Word:

filename extension

Noun1.filename extension - a string of characters beginning with a period and followed by one to three letters; the optional second part of a PC computer filename; "most applications provide extensions for the files they create"; "most BASIC files use the filename extension .BAS"
(filename extension)filename extension - The portion of a filename, following the final point, which indicates the kind of data stored in the file.

Many operating systems use filename extensions, e.g. Unix, VMS, MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows. They are usually from one to three letters (some sad old OSes support no more than three). Examples include "c" for C source code, "ps" for PostScript, "txt" for arbitrary text.

NEXTSTEP and its descendants also use extensions on directories for a similar purpose.

Apart from informing the user what type of content the file holds, filename extensions are typically used to decide which program to launch when a file is "run", e.g. by double-clicking it in a GUI file browser. They are also used by Unix's make to determine how to build one kind of file from another.

Compare: MIME type.

Tony Warr's comprehensive list.

FAQS.org Graphics formats.
computer file name, computer filename, extension, file name, file name extension, filename, string
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