A computer is much more complex than any user could imagine. If you knew its history and evolution, you would really be surprised with what we have been able to achieve today. And among the many advances, today we want to talk about executable files.

These are special files that have the particularity of working by themselves, simply using an operating system, without having to install programs. In fact, they are the elements that make a program conform and appear out of nowhere (in many cases).

Are you curious? Do you want to learn more about executables? Although it can be a bit complex in terms of vocabulary, we are going to explain it in such a way that, when you finish the text, you are, yourself, capable of explaining what this resource consists of and you can get an idea, looking at your folders, of which ones they are. and which ones are not.

What are executable files and what are they really for?

The executable file, always referring to computing, is that file that, due to its own characteristics, can be interpreted by a machine without requiring specific programs for it. Is that it will be the computer itself that recognizes and executes it thanks to its composition. It is based on basic instructions own according to their purpose.

The usual thing is that, at the same time, binary and include scripts (They also have instructions that other software will interpret), although it does not always have to be that way. Its basis is instructions in machine code for specific processors.

In some cases, we also find bytecode in need of interpretation for what would be known as “making system calls”, something more complex but that also happens every day when we use a computer.

Be that as it may, if it is accompanied by others digital files, the executable will be the one that starts its execution, loading and handling.

We can classify them in:

  • Portables. Its execution is available on various platforms.
  • Not portable. This execution can only be carried out on the platform for which the file was designed.

what is executable file

What we can conclude is that the concept has become ambiguous, or quite the opposite, because, as we advance in computing, the characteristics of the files have been changing, evolving to create more complex files that make classification fuzzy between a mere executable and a more complex script or file.

In the end, what we can determine is that the essence of this is that inside it has the instructions to be executed, these are not conferred or used by any other type of file or program, although it is true that, in addition to these, we can find extra information in some cases.

Self-executing files

Within these we can differentiate what we call files self-executing. These have the necessary instructions so that they themselves can do the tasks entrusted to them.

There is no original software necessary for this, but they can start to work on any computer regardless of what they have installed both in the system and afterwards.

Beware of executable files! The whole group is dangerous in its own right by its very nature. However, the autorun is even more attractive to that the cybercriminal on duty convert it into malwareBeing, as you can suppose, the contagion of the equipment much faster and easier, since it does not require action by the user or specific elements.

Difference between executable files and non-executable files

We begin by indicating that the executable works by itself, running by the computer and carrying out tasks according to coded instruction.

The non-executable is an information container file; It is not executed by the machine but by a specific program for it (an image with a viewer or an editor, an audio with a player, etc.) and the task it has is specific. In fact, the computer cannot carry out said execution.

The types are, on the one hand, scripts or compiled and, on the other, text files, spreadsheets, videos, databases. That is, the latter are contained data that can be displayed to user Y, possibly, Modify if you have the necessary (extra) tool.

Types of executable file extensions and their associated programs to open them

On this occasion we cannot, as we always do, show you in the table, what softwares are used to open these types of files, as we have already seen, they do not need them. What we will show you are some of its features and operating system where they work.

As we always say, the table is made up of those most famous or functional executable files, but there are many more. Although, for a conventional use of a computer, knowing these will be more than enough for you to consider yourself a user above average in this regard.

System / Program Features Extension .exe

  • Executable par excellence
  • Very common in the installation of all kinds of desktop programs
  • Maintains the executable size
  • It is created by compiling (it only runs on the chosen platform) or by assembling
  • Windows
  • macOS (emulating PC architecture)
  • Linux (requires external software installed or an emulator)


  • They store installation information for A-Air, a software development runtime app.
  • The usual thing is that they are distributed by download although we can receive them complete by various physical and digital means.
  • Requires Adobe Air.
  • Adobe Air (MacOS and Windows)


  • They are usually executable scripts within a program, specific for this
  • This is the list of commands that the system executes in order
  • They are displayed as plain text but are not editable
  • Commonly used for screen savers, installed in the background
  • Display vector graphics or animations
  • Ideal as Trojans for not being able to overwrite
  • Creator program
  • Common text editor


