Windows “Hide File Extensions” Pet Peeve

I install Windows on lots of computers. I’ve been doing this as part of my job for years. And for years, at least since Windows Vista, one thing has irritated me more than anything else about this operating system. It’s the option “Hide extensions for known file types.”

What an ignorant thing to be set as a default option in the most used “operating system” in the world! First off, it’s an oxymoron. With emphasis on the “moron” part. If the file extension is hidden, the user no longer knows what file type it is, so it’s now an unknown file type.

OK, so Windows still knows what file type it is, but the user doesn’t. Example: A file called “readme.txt” looks like this with the stupid option enabled: “readme.” But what if I’m a bad guy and I send a file full of malware called “readme.exe?” This file also looks like this to the user: “readme.” The first one should be safe to click on. It will open in Notepad or whatever application the user has selected as the default for text files. But woe to the user who keeps this dumb option enabled and clicks on the executable file that he thinks is a text file.

But the icons will be different, you say. Yes, but as the writer of the bad malware readme.exe file I can embed any icon I want, including the little text file icon. See above.

Microsoft has had ample opportunities to remove this as the default option for Windows installs. But even with the latest version of Windows 10 (20H2 as I write this), it’s still there.

Let the first thing you do after reading this be to uncheck that option.

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by | May 30, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments