Hacks for old Digital Photo Frames

Digital Photo Frame
Image by Mac Armstrong http://bit.ly/1N47NV8

At one point over the last year, almost everyone of us has gotten a digital photo frame – either as a give or some spontaneous impulse purchase. The hopes were high, that these futuristic pieces of photo display would modernize our homes, giving them a futuristic and up to date touch.

By now, however, many may regret this purchase or getting this gift. If you actually use the digital picture frame instead of just having it lying around in it’s original box, you are even paying constant money for it. Quite a large amount of power is needed by these devices, which is especially hard since you don’t look at the picture or photo slide show all the time when it’s on, the frame being powered and displaying pictures for nothing most of the time.

But stop! Before you get annoyed over the several dollars you spent on this device for – seemingly – nothing, let’s see what you can do with your picture frame to turn it into a useful gadget again!

Digital Door Sign

This may be interesting for people that work from home, in a doctors office, or somewhere else where people are usually not too sure whether they should and could enter. A digital sign with different photos that show the purpose of your business and either a “we’re open” or “we’re closed” graphic can encourage people to enter or let them know when it’s okay to do so, as well as inform them what your store, office, or else actually is about.

If you are versatile with electronics you can even tweak the frame in a way so you can control it from your computer. Means, you can display a “please come in” while you are able to have visitors, a “please come back later” if you are busy or on a break, and display information for your clients and curious folk if you leave the office for the day.

Secondary Computer Display

This is surely for the more advanced tinkerer among us. SpritesMods has posted a quick introduction how to transform your spare digital picture frame into a second computer monitor. It may not be as big in dimensions, but it’s surely a nice and versatile way to “recycle” an otherwise unused device.

Audio-visual Party Booster

One way to actually put the frame to it’s original usage without having it sit on an end table or drawer and sucking away on electricity, is to only use it for special occasions. Sharing vacation photos could be one, but a more interesting and fun one is to use it as an audio-visual device for your parties. If you have been “blessed” to own a newer version of the digital photo frame, it may be able to not only display pictures, but also videos and music tracks. Playing some party or lounge tracks while displaying an interesting slide show, or music videos can add to the atmosphere of your party!

Wifi “sniffing” Frame for Public usage

A bright head from Vancouver had the idea to use the fact that people often use the free wifi provided at different public locations like cafés and shopping centers to breathe new life into a dusty old digital picture frame. By scanning the wifi used in the certain area, the picture frame randomly displays pictures that are downloaded or looked at using this wifi connection.

Is it an intrusion of privacy? Surely, but if it’s known, this could add greatly to the entertainment of the viewers, seeing pictures of news sites mixed up with family vacation photos or the profile pictures of dating sites.

Fancy Digital Clock

This project requires some proficiency as well as perfect timing. A German news site for technology managed to imitate the elegant looks of the Clocktwo. By timing graphics that highlight the specific words and combinations, the picture frame can function as a fancy clock not everyone has at home for sure. It can be personalized with regards to colors, but also when it comes to the language. Why not let this clock tell you the time in your dialect, a foreign language, or even Klingon?

However you choose to tweak and tinker your unused digital picture frame though, make sure that you the correct files to be displayed. Not every picture frame supports the same image or video files. Luckily, you can convert them all to fit your – or rather your photo frame project’s – needs!


Best free Picture Viewers for Windows

Picture Viewer
Image by sean hobson http://bit.ly/1EsooOv

More often than not, there are better open source and otherwise free software alternatives to native Windows or Apple products. In this article, we want to have a look at the Windows picture viewers and the alternatives that offer you more and better features.

When browsing the help forums on the internet, you quickly come across some problems with the native Windows 7 and Windows 8 image viewing options. Windows Image (or Photo) Viewer from Windows 7 and 8 is unable to display animated GIFs, for example, only showing the first frame. The modern ‘Photos‘ app of Windows 8 does show animation in most cases, yet the app is set to full screen by default, overlapping all other programs in the background.

Thankfully, many free alternatives allow animation as well as the bypassing of full screen mode.


IrfanView is a free image viewer that works on all Windows platforms. Under certain cirumstances, the program runs on Linux and Next to displaying images, videos and audio files can be opened as well. The possibility of editing and converting pictures is given in some extend as well.

The following files can be viewed. For an exhaustive list, have a look at this list.