  • Information written in the language that gives it its name, Visual Basic
  • Include information on projects in development
  • This can be local or occur on the network
  • It occurs in ACSII
  • Its components vary completely from one to another: dialogues, interfaces, classes, forms, logos …
  • Windows (Dreamweaver, Visual Studio, and WScript)
  • macOS (Dreamweaver only)
  • All text editors


  • Process in batches; chain program executions
  • Used by the Windows console
  • Plain ASCII text
  • They are created and edited in text editors.
  • Windows
  • macOS (parallel desktop)
  • Text editors (creation, visualization and editing)


  • The first
  • Very simple structure, single segment
  • Restrict size
  • They look, in part, like a disk image
  • This image is stored linearly
  • Modern platforms based on Windows but not x64
  • DOS emulators
  • macOS (on parallel desktops)


  • Additional executable library information
  • Modularize executable code, making it less cumbersome
  • Its dynamic loading allows better system performance
  • A generic code allows its use in various applications


  • Data encoded in binary code, without text
  • By parts of 8 characters, different elements such as sounds or images are interpreted
  • Part translates into text and another deals with formatting and functionalities
  • They usually include programs necessary for the OS to work with it
  • These are usually CD images
  • Translates to plain text to avoid improper execution attempt
  • Text editors
  • Hexadecimal editors
  • CD-ROM Creation Programs


  • It has an application format
  • Used for applications, distributing and installing packaged components
  • Consisting of a compiled Android program and other parts in a single file
  • Generally, unofficial use of a software (beta version or without support, replica …)
  • JAR variant
  • Android Systems
  • File archiving software with Android emulator


  • The quintessential executable extension for macOS programs
  • Analogous to EXE
  • It is a package file, which allows us to view its content with a right click.
  • They include both the executable of the application to which they correspond and its resources.
  • These, in addition, can be moved and modified, although we never advise it.
  • The logic of a program
  • They can be tracked to offer resources that are of interest to you and that are installed on the machine (load components, libraries for the implementation of functions, etc.)
  • macOS
  • Windows (only display if WinRAR is used)

.ds or .dsa

  • Specific for 3D modeling
  • Its storage is in ASCII
  • The software uses it to apply presets and to import and export more formats
  • DAZ 3D Studio (Windows and macOS)


  • Scripts with a specific programming language, usually in C or Perl.
  • Its use is for basic executions on the internet
  • It is the standard protocol for external programs and apps to interact with a server
  • They have web server storage
  • Can be edited before compilation
  • Content is plain text
  • macOS (Bare Bones Edit, MacroMates TextMate)
  • Windows (Notpad)
  • Linux (Rich ER)


  • A file that links to various programs to make them work
  • Sometimes dome shortcuts or links to other executables are represented
  • They are generated when making shortcuts and when programs are modified
  • It works by direct path to an EXE or similar
  • Includes information such as how much memory the program will use or how much your window will measure


  • Commands and their order
  • Batch file
  • Essential in the operation of the operating system
  • Main target of malware
  • Windows
  • Windows with DOS
  • macOS (on parallel desktop)


  • Representation of Windows Script File files
  • Executable scripts do it in different routines, especially VSScript and JScript
  • The content is usually plain text but we also find XML
  • This happens automatically if you have WScript or CScript installed
  • You open them with simple text editors


  • We find it in all kinds of applications for iOS devices.
  • They are transferred by iTunes.
  • They are stored in zip and are decompressed with any decompressor-type tool, although they do not require compression to use


  • Windows’ own programs that run on the bars of the operating system itself
  • Very general (games, extensions, search tools …)
  • The source code files are very varied (HTML, CSS, JS …)
  • Likewise, they would include other types of files such as development or web
  • Stores content in zip
  • Format already discontinued
  • Users can create their own gadgets

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, we will answer you as soon as possible, and it will surely be of great help to more members of the community. Thank you! 😉

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