How can I view the contents of a .DAT file?

Saurabh Banwaskar October 22, 2012

I have some educational software which contains some lectures. The database for this software is stored in a file named as “contents.dat”. Unfortunately I have lost the serial key provided to start the application. I have tried many database editors and dat players like VLC and so on but I couldn’t view that file.

I think the file is linked with .DLL files because I also found another two files named “shockwaveflashobjects.dll” and “contentinfo.dll”. Is it possible to view the contents of the database? If so, how?

  1. Rakesh Mishra
    November 14, 2012 at 7:12 am

    u can use power iso to handle this files

  2. Rakesh Mishra
    November 14, 2012 at 7:11 am

    u can use power iso

  3. Aniket Singh
    October 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    The easiest way to open a DAT file is to double-click on it and let your PC decide which default application should open the file. If no program opens the DAT file then you probably don't have an application installed that can view and/or edit DAT files.
    Warning: Take great care when opening executable file formats received via email or downloaded from websites you're not familiar with

  4. kumar raja
    October 25, 2012 at 6:16 am

    I think Its not posible to open some files that may be linked with other files If any file is missing it will not open and u may follow this links

  5. Douglas Mutay
    October 24, 2012 at 9:00 am

    First thing to know is that a file with the DAT file extension is a Data file associated with other program to work properly. So the easiest way to open a DAT file is to double-click on it and let your PC decide which default application should open the file. If no program opens the DAT files then you probably don’t have an application installed that can view DAT files. You can try a text editor like Notepad to start, because many files are text-only files meaning no matter the file extension, a text editor may be able to properly display the file's contents.
    But if the DAT file is actually a generic "data" file, the program that generated the DAT file is your best bet for opening it. If it’s a video files, for instance, you can open it with a media player

    • Saurabh Banwaskar
      October 24, 2012 at 11:18 am


  6. Anay Chaubal
    October 24, 2012 at 6:52 am

    .DAT is a general purpose extension used by many software to store their data files in.

    VLC opens .dat files from a video cd.

    where as many programs can create .dat files, you may only use the creator program to open a .dat file, since only the creator will know the format of the .dat that it has created. in your case, the maker of the program created a database, and uses .dll files to decrypt / view / access / modify it. so you will need to know which program was used to create that .dat file, and you can use the same program to open it.

  7. Boni Oloff
    October 24, 2012 at 5:19 am

    .DAT is video files, you can open with Windows Media Player.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      October 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      It's not always a video, though most .DAT files are. Anay's answer below will explain more.

      • Boni Oloff
        October 29, 2012 at 1:29 am

        OK, thanks for the reply. In my experience it only from CD/DVD.. :D

  8. Ahmed Khalil
    October 23, 2012 at 11:02 pm
  9. Paul Pruitt
    October 23, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    illegal3alien is right but a more easy to deal with way to open raw files is using NotePad++ rather than NotePad:

    After you install it, find the file in your Explorer or My Computer and Right Click on it. One of the choices near the top of the list will be "Edit with NotePad++". Choose that choice.

    After that, look at the first few characters of the file to see the file's "Magic Numbers" or file signature characters. Compare them to a site that suggests what kind of file it really is, like: or

    An even easier way to tell what kind of file the DAT file really is, and therefore what kind of program you can try to open it with, is to use a file identifier. Marco Pontello's online version of his TrID file identifier is the easiest to use:

    • Saurabh Banwaskar
      October 24, 2012 at 11:18 am

      thanx It will be useful for me

      • Lisa Santika Onggrid
        October 25, 2012 at 12:28 pm

        Tell us if you find it resolved. So far Paul here has given the best way to 'sniff' the actual file type.

  10. Anonymous
    October 23, 2012 at 11:36 am

    try using vlc, media>open file>{locate file}

  11. Dimal Chandrasiri
    October 23, 2012 at 11:24 am

    what you are trying is to access a database without going through the confirmation process. I think you won't be able to access a locked database!

  12. Harish Jonnalagadda
    October 23, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Try Windows Media, as this usually works. Otherwise, just get Flash and load the file in it and check.

  13. ha14
    October 23, 2012 at 7:44 am

    Your .DAT file could be anything like a video file or a document, the best way to determine would be to add different extension in place of .DAT extension and see if it works.

    try to open in PDF?

    How to Read and Open .DAT Files in Windows

    If you have a file named Winmail.dat,

    .dat to .mpg use vcdgear

    For viewing and editing the raw binary data contents of the DLL file, use Hex Editor.
    .dll Extension - List of programs that can open .dll files

    • Saurabh Banwaskar
      October 24, 2012 at 11:18 am

      thanx I will try it

      • Lisa Santika Onggrid
        October 25, 2012 at 12:26 pm

        Yeah. .DAT files are kinda unique. Since you said it was in educational package it might be videos, but since you've tried VLC it might be not. I've opened some .DAT successfully with VLC and WMP before. Use WinRAR or other archiver to check if it's a compressed folder. Or it might be a flash animation.

  14. Dino Pearsons
    October 23, 2012 at 12:44 am

    Some of those apps use custom extensions for files which are actually zip files. Have you tried opening the file with something like WinRAR and extracting it?

  15. illegal3alien
    October 23, 2012 at 12:03 am

    Open it with a notepad program and see if the first few bytes indicate a file type.

  16. Yang Yang Li
    October 22, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Have you tried using Excel? Excel is very good about opening databases.

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