  • BMP
  • GIF (also animated)
  • ICO
  • JPEG
  • PNG
  • PSD (Photoshop file)
  • TIFF
  • WEBP
  • RAW camera files
  • PDF
  • TXT
  • OGG
  • MIDI
  • MOV
  • MPEG
  • MP3
  • MP4
  • WAV

Other interesting features involve:

  • Scaling
  • Slideshow
  • Creation of screensavers
  • Creating icons
  • Communicate with scanners
  • Screenshot options
  • Cropping
  • Resizing
  • Rotating
  • Brightness & contrast
  • Tint
  • Gamma level
  • Batch processing
  • Image conversion

Furthermore, IrfanView is available in over 20 languages. It allows for several plugins to be installed to advance the features even more, and has a thumbnail function for better picture organization. The most striking feature, however, is the compactness of the program, with the basic version occupying about 1.6 MB only.


Picasa is an image viewing and organizing software owned by Google. It’s available for Windows from XP up to Windows 7, Mac OS X, and Linux via Wine.

Edit: However, depending on the color profile of your image, Picasa can hit it’s limitations. CMYK pictures are not always supported (errors regarding PSD files saved in CMYK are common).

The following file formats are supported by Picasa. For an exhaustive list click here.

  • BMP
  • GIF (not animated)
  • JPG
  • PNG
  • PSD (Photoshop files)
  • some RAW camera files
  • TGA
  • TIFF
  • WEBP
  • 3GP
  • AVI
  • MKV
  • MOV
  • MPG
  • MP4
  • WMV
  • MP3
  • WMA

Other features provided are:

  • File import
  • Tracking
  • Tagging on Google+
  • Keywords
  • Facial recognition
  • Collections
  • Slide shows
  • Timelines
  • Page Layouts
  • Size reduction
  • Color enhancement
  • Red eye reduction
  • Cropping
  • Adding Text


The image viewer Imagine was developed mainly for Windows platforms (up to Windows 8). While the program features some useful features, it’s last update unfortunately came out in November 2012.

Files supported include:

  • BMP
  • GIF (also animated)
  • ICO
  • PCD
  • PSD (Photoshop files)
  • RAW camera files
  • TGA
  • TIFF
  • XCF (Gimp files)
  • 7z
  • RAR
  • TAR
  • ZIP

Imagine has very strong support for different kinds of animations. The features provided include the following. An exhaustive list can be seen here.

  • Extracting frames from animations
  • Transparency
  • Thumbnail browser
  • Batch processing
  • Slide shows
  • Screenshots
  • Exif/IPTC information
  • Creation of animations
  • Rotating
  • Flipping
  • Greyscale
  • Negative
  • Color depth
  • Swap colors
  • Effect filters


The XnView software is a file manager with support of image viewing. It’s available for Windows and it’s mobile versions, as well as OS X and Linux.

Numerous image, audio, and video formats are supported by XnView, including:

  • BMP
  • EPS
  • GIF
  • ICO
  • JPEG
  • PNG
  • PSD
  • RAW camera files
  • TIFF
  • PDF
  • MID
  • MP3
  • WAV

Some of the most common features of XnView are:

  • Screnshots
  • Slide shows
  • Thumbnails
  • Search for similar graphics
  • Exif/IPTC information
  • Rotating
  • Flipping
  • Cropping
  • Color manipulation
  • Filters & effects
  • Batch processing

FastStone Image Viewer

FastStone Image Viewer is available for Windows platforms from Windows 98 up to Windows 8. It’s an image viewing and organization software with stable releases.

The most common file formats are supported by FastStone Image Viewer, including:

  • BMP
  • GIF (also animated)
  • ICO
  • JPEG
  • PNG
  • RAW camera files
  • TGA
  • TIFF

Among others, the program offers the following features:

  • Thumbnails
  • Slide shows (including music and effects)
  • Exif information
  • Side-by-side image comparison
  • Rotation
  • Cropping
  • Color correction
  • Red eye removal
  • Clone Brush
  • Curves
  • Masks

A more exhaustive list of supported file types and features can be seen on the FastStone Homepage.

Sometimes, however, you may encounter an image file none of these free alternatives are able to open. In such cases, you can still convert the file in question quickly and easily with an online image file converter.


