How to Open a DAT File in Windows 10
Any file used to store data with the .dat extension is considered a DAT file. It can contain many different formats, but most commonly, it’s just plain text. However, since there’s more than one type of file, there’s no shortage of programs you can use to open them.
First, you have to determine whether it’s video or text-based to figure out how to open a DAT file. That can be tricky since there’s nothing about the file that discloses its format right off the bat. One way to do it is by using a code-reading program which sounds complicated at first, but is pretty straightforward. In this article, we’ll go over some of the more common tools you can use to open and convert differently.DAT files.
What Is a DAT File?
Generic data files with the DAT extension are meant to store important information related to the program that created them. More often than not, they’re bundled with DLL and other config files. They’re mostly hidden away in data directories, but sometimes you can get one as an email attachment.
Each kind of DAT file is created and handled by different software. The data is then used as a blueprint for various system tasks. Since it’s hard to know whether a DAT file includes images, videos, text, or software configuration files, there’s no one way to open them. You’ll have to use a different program each time.
For text-based DAT files, Windows 10 has a built-in text editor – the Notepad ++. Of course, you’re not limited to using a pre-installed program. There are many alternative solutions you can download to your PC for free or even use online.
However, most devices and programs, including iOS and Android, iTunes, iMovie, and Windows Media Player, do not support DAT video files. Instead, you have to use a video player that supports DAT files explicitly if you want to play them without any problems.
How to Open a DAT File Using a Text Editor
Usually, DAT files are text-based and can be read using a code-editing computer program. Windows Notepad ++ is an obvious solution since it’s already installed on your PC. Here’s how you can open DAT files by using the Windows 10 text editor:
- Locate the DAT file on your computer.
- Highlight the file with your cursor. Right-click to open the drop-down menu.
- Click “Open With” to access a list of recommended programs.
- Select “Notepad ++” from the options panel.
If it doesn’t open and instead, a new window appears with the word “NUL” written all over, the DAT file isn’t text-based. You’ll have to try another program.
Windows 10 is compatible with a wide range of third-party text editors you can download for free. Even though Notepad ++ is pretty solid, it’s not immune to glitches. If you think the DAT file is text-based but still won’t open, try using one of the following alternatives:
All of these present a solid alternative to Notepad ++ when it comes to handling DAT files.
How to Open Winmail.dat Files
Email servers sometimes translate emails into the DAT format automatically. This is especially the case with Microsoft Outlook. If you receive an Outlook message but don’t have it installed on your PC, you’ll get a winmail.dat file attached instead. You won’t be able to open the whole email without using a third-party website.
Winmaildat.com is an online service created as a response to the Outlook configuration problems. You can access it with any browser and use it to open the DAT email attachment. The online tool will show you what the file contains and allow you to convert and download the data. It only takes a few seconds and is pretty straightforward:
- Download the email attachment to your local drive.
- Open your preferred browser.
- Navigate to the search bar at the top of the screen and type Winmaildat.com.
- Move your cursor to the “Choose File” tab and click on it.
- A new window will appear. Browse through your PC and locate the DAT file.
- Click on the file and then “Open” to upload.
- Hit the blue “Start” button. Wait a few seconds until Winmaildat.com processes the file.
- Once it’s finished, you’ll see the contents of the email on the “Result” page. Click on the file you want to download to your PC.
How to Open DAT Files in Excel
If you’re sure a particular DAT file contains plain text, you can view it in an Excel spreadsheet. For example, if a work email came in the form of a DAT file attachment, feel free to open it with the Microsoft Office program. The process is pretty similar to uploading other types of files, with a tiny distinction. Here’s what you need to do:
- Launch Excel. If it’s not pinned to your taskbar, you can use the search bar at the bottom-left corner of the screen.
- Open a new workbook and click the “Files” tab in the top-left corner of the screen.
- A new window will appear. Select “Open” from the panel on the left-hand side.
- Click “Browse” from the list of options. Open the folder with the DAT file.
- To view it, click on the tab in the bottom-right corner of the screen. Select “All Files” from the drop-down list. Click “Open.”
- A pop-up box will appear. To complete the process, click “Next” when prompted, then “Finish.”
How to Open Video DAT Files
In most cases, video-based DAT files originate in video editing software, so you can usually open them with one. For example, if you have CyberLink PowerDirector installed, it’s a safe bet that’s where the file was created, especially if it’s stored in an adjacent directory. However, if you can’t figure out where the file came from, you can try your luck with a regular video player.
As mentioned, Windows 10 doesn’t have a built-in video player that supports DAT files. While Windows Media Player is a reliable playback tool, it’s limited to the most common formats. You can download a third-party app like VLC Player and use it for playing DAT files. Here’s how to do it:
- Open your chosen browser and go to this website.
- Click the orange “Download” button to get the player.
- Once you install, find the DAT file on your PC. Right-click on it to open a list of recommended actions.
- Click “Open With” and then select the VLC player from the list.
You’ll be able to open the file, but keep in mind most DAT files are just computer codes. There’s hardly any point in opening it with a video player.
How to Convert DAT Files
If you have a preferred program, you can use a file converter to change the DAT file to a corresponding format. Of course, the steps vary depending on the type.
There are several online tools you can use to do this. We already mentioned Winmail.dat that helps you decode broken Outlook messages.
If you want to change a video-based DAT file to an MP4 format, it’s more convenient to download a desktop program. For Windows 10, one of the more popular solutions is Win FF. It’s entirely free for download and very user-friendly. Here’s how to use it:
- By using your preferred browser, download the program from this website.
- Locate the DAT file on your computer. Right-click on it and select “Rename.”
- Change the extension from .dat to .MP4 or another preferred format.
- Click on Win FF to launch the program.
- In the toolbar above, click the “+Add” button. Find the DAT file and open it.
- Click “Convert To” and set it to MP4.
- You can adjust the quality settings and other features if you wish. Hit “Convert” once you’re done.
If the file is used to store config data, there’s no need to convert it to another format. Also, keep in mind that sometimes converting a DAT file can make it unusable in the program that created it.
DAT’s No Easy Task
In most cases, DAT files contain configuration data Windows OS uses for running particular tasks. Other times it’s just plain text. Either way, you can use Notepad ++ to open them. If you’re not keen on the built-in text editor, you can turn to third-party websites and apps.
When it comes to video-based DAT files, you don’t have the option to use a pre-installed program. Instead, download a third-party video player or consider converting the file in a Windows Media Player-friendly format.
Lastly, Microsoft Outlook has a particular glitch where it converts regular email attachments into DAT files. If that happens, there’s a custom-made online solution in the form of the Winmail.dat website.
Have you ever converted a DAT file? What’s your preferred text editor? Comment below and tell us if there’s a way to know what type of information is contained in a particular DAT file.