How to Check the File Format of a Document or Photo on iPhone

Did you download an attachment from an email or a file from a site? On iPhone, the majority of native and third-party applications will not display file extensions. This is not a problem for most, as you can preview common file formats using your iPhone itself or download the appropriate app from the App Store using basic judgment. But it doesn’t always work.

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If you want to avoid potential long-term compatibility issues, it’s best to determine the file format or extension of a document, video, or photo. Fortunately, there are several ways to view file extensions on the iPhone.

One method is to use an option in the native Files application itself, which is fast and painless. And the other relies on creating a file extension shortcut; it takes time to create one, but such a shortcut can be very handy in some cases. Let’s take a look at both.

Use the Info option in the Files application

The Files app on your iPhone gives you quick access to files stored in iCloud Drive and other third-party cloud storage services. It also displays files created by certain applications (Word, Pages, etc.) that use local storage. And it has a nifty option that lets you reveal additional details about any file, including format or extension.

Start by navigating to the location of the document, video or image, then make a tactile tactile gesture (long press) on the element. In the menu that appears, press Info.

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You can then see the file format listed next to the file name. You can also see additional information about the file, such as its size, resolution (if it’s an image), when it was last modified, etc.

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However, some applications on the iPhone, such as the native Photos application, do not allow access to their files via the Files application.

In this case, consider sharing the document or image to a location in the Files application (ideally to the location on my iPhone). You can then check its format by pressing and holding it and pressing Info.

Important: When sharing images from the Photos app, it is best to use the Share in files option on the file sharing sheet. Copying and pasting images directly can cause iPhone to automatically convert to different formats (such as HEIC photos in JPG format).

Create and use a shortcut

With the use of the Shortcuts app on your iPhone, you can create a shortcut that will reveal the extension of any file in the form of a notification. This is ideal in cases where you cannot access a file or photo through the Files app, such as with photos on your iPhone.

If you can’t find the Shortcuts app on your iPhone, see this troubleshooting guide before you begin.

Step 1: Open the Shortcuts app.

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2nd step: Switch to the My Shortcuts tab, then tap Create Shortcut. Tap the “ Search apps and actions ” option at the bottom of the screen, then find and add the two actions listed below in the order in which they appear:

  • Get file details
  • Show notifications
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Step 3: Tap the icon with three dots in the upper right corner of the shortcut. On the screen that follows, turn on the switch next to Show in share sheet. Tap Done to return to the previous screen.

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Step 4: Make the following adjustments to the actions you added in step 2:

  • Get file details – Tap the word Details, then select File Extension from the menu that appears. Then press the word File, choose the Select magic variable option, then press the shortcut entry that appears at the top of the screen.
  • View notification – Tap “Hello everyone”, delete these words, then select File Extension.

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Note: By default, the action Display notification is accompanied by a sound. If you want to remove this from the shortcut, expand the action (press Show more), then disable the button next to Play sound.

When you’re done, tap Next.

Step 5: Add a name for the shortcut (such as Show extension), and then tap Done.

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The shortcut is ready for action. Whenever you want to check the file format of a document or photo in a native or third-party application, open the share sheet, and then tap the name of the shortcut. In this example, it’s Show extension, as shown in the screenshot below.

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You will see the file extension immediately in the form of a notification. Cool, right?

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Note: The shortcut also works in the Files application, but using the Info context menu option works much faster to reveal file extensions.

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Know your format

The above two methods should be very helpful in determining the format of a file. Using the Files app is handy for most, but if you want to check the extension of documents or photos in other apps, taking a few minutes to create a file extension shortcut should be invaluable .

Before leaving, here is a little advice. For photos, in particular, you can also use the third-party Google Photos gallery app to easily check image extensions. All you have to do is swipe up on a photo to reveal the format.


Google Photos can also back up photos from your iPhone. See the following article for how to move your photos to Google Photos from the iPhone.

Last updated on May 23, 2020

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