Naming Files — Filename Extensions and .WPD

by Kendall Callas

Did you know that in place of *.* at the FileOpen screen you can use *LETTER* to list just your letters? And *MEMO* works, too! That's the short answer to a long question. Let me explain ...

Filenames have evolved significantly since the days of DOS and Windows 3.1. Long filenames make it easy to pack in useful information. But filename extensions — how can we do without them? Read on and you'll see that you don't have to.

It used to be very handy to name files with 3-letter extensions according to document type. Tagging filenames with codes like .LTR, .MMO, .FAX, and .ENV made it easy to list subsets of documents at the List Files or FileOpen screen with filename specifications such as *.LTR, *.MMO, *.FAX, and *.ENV.

The New Default: .WPD

The problem is that Windows 95 (and later) expects you to name files with extensions that identify their software. Indeed, WordPerfect For Windows (6.x and later) does this automatically, using ".WPD" (WordPerfect Document) as the default filename extension. (Of course, you can turn this off if you wish by deselecting "Use default extension on open and save" at Tools, Settings, Files, Document in WP8; in WP6.x/7 that's Edit Preferences, Files, Document.)

The Windows world uses filename extensions in a new and better way, and we must adapt. Fortunately, it turns out to be simpler than you might expect.

Display Filename Extensions.

If you save a WordPerfect For Windows document, typing only EXAMPLE as its name, WordPerfect will name it EXAMPLE.WPD. You may not see the extension (.WPD), because Windows 95 (and later) by default does not display filename extensions, presumably to eliminate confusing details. However, if you named some of your files with meaningful extensions, you'll want to change this setting so that you can see them.

Set Windows 95 to show filename extensions this way: Right click on the Start button (at the left edge of the Taskbar) and select Explore from the menu that pops up. Once Windows Explorer loads, select View from the menu, then Options. At this screen, deselect "Hide MS-DOS file extensions".

Another tip, while you're here: Select "Display the full MS-DOS path in the title bar". This will assure that the path of each file is visible at the top of its document window (instead of the occasional omission, "X:\...\filename").

The .WPD Advantage.

There are two advantages if you use the .WPD extension for WordPerfect documents:

Listing Subsets of Files.

But you can have your cake and eat it too! Windows 95 (and later) allows great flexibility when listing files with the asterisk (*) wildcard character. Under the limits of the old "8.3" (FILENAME.EXT) filename rules, the * could only be used to expand the right part of the filename or extension; for example, *.LTR or SMITH* or SMITH.L*

Now, using WordPerfect 7 (or later) under Windows 95 (or later), the * may be used to expand text embedded within a filename. That means the specification *.extension.* will list files by extension. For example, *.LTR.* will include:

Of course, in a world of long filenames, there's no longer any need to limit filename extensions to 3 characters. So, to rephrase, *.LETTER.* will include: You might also want to experiment with *LETTER* (no periods). It will list files which contain "LETTER" anywhere in the filename or extension, for example: In this example, *JONES* and *FEE* might also be useful sets of files to examine, depending on your needs.

Having struggled with this issue in a number of different environments, my recommendation is to double up the extension; that is, name files with two extensions:

(Of course, if you've left WordPerfect set to use the .WPD default extension, you don't need to type it.)

Make up your own set of filename extension codes: LETTER, MEMO, FAX, ENV ... these are just the beginning. Think about your work and your document retrieval needs, devise a filenaming scheme, then motivate everyone in your office to follow it.

You can have the best of both worlds if you go with the .WPD extension and remember to use two asterisks (*LETTER*) when listing subsets of your files at the FileOpen screen. This allows easy, powerful listing of subsets of your documents, preserves the ability to print files from FileOpen, and extends a convenience to your e-mail correspondents when you send WordPerfect documents as attachments.

Say, it's taking a while but personal computers are getting better after all!

Copyright (C) 1999 by microCounsel. All rights reserved.

[ Home Page | Articles List | Top of this article ]