Supported Media and File Types

Any file you wish to upload should have a three or four letter file extension (such as .txt or .html) which designates its type and is a commonly used extension name recognized by web browsers. Be sure to give your files sensible names - use only alphanumeric characters and don't use spaces. For example: If you wish to upload a Microsoft Word document, it must be named similarly to myfile.doc, .doc being the file extension for Word. (see the table below for commonly used file extensions.)

This also helps because web browsers such as Netscape Navigator are pre-configured to recognize common file types. That way, a student can click on a file such as 'sample.xls' and the browser will automatically launch the associated program, in this case, Excel. Accordingly, items that are uploaded may require that the users/students taking your course have the associated program residing on the computer they use.

Supported file types

(listed alphabetically by extension)

Extension File Type Associated Program or Application
.aam Multimedia Authorware Plug-in
.aiff Audio Audio program
.asf Multimedia Windows Media Player
.au Audio RealPlayer
.avi Video Windows Media Player (not Mac-compatible!)
.doc Document Microsoft Word or other word processor
.ea Audio Java enabled Web Browser

.ev, .ev2


Java enabled Web Browser





GIF Image

Graphics program or web browser

.html, .htm

Web Page

HTML editor or web browser

.jpg, .jpeg, .jif

JPEG Image

Graphics program or web browser

.mpg, .mpeg


Windows Media Player or RealPlayer



Quicktime Player



Adobe Acrobat


PNG Image

Graphics program or web browser

.ppt, .pps

Slide Show

PowerPoint & PowerPoint Player



Quicktime Player








Rich Text

WordPad, BBedit or word processor



Shockwave Plug-in



Shockwave Plug-in



Shockwave Flash Plug-in

.tif, .tiff

TIFF Image

Graphics program


Plain Text

Text or HTML editor, word processor



Audio program



WordPerfect or other word processor



Microsoft Excel or other spreadsheet app.

File sizes

When developing your course materials, remember that the students may be connecting to the Internet via a modem. Files should be kept small enough so users with slower connections will still be able to access the files in a reasonable time. If this is not possible, try to minimize file size by using a file compression tool such as WinZip. These are often available free online or for a small fee.

If you cannot keep the file size down, an alternative is to provide the student with information describing what the file is and why it is important. Often, simply letting a student know that the download may take longer than usual will diffuse any frustration associated with the long process.

Use this chart as a reference when determining the download times for files:



100K File

1MB File

5MB File

10MB File

14.4 Modem
(older modem)


66 sec

11 min

57 min

114 min

28.8 Modem


33 sec

6 min

28 min

57 min



14 sec

2 min

12 min

24 min

(fast on-campus connection)


1 sec

7 sec

34 sec

68 sec

Keep in mind that times will vary based on internet traffic and connection speed.


  • Use the smallest possible graphics and sound files.
    Technical example: 8-bit graphics display and animate more quickly and occupy less memory than 24-bit graphics, which are three times larger.
  • Break the file into smaller files and have students download it piece by piece.
  • Compress the files. A compressed file is a little larger than half the size of the original version. Compressed files must be decompressed before you can run them.
Last updated: 

January 14, 2015