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File Naming: Why Can't Anyone Open My File?

Question

Can you tell me why people can’t open this PDF ad file you sent me? Can I fix it?

Answer

Because the file got renamed with periods in it and doesn’t have the .pdf after it any more. The extra periods make the computer think it is an extension it doesn’t recognize and the removal of the .pdf can leave a computer not knowing what program to use to open the file. Never name a file with periods in it (except for the single period before the proper file extension). You can use underlines or dashes in a file name to help you read it better. But no periods.

Here is a list of characters to avoid when naming files:

  • Asterisk: *
  • Brackets: < >[ ]
  • Equal sign: =
  • Plus sign: +
  • Quotes: “
  • Slashes: /
  • Comma: ,
  • Period: .
  • Colon: :
  • Semicolon: ;

Bad file names:

  • Magazine.Ad.pdf
  • magazine_ad..pdf
  • Magazine/Ad.10.21.11.pdf
  • Magazine_ad_for_business/10-21-11.pdf

Good file names:

  • MagazineAd.pdf
  • magazine_ad.pdf
  • Magazine_Ad_10_21_11.pdf
  • Magazine_ad_for_business10-21-11.pdf

Easy to fix!

Just rename the file to fix it. Rename the file without extra periods (or any of the bad characters listed above). Just ONE period before the PDF extension. After the file is renamed, you will be able to open it with a PDF reader like Acrobat.

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Lena Shore

Lena is a full-time freelancer and nerd that specializes in web development, graphic design, and illustration. She enjoys building things, learning new things, pursuing creative endeavors, and giving free advice.

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