How to pay without creating a PayPal account

Credit Cards
Image by Sean MacEntee http://bit.ly/1wW3Kq6

Many services all over the world wide web require you to pay via PayPal. Why? Because it’s easy, convenient, and provides many useful features, securities, and possibilities for both, buyers and sellers. Yet, not everyone feels safe using and registering for PayPal, and linking their bank account information to their new PayPal account. PayPal fraud is still something many people are afraid of. All that’s needed – most of the time – is clicking on one link to give your private information to someone on the other side of the net.

Some sellers, however, offer you to pay for their services via PayPal without creating an account! If you, for example, want to sign up for one of the premium services of Online-Convert.com, all you need is a credit card.

If you decided for the service package you want to purchase, you will be automatically directed to PayPal. The standard view is the one displayed below. Yet, after being prompted to log in to an existing PayPal account, many don’t look further. If you want to pay with your credit card without signing up on the page, you should do that though. Click on “Pay with Debit or Credit Card”.



Now, you are presented with a form that requires the information about your credit or debit card. Depending on your country, you may also be asked to enter your address, email address, or phone number. To continue after entering all the information necessary, simply click on “Pay now” at the bottom of the form.



Afterwards, you will be asked whether you want to create a PayPal account. If you decide to do so, you can register with the information entered. If you still have no desire to use PayPal more regularly by entering your information, you can – of course – decline.

With getting the confirmation of PayPal that your purchase has been made, the services you ordered will be available for you immediately.


Problems you may encounter

While Online-Convert.com offers the service of paying with credit card instead of creating a PayPal account, not everyone does. Sellers can choose to disable this feature, only enabling you to pay when having an account with PayPal.
Furthermore, it may be that your country isn’t supporting this kind of payment. In case the problem lies within PayPal though, it may help to clear your browsing data and delete the cookies.

If PayPal is not accepting your credit card, it may also be that you already have an account that is linked to your card’s information, preventing the site to pay with it without logging in.

For more information about paying with credit or debit cards, please visit the PayPal customer support page or refer to this announcement.


EDIT 11/08/2016: We have updated the screenshots and our article since PayPal did a few changes.

Average File Sizes

Image by daveynin http://bit.ly/1aarTyJ

There is one thing about files that everyone can’t help to notice as soon as they want to download, upload, or send it via the internet, or when the computer announces that there isn’t enough storage left: File sizes.

No matter if you store music on your iPhone, want to send a picture via email, or upload a funny video to Facebook, file sizes – when too big – can and will cause problems, especially when you are on mobile or stuck with a slow internet connection.

There are natural limitations, no matter if they are set by your email provider for attachments, or by different pages when you want to upload a video or profile picture. Keeping the kilobytes and megabytes in mind prevents you from encountering unnecessary problems.

Why’s File Size important?

As stated above, there are a number of reasons why you would want to keep the size of your files in mind. One we encounter almost daily is the limitation set by many email providers when it comes to attachments. Consider this for example:

An attachment for an email sent via gmail can not exceed 25 MB, while emails sent via Microsoft Outlook allow for individual files (not the whole bundle) to not be bigger than 20 MB.

This may not seem to be a problem at first when you want to send a picture or PDF document, but as soon as you want to send multiple files or even a video, matters become more pressing. Thankfully, most email programs let you know when you exceed the file size limit.

Another factor are upload and download times. Sure, for many users, the download of a file takes about 15 seconds, but households that still have a dial-up or other slow connection can take up to one hour for a file with a size of 10 MB. Thus, when uploading documents or other media to share on the internet, you should also keep in mind people that aren’t blessed with highspeed internet connections.

Same goes for uploading an entire album of photos to Facebook, for example, or a video to YouTube. While users of a fast internet connection can easily wait through the uploading process and even browse the net meanwhile, some people still have no chance of doing anything on the internet while the upload is in process. Especially people with a slow connection who want to upload their videos, music, or images would have to keep a close eye on the file size of their media.

Especially nowadays, mobile internet is the number one way for people to connect with the world. Yet, even if many mobile phone providers have internet flat rates in their contracts, the download speed is limited in most cases. Thus, browsing pictures or watching videos can be very annoying considering the long loading or buffering times when you are stuck with mobile internet.

