How To Open .DAT File

This Comprehensive Tutorial Explains what is a DAT File and how to Open .DAT File. You will also learn to open Winmail.dat on iPhone, iPad & Mac:

Some of you at some point in time might have been stuck with .DAT file that should have been an MS Word file. And now you don’t know what to do with it.

Here, in this tutorial, we are going to introduce you to the world of DAT files, what are they, why they are used, how to open them, etc.

How to open .dat File

What Is A .DAT File

.DAT extension is a generic file carrying critical information about the programs used for creating a specific file. It could either be in plain text or binary form. However, in some rare cases, you can find them in the form of the real data of a video file for VCDGear, CyberLink PowerDirector, and other similar programs.

They can come in the file of email attachments like winmail.dat files, videos, images, documents, etc that are typically created by Microsoft Exchange Servers. But many other programs create DAT files as well as references to a specific function in their respective program.

Usually, these files are hidden in the data folders of the application, but you still might see them often if you have received a wry attachment in your email with the extension or if you have similarly stored a video file.

Often the name tells us about the kind of file it is, otherwise, it’s really hard to figure out what kind of file you are dealing with, be it text, pictures, movies, or something entirely different.

For example:

DAT file name indicates that it is an audio file

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Here, the name of the file indicates that it is an audio file.

How To Open .Dat File

These files are usually designed to be used by the applications and not to be opened manually. This file in games like, Minecraft stores chunks of levels that are loaded as the game progresses. You can open them with the programs that have been created for such purpose or can even use a text editor or VLC. Opening a DAT file depends on the type of file you are dealing with and the information it contains.

Using Text Editor

You can use any text editor to open a DAT file. All text editors have a different process for opening a DAT file but they are easy to use.

Right-click on the file that you want to open and select the ‘open with’ option. And then choose your text editor.

Text Editor

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Now, if the file is text-based, it would look something like the image below:

DAT file is text-based

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Otherwise, it will look like the image given below:

DAT file

If your text editor resembles the above image, this means that it is not a text file and you need to open it with other tools or not open it at all.

Opening Video DAT Files

As we have mentioned earlier, some programs like VCDGear or CyberLink PowerDirector have video DAT files. You can open these files with the programs that carry them in their folder or you can use VLC.

Right-click on the file you want to open and select ‘open with’ option. Then select VLC from the menu. But don’t get your hopes high as most of the .DAT files in your program directories would be rather useless because they are often gibberish computer codes, well most of them are like such if not all.

Converting DAT Files

If nothing works and you have no clue about the source of the .DAT file, converting them to other formats like text, audio or video might work. Sometimes, VCD files that use .mpg format might end up being stored as a DAT file.

In that case, all you have to do is to right-click on the file and go to properties. In the place of the file name, replace .dat with the format you think the original file is in. However, before initiating the process, make a copy of the file and then convert it because the wrong conversion might corrupt the file.


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You can also use a file converter for the same purpose and the process will differ with the program you are using. There is a wide variety of file converter, both free and premium, available online.

How To Open A Winmail.dat File

Microsoft Outlook sometimes converts an email into .dat format automatically. This happens with other email servers as well. If you receive an email created in Outlook while you don’t have Outlook, then as an attachment you will get a winmail.dat file. You will not be able to see the full message. You can use to open this attachment.

For that, you will have to download the file from the email attachment, and for that go to

Winmail.dat Files

Select ‘choose file’, navigate to the DAT file you have downloaded, and click open. Once the file is uploaded, click on Start. After is finished, you will be taken to the result page to see the contents of that DAT file.

In iPhone And iPad

You can use the free tool TNEF’s Enough to open, view, and allow access to any data in a winmail.dat attachment in the iOS Mail app.

  • First exit the iOS mail app and download TNEF’s Enough from the App store.
  • Now reopen the mail that has winmail.dat attachment.
  • Tap on the attachment and select “Copy to TNEF’s Enough”.

