Question Extensions of file formats lists grouped by kind of data they hold

Jan 28, 2021
Can anyone share a list of extensions of file formats? Or know where such more or less complete lists can be available? Including some legacy / obsolete PC formats, those for Amiga and Commodore, the ones for Unix etc.?

I already studied the file formats listed in various Wikipedia articles- which were far from complete and sometimes presented not in convenient way. I also had checked what my various programs support- but that method is even worse, being not only error-prone but also tedious [and in best case scenario narrowing future data only to software capable to running on my operating system]

I am interested in formats holding data that is:
  • archives [like ARJ, ISO, ZIP etc.]
  • audio [like MIDI, VOX, TTA]
  • documents, text, spread sheaths etc. [like PDF, INFO, HTML etc.]
  • executable instructions [like AHK, COM, MSI etc.]
  • scripts [like AHK, REG, APPLESCRIPT etc.]
  • configurations [like REG, INI, MANIFEST etc.]
  • 3D raster and vectors graphics [like DWG, MESH, BLEND etc.]
  • 2D raster and vectors graphics [like DWG, GIF, PSD, etc.]
  • video [like GIF, MPEG-DASH, VOB etc.]
  • playlists [like M3U, ASX, PLS etc.]
What you're asking for is much the same method similar to data recovery software, the methods used to identify file types when file table are lost. The problem is that there is no global database that include every file format that have existed. There are probably in the thousands those long gone proprietary apps with proprietary/undocumented file format and header.

Think of this - there are many big companies out there that provide industrial solutions and software that never gets used by other than a few people that use just this kind of system, and some of those apps use "project folders" that each can contains hundreds of files dispersed over a large number of unique file types/formats, all being proprietary and maybe leaderless.

And there you have the often used xml format, but can have a huge number of file endings because many apps use that format. So how can you make a rule that are capable to guess what application or original file ending that it's supposed to have. Or maybe just rename all files with xml contents to .xml ?

Btw : often when you install a piece of software in Windows, there are also installed a iFilter along with it, so that Windows get capable to search within those files. One good example on this is Libre Office. The user files are actually zip-packages, but that iFilter ensure you're able to search the contents of the files as if plain text, included some metadata included in the files.
Jan 28, 2021
Yes, I know: there are issues / with metadata, of approach to treating e.g. lyrics file accompanying an audio file, propriety and legacy formats, different operating systems, temporary files created when something is edited etc.

But on the the other hand there is for example [free] XnView which is capable of reading 500 graphic file formats. And in the 1990s and early 2000s I used to extract music from games from all kinds of unknown to me file formats

Thus the main problem here is
that there is no global database that include every file format that have existed
And so that is precisely the reason behind me posting this question - with a need for specyfic and good sources answers
Unfortunately it does not present lists like or - it only offers database with a search option
Then you probably found what you're looking for.

The problem with file extensions is they're completely arbitrary and can mean anything. They're just for the benefit of the user to tell the OS which program to open them up with. For example, is "SPC" a music file? It is to me because that's the file extension for SNES audio dumps. But Wikipedia says otherwise: . Likewise what about the "PSF" extension? To me that's also a music file because it's the file extension for PlayStation 1 and 2 audio dumps. But it's also an Adobe Photoshop file. I mean heck, you'd think "EXE" files are Windows only, but at work we have an application that compiles to Linux using the "EXE" extension, but you can run it anyway on Linux.

Trying to be completely comprehensive about this is impractical. At best you could catalog files that people are most likely going to encounter and use for a particular application.