Bits and Bytes

Which units are there even, and how big are they? Refer to this short list:

  • 1 B = 1 byte
  • 1 kB = 1.000 bytes
  • 1 MB = 1.000 kB or 1.000.000 bytes
  • 1 GB = 1.000 MB, 1.000.000 kB, or bytes

Average File Sizes

But, what are the average file sizes of media we use daily? After browsing the net and producing some examples ourselves, we found out the following:


  • PNG ~ 2 – 4 kB
  • GIF ~ 6 – 8 kB
  • JPG ~ 9 – 12 kB
  • TIFF ~ 900 – 1.000 kB
  • BMP ~ 900 – 1.000 kB


  • DOCX ~4 – 8 kB
  • PDF ~ 18 – 20 kB
  • ODT ~ 80 – 90 kB

Media Files

  • eBook ~ 1 – 5 MB
  • MP3 song ~ 3 – 4 MB
  • DVD Movie ~ 4 GB
  • HD Movie ~ 5 – 8 GB
  • Blu-Ray Movie ~ 20 – 25 GB

Reducing File Sizes

Reducing the size of individual files can be achieved in different ways.

Image files can easily be cropped using different photo editing software or online editors. Photographs for displaying on the web or in Facebook do not have to be big in dimension. Buttons, lines, clipart, and the like can even be stored as formats that are smaller in size because they don’t contain much color or style information, like PNG or GIF. However, uploading RAW camera images (like CR2 or NEF) are 2 to 6 times bigger than JPG files and can’t be displayed correctly anyway. TIFF and BMP files should be converted to JPG or the like as well since they are bigger in size than the compressed JPG files.

Document files that should be displayed online or provided as a download can be slimmed down as well by getting rid of unnecessary pictures and formatting. In most cases though, saving as or converting your file to PDF correlates with a reduced file size as well.

Video files can be treated similar to image files, yet getting and mastering a video editing program is much harder and takes longer than achieving the same with photo editing software. However, changing the screen size by using a video converter is be a fast and easy to use alternative.

Last but not least, bigger audio files can be converted to MP3. This goes hand in hand with loss of quality to some degree, yet for your listening pleasure this should be marginal.

Best free Image Editing Programs

Photo Editing
Original image by Tambako The Jaguar

If you work on a computer and like taking pictures (and even if not) you have heard about programs like Photoshop for sure. But that means you also know how expensive they are to get. Since we have presented you with a list of the best free office programs already, we thought it’s about time to present you the best free or even online accessible programs for photo editing.

First, we will concentrate on three open source image editing software that you can download and install for free. Yet, some features may require payment. Then, we will also present three online options on how to apply filters on your images or add text and clipart. Those may contain paid features as well though.

Open Source Software


GIMPGIMP is most probably the number one go-to tool for people that do not want to purchase Photoshop. It was developed for computers running with Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. Most features that are available in Photoshop are available in Gimp as well, even though the interface looks different and may appear quite familiar to someone who’s used to the Photoshop interface.

The most common features like adding layers, textures, overlays, and different filters are a part of the service of Gimp. Of course it is possible top open several pictures to edit them in one session. There are plenty tutorials on how to achieve certain effects, and program is still updated regularly.

Pictures can be saved as (or exported as) many different formats including the “usual” picture files like JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP, and Tiff, as well as more exotic formats and even PDF. The editable project filr of GIMP is saved with the XCF extension.


Paint.NETPaint.NET is a program developed for windows desktop computers. It features most features PhotoShop has as well, like adding and removing layers to the picture, applying gradients or other drawings and text to the image, and limitless undoing of changes made. Filters like noise, distortion, or blur can be applied as well.

Several pictures can be opened and worked on at the same time while the user interface is intuitive and shows strong resemblance to Photoshop as well. Tutorials on how to achieve a certain effect in Paint.NET exist as well. Despite the website looking rather outdated, the product is still updated regularly.

Next to the option of saving the edited images in the popular formats JPG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, and BMP, the option to save the picture as TGA and DDS files exists as well as the option to store the picture with all it’s layers intact as a Paint.NET project file with the PDN extension.


KritaKrita is a picture editing program that focuses mainly on editing digitally made paintings and illustrations. Yet, the program offers nearly the same features as the two formerly mentioned programs, thus making editing photographs and other images just as easy.