In iPhone and iPad

  • If the file is readable, TNEF’s Enough will open it in iOS displaying the list of items in the attachment.

In Mac OS X

There are three ways to open a DAT file in Mac.

Method 1

This is the easiest method of all. All you have to do is to open a winmail.dat file, save it, and reliable it as the intended file type.

  • Open the mail with winmail.dat file attachment.
  • Right-click on the attachment and select ‘save attachment’.

winmail.dat example

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  • In save as box, replace .dat with the desired file extension type, then save the file.


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Method 2

This is the same process we have used above in the iPhone and iPad using TNEF Enough. Download the program from the App Store, then open the email with DAT attachment. Right-click on the file and copy to TNEF Enough. Select ‘Start’ and the program will show a result page with everything that’s inside that file.

Method 3

The Gmail web-based email clients can easily handle winmail.dat files and they can accurately interpret them as either an accurate file attachment or a rich text formatted email, well almost always. So, all you have to do is to forward the email with the DAT attachment to your Gmail account. Then open Gmail in the web browser for viewing the file.

Other DAT Files

Another program that uses the DAT file is DriveImage XML and its purpose is entirely different from the ones mentioned above. DriveImage XML is a backup program and its DAT file keeps the entire backup and an XML file accompanies it. You can’t view this file in any other program except DriveImage XML that created that file.

Many other programs use DAT files as well. Bitcoin Core uses the Bitcoin client wallet file named wallet.dat. Porteus Linux operating system saves its container files with the DAT file extension. For Piriform applications, they store portability and registration information. While Windows Registry stores hives and other registry information in DAT files.

Uninstaller information for Inno Setup is stored in them. These are just a few examples of the DAT files that are not meant to be opened manually. If you do, they will become corrupt and useless. If you want to open these files, you will have to open them with the programs that created them in the first place.

Suggested reading =>> How to open Cal Files

FAQs For DAT Files

Q #1) What program can we use to open a DAT file?

Answer: You can use a text editor or VLC to open a DAT file depending on what type of file it is. It is preferred you don’t tinker with them unless necessary.

Q #2) How to convert a DAT file into PDF?

Answer: You can use a PDF printer to convert a DAT file into a PDF. The process will depend on which PDF printer you are using. There are many such available online both free and premium.

Q #3) How to convert DAT into Word?

Answer: First, find the folder carrying the DAT file you want to convert. On top of the folder screen, there is a ‘tools’ option, click on it. Select ‘view’ option and uncheck the box beside “Hide extensions for known file types”. Hit ok.

Open word, go to ‘file’ and then click on ‘open. Now select the file you want to open. Now select ‘Save as’ and save select “Word 97-2003” in the ‘save as type’ option. Click OK and you are done.

Q #4) How to convert DAT to text in Excel?

Answer: Right-click on the file and select ‘open with’. Select Microsoft Excel and uncheck the box beside “Always use the selected program to open this kind of file” option. Click OK. Now go to ‘File’ and select ‘save as’. Name your file and select ‘save as type’. Select CSV (Comma Separated Values) and ‘Save’ the file.

Q #5) What is Bootstat dat?

Answer: It is a Trojan horse virus that targets Windows OS computers that corrupts the system files and arbitrarily changes the system settings to infect the system. So, no matter what, don’t ever try to open it or even click on it.

Q #6) Can I delete .DAT files?

Answer: Yes, you can, just like you can delete other files. But if you delete the wrong .DAT file, a program might get corrupt and you will end up losing it. So, before you hit that delete button, make sure the file is not associated with any program.


DAT summarizes a vast and diverse range of files that are critical to software and they should be left alone. Tinkering or tampering with them can lead the related software to become useless. These files can’t be modified readily and are obscure for a reason.

Recommended reading => How to open .Key File on Windows

But if you want to open a .DAT file, use the proper program. If you think it has some media you can play or in case of some text, you can read, go ahead, open it but make a copy of the .DAT file first. Don’t interfere with the original one.