indentation and bullet, Web Link etc. and format it accordingly. The program is feature full and great time saver in converting plain text file in to Rich Formatted Text file. Similarly, AsctoHTM can convert your Plain Vanilla text file in to Butter Scotch HTML file without any much of user input. AsctoRTF is extremely useful in converting Legacy system report, log report and other lengthy report generated in plain text. AsctoRTF converts these highly unreadable junk data in to beautiful presentation, for better visibility and interpretation. Further, you can define the way AsctoRTF convert your Text file in to RTF file. You can download shareware version of this application from http://www.jafsoft.com.

Word Port

This commercial application can convert text and word document files in to numerous file formats such as MS Word, Word Perfect, Word Star, XYWrite, Lotus and others. The application is easy in use. You simply have to give the address of Source file and if you know the format then it is ok otherwise it will automatically try to guess the file format. Finally, give the output file format, name and directory and click on convert. Your document will be converted in no time, as specified. The trial version of this program can be downloaded from http://www.acii.com . But beware, the trial version of Word Port deliberately insert spelling mistakes in your converted document.

File Merlin

This is the same program as Word Port, but used to convert Excel and Database files instead of Text and Word Document files. It can convert wide variety of database file such as D-Base, Fox-Pro, MS Access, MS Excel, ODBC Data files including some text and Word document. The application is available for download at http://www.acii.com.

DaVince Tool

This tool can convert Text, Tiff or JPG files in to PDF format. It has simple interface. You simply have to select the file you want to convert and then click on Run button. Depending on the file size, it will take a while. The tool can be used from DOS environment as well. You can convert many files in to a single large pdf file. It has a maze creator through which you can create maze puzzle. This tool has limited use but if you want to create simple Portable Document Format file out of Text / Tiff / JPEG document, then download it from: http://www.davince.com . A similar Text to PDF file converter is Simple-PDF Composer which is available from: http://www.simplepdf.com. This application supports drag and drop and create a middle file *.sim that can be used later for adding extra pages to your pdf document. Simple PDF supports multi level page formatting for better presentation of your existing, plain text document.

Converting Graphic and media files

There are numerous applications capable to handle and convert various media and graphics file formats. Some popular applications are XnView, IrfanView and ACDSee. IrfanView is a freeware utility and is very simple yet powerful in converting media files. The graphics shown in this article has been converted from BMP to JPG through IrfanView, so that its size can be reduced and can be sent through internet without any loss of quality. You can download IrfanView from http://www.irfanview.com. ACDSee is commercial application, and is known for its ability to handle most media and graphic files of computing history.

Converting Data & Design Files

Data files need to be converted for use in various environments. There are numerous tools and applications available for data file conversion as well. Two such tools are ScopeD$P and ScopeFIR. These tools can convert complex data in wide variety of Data file formats. These applications can be downloaded from http://www.iowegian.com. Similarly, Design and Map files that are created through CAD/CAM software can be converted through tools like Landgrab98. You can download this application from http://www.gecko_sw.com.

Web Services

Still if you find difficulty in finding right application for your file conversion need, then you can always go to World Wide Web and get help of available services. Simply log on to the sites that provide file conversion services, pay their fees, upload your file, specify the format of file conversion and after a while, retrieve your converted file. It is as simple as that. Some file conversion service sites are: http://www.iconv.com, http://tom.cs.cmu.edu, and http://documents.cern.ch/convert.

Screenshot Descriptions:

  • Converta.jpg Peek – a small utility that adds right click context menu on Windows Explorer to extract text contents from any kinds of file.
  • Convertb.jpg Peek in action: The extracted text content from an executable Hangman program.
  • Convert01.jpg Davince Tools: This simple file converter converts Text and graphics file Tiff, JPEG in to PDF files.
  • Convert02.jpg Simple- PDF composer converts text and jpg files in to PDF files.
  • Convert03.jpg Word Port converts numerous word document files such as doc, sam, txt, wpd, wps, wpt, wri in to various formats.
  • Convert04.jpg Simply assign the output file format and click convert after selecting the file to be converted. Within no time you will get a completely new file ready to deliver things.
  • Convert05.jpg Word Port needs some simple input from you for formatting the file to be converted.
  • Convert06.jpg The text file converted in to HTML document. You may not find fancy formatting since the basic concept behind file conversion is making the content of file usable.
  • Convert07.jpg File Merlin: This application is similar to Word Port, but convert excel and database files in to other file formats.
  • Convert08.jpg Converted files lack complex formatting however, the document become usable.
  • Convert09.jpg Word Converter: the program that converts Word and Spreadsheet files to other file formats.
  • Convert10.jpg File converters can convert many files and combine them in to one large converted file.
  • Convert11.jpg File converters display messages after attempting the file conversion whether the conversion process was successful or not.
  • Convert12.jpg Konvertor : The file converter that supports more than 350 file formats.
  • Convert13.jpg Konvertor has built in thumbnail viewer which makes the application more useful yet resource hungry.
  • Convert14.jpg Help of file conversion services can be obtained from the WEB. Upload a file for conversion, specify the format, pay their service charges, and retrieve the converted files within minutes. These services are available to convert any type of files.
  • Convert15.jpg A simple text file converted to rtf file by MS Word program. It cannot add formatting to a text document while converting it in to rtf file.
  • Convert16.jpg AsctoRTF can automatically add complex formatting to text document for better look of document.
  • Convert17.jpg The file converter displays status window through which status of file conversion can be known for troubleshooting.
  • Convert18.jpg Newer versions of applications such as MS Word XP can open and save variety of related file formats and works as a sort of file converter application.
  • Convert19.jpg IrfanView: The freeware graphics and Media file converter. The graphics used in this article has been converted by this application.
  • Convert20.jpg The File converters that support Batch file conversion are real time and pain saver.

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