Next to creating different layers and the usual tools like adding filters, cropping, color fill, and gradients, Krita offers different symmetry tools and drawing aids as well. Thus, it’s advantage definitely lies in the support for artists that want to perfect their digital or scanned drawings.

The project file for Krita has the extension KRA, yet edited pictures can be saved as JPG, PNG, BMP, and TIFF, and even as the Photoshop picture format PSD.

Online Photo Editing

If you need a faster solution and do not want to download software and install it on your computer, these online picture editing programs may be the right thing for you. All you need is the picture you want to edit and a working internet connection.



At first glance, the advertisement on the right side when launching the web application of Pixlr may seem annoying, but you can easily escape this by using this service in fullscreen mode.

The features presented by Pixlr don’t leave many wishes unfulfilled. Under “Adjustment” you can find the basic adjustments like contrast, red eye treatment, and rotating, but also a tool to liquify parts of the picture or doodle on top of it. Under “Effect” you can find a big variety of filters to apply to the image, grouped into categories, providing the option to favorite certain filters and a preview of how it will look applied to the image. Further features are overlays like bokeh, borders, stickers, and text.

One of the best things about the editing in Pixlr is that you can add one effect to the picture and then choose whether you really want to apply this effect to your picture permanently. Of course there’s an undo button as well.

The fully edited picture is saved in the JPG format.


BeFunkyContrary to Pixlr, the BeFunky photo editor doesn’t allow a fullscreen mode to escape the advertisement, yet there are other features that make up for it.

Having a closer look at the “Essentials”, it’s apparent that BeFunky aims more towards retouching or portraits and creating pictures for your social media profile. For example, there’s the option to remove wrinkles, add make up, and even crop the image to fit the Facebook cover size. There’s a big set of filters to apply to the image as well with an extra navigation point for “drawing”-style filters, yet some of them require upgrading. Other features include adding a border, stickers, text, or a pattern or texture to the picture. When applying a texture, the option to change the blend mode (just as in Photoshop) is given as well.

Again, you can apply the effect and look at the edited picture before deciding whether you really want to apply the effect.

When saving the picture, next to choosing to save the edited image on your computer, you can directly upload it to Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, or another site as well. When saving, you have the option to choose between JPG and PNG, and choosing the quality of the picture will even give you information about the file size.


PicMonkeyThe last one of our list is PicMonkey, an online tool that displays advertisement very subtly at the bottom of the page.

Next to the basic edits, the tool also provides basic filter options to apply to the image. Yet, many of them are so-called “Royal” features that require upgrading and thus payment. Similar to the BeFunky photo editor, the service offers tools to retouch portraits. The basic retouching options are for free, yet most of them “Royal” features. More features include adding text, stickers, borders, and textures that even allow you to upload your own textures and apply them to the image. In case you can’t decide which overlays and effects to use, there’s also the option to choose a theme like Winter or Comic Heroes and make edits that are suggested.

When saving the picture, you are able to choose between the JPG and PNG format. An option to change the dimensions of the image is given as well. Of course you can also share your edited picture on Facebook, Twitter, or another page.

Media Files supported by Windows Software

Image by Les Haines http://bit.ly/1CWJ3rK

There are many free programs you can use to watch videos, listen to audio files, or view pictures and images with. Yet, not many people feel comfortable downloading and installing unknown software – especially since some can’t even open all formats. After having had a look at native Apple files before, we will have a look at media files that are supported by Windows native programs this time.

We will concentrate on Media files like videos, audio files, and images only this time (with the exception of some project files), since document, presentation, and spreadsheet files is a topic for another day.

If you still come across an audio or video file that isn’t supported by your Windows native programs, you can still convert them into a format that can be displayed or played by them. You don’t need any download or installation for these audio converter or video converter as well.

Windows Media Player

The most current version of the Windows Media Player, Media Player 12, got rid of quite a few restrictions the Media Player 11 version still held. It is part of the Windows 7 Starter Edition, Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise.


The support of MP4 and M2TS files as well as 3G2, 3GP, and 3GPP files doesn’t come as a big surprise. Especially MP4 became a very popular format for videos and movies, thus the implementation and support by the Windows Media Player was just a matter of time.

What’s more noteworthy is that Windows Media Playe 12 also supports Apple resp. Mac formats as well now, such as MOV and M4V.

