How to open .dat files on Mac?

If you have come across a .dat file on your Mac, chances are you won’t be able to find any proper application to open them.

So, to help you out, we will share complete details of what a .dat file is, how it is created and how you can open a .dat file on Mac.

How to open .dat file on mac

In short, a .dat file is a data file that is created by a program in your directory. The file is meant to be used by the program and hence cannot be opened using common applications.

How to open DAT files?—5 Most Effective Methods

There are multiple methods through which you can open .dat files. We will start with the simplest one.

Identifying the File and Changing the Extension

You can open the .dat file easily if you are able to figure out what the file actually is. Sometimes, the name gives it away.

For example, the file might be named Audio001.dat, which will make it obvious that you need to open it in an audio application.

So, you can either open the file directly in an audio application or you can change the extension of the file.

To change the extension, simply follow these steps:

  • Go to Finder and then Finder Preferences from your Mac’s screen.
  • Go to the Advanced tab.
  • Check the box behind “Show all file name extensions”.
  • Now, locate the .dat file, where you have downloaded it.
  • Rename the file and change the extension of the file.
  • You can also go back to your emails, download the file again and this time save it with the identified extension.
  • Open the file.

You must be aware that changing the file extension name to an unrecognizable format might corrupt the file. So, you should make a copy beforehand just to be safe.

Open the File in Mac TextEdit

If you were not able to identify the file from its name, then chances are it is a text file. Most of the time, people only send text files with email attachments.

So, you can try opening the file with Mac TextEdit to rule it out as an option. It is a quick method and can be accomplished with a few simple steps.

  • Locate the .dat file in your Mac.
  • Right Click on the file and move the cursor on the Open With option.
  • Select the TextEdit application from the options.

If the application shows you clear text, then it is a text file. You can read the file to know about its details and also what kind of program would be the best fit for it.

However, if the file doesn’t open or just shows gibberish signs instead of text, then it is not a text-based file.

Forward the File to Your Gmail Address 

The only problem with winmail.dat files is that you are trying to open them in the Mac email application when the sender was a Microsoft Outlook user.

So, forwarding the exact email to your Gmail can also resolve the issue. Follow these steps to successfully open the file.

  • Click on the Forward button or icon and write your Gmail address.
  • Open Gmail in your web browser and log into your account.
  • Locate the forwarded email.
  • Open the attachment in Googe Docs.

Google can easily interpret the .dat file and you will be able to download it in normal format.

So, whether you open the file in Google Docs or download it on your Mac, the file will be readable now.

Use the Online Tool

The issue of the .dat file is neither a new nor a rare one. Many Mac users have faced this issue. So, an online tool was developed specifically to resolve this issue.

Instead of wondering about what the file might be and hassling with extensions, you can use the online tool to immediately make the file readable.

Go to and follow these steps:

  • Click on Choose File button and locate the .dat file on your Mac.
  • You can also insert the URL of your .dat file from your email inbox.
  • Click on the big blue Start button.
  • Wait for a few minutes as the tool converts your file.
  • Download the converted file.

The tool can restore almost all files to their original format. Also, the file will be saved on the tool for 30 minutes after the download. So, if you accidentally delete it, you can download it again.

However, there is one flaw with this tool. If your file is larger than 50 MBs, then you won’t be able to convert it using this tool.

Open DAT Files on iPhone or iPad

If you have been constantly receiving .dat files on your iPhone or iPad, then it might be a good idea to download an application that can easily make them accessible.

TNEF’s Enough is available on Apple App Store and can be downloaded for free.

So, to open .dat files on your iPhone:

  • Go to App Store from your device and search for TNEF’s Enough.
  • Download and install the application.
  • Locate the .dat file on your phone.
  • Press and hold, and a drop-down menu will appear.
  • Tap on Open With and select the TNEF’s Enough option.
  • If the option doesn’t appear, you can click on Other and locate the option from there.
  • Once you open the file, you can then share it or save it in its original format.

These above-mentioned methods will allow you to open the .dat file. You can also download the TNEF’s Enough application on your Mac and use it to open the .dat files.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a DAT file?

Each file stored on your Mac has an exclusive format extension. For example, the .docx extension means that the file is a Word document, .jpg or .jpeg means it’s an image file, .mp4 means it’s a video file, and so on.
However, sometimes when using Mac, you are stuck with a .dat file. Now, the .dat file is simply a data file that either is created by software or has lost its original extension because of Microsoft Exchange Servers.
One thing is certain these files are not human-generated.

How DAT files are created?

First, let me clear your doubt about these files being created by programs.
Imagine you are playing a game but you have just begun and not unlocked all the upcoming levels. So, those levels will be stored as .dat files in your game directory. These files can be audio, images, videos, texts, editing, etc.  
Similarly, other program-specific files can also exist in this format. These files can only be accessed by the program in whose directory they are located. However, you can also manually open them if you want. We will share the methods later.
Now let’s come to the .dat file you are probably struggling with. Most commonly, when Mac users receive an email from a Windows user, the attachment received turns out to be a .dat file.
You might not be able to open this .dat file because you might not know what the file actually is. It might be an image, video, audio, document, or just some fancy text.
The file might be named winmail.dat file or AT0001.dat files. These files are created when the person who sent the email used Microsoft Outlook.
You won’t face this problem if the sender is using only plain text in the mail. However, if the sender has used any formats, templates, or attachments, then chances are you will receive a .dat file.
Hence, we will share some of the most efficient methods you can use to open the .dat file.

Can I open the .dat file on Mac?

Yes, you can open a .dat file on Mac. We have shared five detailed methods in the above guide that you can use to open the file. You can use all of these methods one by one and see which one works for you.

What program can open a .dat file on Mac?

There is no specific program if you do not know the source of the file. However, you can use TNEF’s Enough or website to convert the file and open it. There are also other methods you can use to open the file.

What is the quickest way to open a .dat file on Mac?

The quickest way to open the file is to forward it to your Gmail address and then open it through Gmail in your web browser. You can also convert it quickly using the website.


Being stuck with a .dat file on Mac is one of the most frustrating feelings. Especially if you are unable to open the file no matter what you do.

We hope that this article will provide you a detailed insight into .dat files and how to open them.

You can also contact the sender of the file, if possible, and ask them for details about the file. However, that is not always an option.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments. We will be sharing more Mac guides soon. Stay Tuned!

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