What is .asc and what is it used for?

The .asc file format looks simple at first glance, but there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. .asc isn’t just used for text files - it’s also used for secure transfers and can contain Flash ActionScripts. Keep reading to find out more about the file ending.

What is an .asc file?

There are a number of file endings that you might encounter from time to time but aren’t actually familiar with. .asc is likely one of these file formats. You may very well have come across .asc files - they’re relatively widespread. There are different types of asc formats, but two stand out as the most commonly used.

.asc for secure communication

One major use of .asc files is for encryption and secure communication. In this case, the file will contain text consisting of ASCII characters (American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These .asc files are used to communicate securely via email or other text-based media. Online security alerts are also frequently published as .asc files. The file format is also used by the encryption software PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) for sending digitally encrypted messages that are ASCII encoded and can contain binary data like pictures, which are encoded as text.

ActionScript with .asc

.asc is used for more than just encrypted communication. ActionScripts in Flash also frequently use this file ending. The corresponding programming language is used to create and then control interactive Flash applications. The .asc files are needed for the software’s application events, for example, including loading processes, communication with other servers, and streaming media. These .asc files are also simple texts that contain the necessary information. Since Flash is used less and less and is being replaced by HTML5, this use of .asc might also decrease in the future.

How to open .asc files

.asc files can easily be opened as a simple text file by various programs. In Windows, you can use text editors like Editor and Wordpad. However, if you want to open an .asc file using an Office program, you’ll have to activate conversions. If you don’t, the .asc file will still open but may not be displayed correctly.

.asc files that are meant to be used with ActionScript can be created with the Adobe Media Encoder or the Flash Media Live Encoder. Free programs like Mozilla Thunderbird and SeaMonkey, the code editors Notepad, Notepad++ and Notepad2, Gpg4win, and the GNU Privacy Guard can also open .asc files. Mac users can use Apple’s TextEdit, in addition to the various Adobe programs.

What to do when an .asc file doesn’t open

Due to its relatively simple functionality, .asc files can typically be opened without too much difficulty. If you do encounter any problems, try opening the file with another program that’s compatible with .asc. If this still doesn’t work, the file might be damaged. You can either try to repair it on your own with an appropriate tool or create the file again. If the .asc files came from a third party, they might have to recreate the file.

Summary: A useful file format for the future

.asc is a file ending that has a variety of practical uses. The decline of Flash applications means that .asc files will probably be used less and less. However, .asc remains a good choice when it comes to encrypted communication. An especially great feature is that .asc files can be opened with simple text programs.

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