  • 3G2, 3GP, 3GPP (not available in Media Player 11)
  • AVI
  • M2TS (not available in Media Player 11)
  • M4V (not available in Media Player 11)
  • MOV (not available in Media Player 11)
  • MP2
  • MP4  (not available in Media Player 11)
  • MPG
  • WMV


While the Apple native formats AIF and AIFF have been supported by Windows Media Player before, the Media Player 12 version added support of the M4A file format as well. Furthermore, AAC files can be listened to with the Media Player as well now.

  • AAC (not available in Media Player 11)
  • M4A (not available in Media Player 11)
  • MP3
  • WAV
  • WMA


Windows Movie Maker

For getting the most current version of the Windows Movie Maker, Windows Movie Maker 12, the Windows Essentials 2012 package is necessary.


The following project files that contain information about the video, audio, and other editing processes can be opened and further edited in Windows Movie Maker 12:

  • WLMP


  • WMV
  • M2TS, MTS
  • AVI
  • MP4, MOV, 3GP, 3G2
  • MPEG, MPG, MP2


  • WMA
  • M4A
  • MP3


  • GIF
  • BMP
  • ICO
  • PNG


Windows Media Center

The Windows Media center allows you to watch TV Series, movies, DVD content, and more on your computer. It’s available in the newest version for For Windows 8, 7, RT, and Vista.


  • WMV
  • M2TS
  • MOV
  • AVI
  • MP4, M4V
  • MPEG, MPG, MP2


  • WMA
  • WAV
  • MP3
  • AAC


  • RAW
  • GIF
  • BMP
  • PNG


Windows Photo Viewer

The Windows Photo Viewer is the default program to view images, photos, and pictures of several formats since Windows 8, 7, and Vista.

The most popular image formats are supported by the Photo Viewer, but it unfortunately does not cover camera raw formats like ARW, CRW, or NEF.

Furthermore, animated GIFs are displayed as still images rather than animated. To display an animated gif in motion, one either needs Internet Explorer (or any other browser) or another picture viewing program that supports animated GIFs.

  • PNG
  • GIF (no animated GIFs)
  • BMP

Create animated Gifs from Movies

Animated GifEveryone loves animated GIFs!

They are smaller in size than movies and focus on the short sequences you want to re-watch or share. They are view-able without a problem in all browsers on almost every device. Reactions to forum posts, funny sequences from videos, pointing something out in a specific scene – those are just a few reasons for why you may want to create a moving and animated GIF.

Most people use Adobe Photoshop or another photo-editing software to create these small moving pictures, but not everyone knows how to utilize them – or can afford buying such a program. Using a GIF converter, however, is a quick and easy way to get your favorite scene as an animated GIF – and it doesn’t cost a thing!

How to make Animated GIFs

The Video

At first, you need the movie or video you want to convert, of course. It doesn’t matter which format the movie is in – MOV, AVI, MP4, MKV, etc. – what counts is that it isn’t too long.

When uploading a longer video, only the first 30 seconds will be converted into an animated GIF. Thus, if you want a specific scene to be “giffed”, it would be better to cut the video into short portions of no longer than 30 seconds. This can either be done with a video editing software, or by using the option of cropping a video e.g. on this free MP4 converter.

Once you have the cut or short video – or several short videos – you can start with the “real” GIF making process!

GIF Image Converter
Select the GIF image converter

Get that GIF

After you have the video(s) you want to convert, visit the GIF Image Converter page. There you can browse for your video and select it. Basically, you are good to go now. Click on “Convert File” and wait. Your animated GIF will download after the conversion is finished.

Animated GIF Conversion
Standard Settings. Just press “Convert file”

Yet, there are a few ways in which you can edit the GIF by choosing different options before the conversion.

  • Change Size: Change the size of your resulting GIF, e.g. 400 px width (height will be adjusted in proportion)
  • Color: Change the color of the GIF to greyscale, monochrome, negate, or another color scheme.
  • Enhance: Add different filters to your GIF, like sharpening, despeckle, and more
Edit Animated GIFs
Example settings for editing your GIF

Here you have a few examples on how the GIFs can turn out:

Animated Gif
No additional settings
Animated GIF
Settings: Gray + Sharpen
Animated GIF
Settings: Year 1980 + Equalize
Animated GIF
Settings: Year 1900 + despeckle

How to Open Unknown Files

Unknown Files
Image by Dennis Hill

Did it ever happen to you that you downloaded a song or video clip, or someone sent you a file via email and once you want to open and view it, it doesn’t work? Of course you wonder why, and after checking the file you see that you may have never heard of this kind of file before. Don’t panic. The next time you encounter such an unknown file, you will be well prepared!

In this article, we will tell you how to easily handle unknown file formats, and what you can do to use them on your computer without installing any additional software.

What’s the File Extension?

The first thing to do when you find a file that you can’t open is to find out what file extension it has. Because once you have the extension’s name, you can find out what kind of file it is and how you can open it.

Find the file in question and click on it with your right mouse button. Depending on what OS you use (Windows or Apple) a list of options will pop up. One of them should be “Properties” or something similar (also depending on the language of your computer). Once you clicked on it, a pop up window will open which lists all the properties of your file. When using Windows, you will have a point that says “File Type:”. There you will find the necessary information about your file type, e.g. PDF-File (.pdf)

The file extension are the letters following the dot in the brackets. In this case, the file extension would be PDF.

What kind of File is it?

Now that you know what kind of file extension you’re dealing with, it’s time to find out what kind of file it is. A document, an image, or maybe a music file? Or something else entirely?

The easiest and most informative way to do so is by referring to a list of file formats where you can easily search for the one in question. Such lists not only give you information about the developers and all kinds of technical data about the file type, but also about the programs with which you can open them!

For example, you found an AIF file on your computer. Searching the list linked above, you find a listing under “Audio Files.” Now you know that this file was developed by Apple, contains audio data, and can be opened by the Quicktime or Windows Media Player.

How to open/view this File?

In the best case, you can now choose the program you prefer to open the file, may it be a document file or a spreadsheet. But what if you don’t have any program from the list presented installed on your computer? Instead of having to install yet another video player or Office suit program, you can easily convert your file into a format that the most popular programs can open.

Unfortunately, especially when it comes to video files, there can still be problems when you want to play a video that contains codecs that are not installed on your computer. T find more about these cases, you can read our article about video codecs and containers.

How to Convert Images to PDF

You can do a lot of things with images these days, but there are still times when the image file is too cumbersome or doesn’t have all the functionality it needs. If this is the case, knowing how to convert images to PDF might solve whatever problem you’re having.

Make it Searchable

First, it’s important to note that an “image file” isn’t just restricted to the types of images you’re used to seeing from cameras and phones. People frequently take print screens of Word and Excel documents because they want to share something that was on the page. The problem is that this print-screen function turns every element on the page into one big image. Since people are usually more comfortable with Microsoft Word, they also use that software to create brochures and flyers and then turn those into images.

That works great, unless you need to access something on the page or if you need the ability to use search functionality on the page. An image file doesn’t allow this, but if you know how to convert images to PDF, you can search for whatever you need.

Make it Portable

Another reason to learn how to convert images to PDF is to make it more portable. Many of the mobile devices we use today are very specific as to what types of files they can read and image files are a frequent problem. If you know how to convert images to PDF, any device that can read a PDF can view the file.

Add Hyperlinks

If you’re creating a document that will be used as marketing or promotion of some kind, you would probably like to include links to the website where people can find out more information and/or register. An image won’t allow you to include these hyperlinks. However, if you learn how to convert images to PDF, you can include the hyperlinks and get more exposure for your website, event or organization.

How to Convert Images to PDF

Now that you have a better handle on the benefits of converting image files to PDF, it’s time to learn how to easily accomplish this task.

The first thing you need is to identify a great online conversion tool. There are many of these tools available, but you will need to make sure the tool you choose has all the features you need, both today, and in the future. It makes sense to choose one that is easy to use and that handles many different types of documents, audio, video and ebook conversions. That way, when you have other conversion needs in the future, you already have a conversion tool at your fingertips that you already know how to use.

How to convert images to pdf
Image by Mickel Vaessen http://bit.ly/16JIbNr

When you need to start converting iages to PDF, you simply need to tell the conversion tool which image it needs to convert. This can usually be done by browsing the files on your computer in the same manner as when you select a document from Word or Excel.

Once you select the image file that needs to be converted, just tell the conversion tool that you want the image to be converted to a PDF format. The tool will then make the conversion for you!

