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Open-Thread Wednesday: What’s Your Preferred File Type?

Screenshot of icons representing various file types

Electronic files — many of us receive a few of them every day. Often enough we also find ourselves having to share files, whether via email, shared file storage, or a website or LMS.

Unless it’s something I’ll need to edit extensively, I much prefer to receive documents in PDF format. Whenever possible, I like to work without paper, but I don’t like to carry my computer with me everywhere I go. Most of the time, I read documents on my iPad. PDF format works best for that (and there are plenty of iPad apps available for PDF markup).

PDF is also the format I prefer to use for sharing documents, provided I’m not sending them to someone who’s going to need to edit them extensively (in which case, RTF or plain text is best). When I send a PDF, RTF, or plain text file, I needn’t worry about what software’s installed on the recipient’s computer. No matter the operating system, and no matter the recipient’s preferred software, there’ll be something available that can open the file.

That’s also why I prefer PDF format for distribution via website or LMS. There’s an added advantage, too. In the browsers I most commonly use (Chrome, Safari, Firefox), most file types get downloaded to the user’s computer when clicked. In contrast, PDFs display in a new browser tab. The user has the option to download the file, but isn’t forced to.

What about you? What file type(s) do you prefer for sharing, and to have shared with you? Let us know in the comments.

[Lead image CC-licensed by the author.]

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