Now that you know how to convert images to PDF files, you have much more flexibility with the documents you create.

Cross-Conversion – What is possible?

The basic and general features of a file converter, whether it’s a software tool you have to install on your computer or whether it’s an online service, are mostly the same: You upload a file and convert it into another format, either because you can’t open the initial file, because you want to reduce the file size to send it over the internet, or because you want to send it to people that may not be able to open the original file format.

Image by desertdarlene http://bit.ly/1xPpEoV
Image by desertdarlene http://bit.ly/1xPpEoV

These conversions mostly happen inside a certain category or type of file formats, e.g. from one image file format to the other, or from one document to a different type of document. Yet, there is something else our online converter service can do for you, and it all falls under the term Cross-Converting.

Cross Converting entails that you can not only convert your audio file into another audio file, but that you can actually convert across file types. Converting a movie file into music, or an image into PDF are only a few possibilities. This article will show you many different options of cross converting your files, creating many new possibilities for you!

Extract audio from a video

Sometimes, it’s hard to get your hands on certain movie background music, or the tracks on the OST or Score do not really convey the feel they had when heard in the movie because certain background sounds have been missing. Or maybe there is an interesting part of a speech or monologue from a recorded lecture or speech you want to extract.

The Solution: If you are just interested in the audio data from a video, you can easily extract it by converting the movie file into MP3, WAV, or some other audio file like Apple iTune’s AAC.

Create audio from a document

There are different ways to learn, and next to reading and repeating, listening is a big part of the remembering process. Furthermore, at times it’s difficult to find the time to read your lecture notes, online articles, or even longer correspondence that include a lot of information – especially when you’re on the road a lot.

The Solution: Convert your PDF or Microsoft Word documents into an audio file format, preferably MP3 because it’s supported by most audio playing devices and mobile phones. This way, you can listen to your notes and writings, rewind, repeat, and memorize the information even better.

Extract text from a picture

Another very popular way of taking notes is taking a quick photo of blackboard notes or presentation slides. But what if you want to use the text to alter or insert somewhere? There is an easier way than copying the text from the picture by writing it down yourself.

The Solution: Depending on the quality of the photo you have taken, it can be converted into a TXT or DOC file which gives you the text of whatever has been on the picture.

The easy way to make a presentation

Holding a presentation is so much easier when you have just one file with all the information on it instead of having to switch in between pictures, texts, audio, screenshots, and video.

The Solution: If you have your notes already prepared in a text document or even saved as PDF, you are only one click away from converting your document into a PowerPoint presentation.

Also: It works the other way round as well though. By converting PPT or PPTX files into PDF, you can get not only a printer friendly version, but you can also ensure that most people are able to open and vie your presentation.

Animated GIFs

Animated GIFs are one trend on the internet that will never completely die out, being revived again and again. Yet, not everybody is skilled in the art of creating such animated pictures, and not everybody has the programs necessary to make them.

The Solution: A very easy way of creating an animated GIF is to convert your MP4 or other video file. If you upload a larger movie file, only the beginning will be converted into an animated GIF, so the most convenient way is to cut the video into the portions you want to be “giffed” and upload them individually, creating an receiving the animated pictures you wanted.

From document to eBook

Another great way of memorizing your notes and rereading them is a very paper saving one as well. Most people take notes in lectures, talks, or meetings on their laptop nowadays, but it can be annoying and impractical to carry it with you whenever you want to re-read on what has been talked about. Printing all the notes isn’t a very convenient option either.

The Solution: Convert Microsoft Word or OpenOffice documents into an eBook format. The purpose of eReaders is to store books and other papers in a space and paper saving way. Furthermore, they re very light and easy to take with you, with a library option to quickly find the notes you need.

Present your Design projects

Creating a design project for your customers is linked to quite some struggles. One is faced when you want to present your progress or suggestions to your customers. It is very likely, that they can not open your vector graphic or EPS, PSD, or DWG file.

The Solution: Converting your special image files into JPG or even PDF makes it easy and convenient for your customers to look at the design you made for them. Furthermore, the conversion will leave your original file untouched!

And there’s more…

These are only the most common and most popular Cross Conversion features online conversion tools can offer. If there are any more features you would like to see implemented concerning Cross Conversion, feel free to contact our support team. We are constantly striving to better our service for you, and suggestions made are always welcome.