• What You Need To Know About DEX Files

What You Need To Know About DEX Files

With all the apps out there today, it’s not surprising that there seems to be an ever-increasing number of file formats and therefore file extensions. Unfortunately, however, not all types of files “work” in all applications. If you’re so unlucky as to get a text or email containing a DEX file, but you’re not working in an Android app, the result can be extreme frustration on your part. How do you open the darn thing so you can see/read it?

First things first. To start at the very beginning, what is a dex file? Simply put, it’s an Android application file. More precisely, it’s a file in Dalvik Executable Format, hence the .DEX or .dex file extension. Developers create the code for dex files and then compile the code. The result is an executable file that locates and initializes one of your programs and then runs the program so you can see/read the rest of the information the dex file contains.

Four Types of Dex Files

Dex files actually come in the following four types:

  1. Dalvik Executable Files (developed by Google)
  2. Excel Spreadsheets (developed by Microsoft)
  3. Disketch Project Files (developed by NCH Software)
  4. DEXIS Digital X-ray Files (developed by DEXIS)

Dalvik executable files are compiled specifically to run on an Android operating system, Google’s Linux-based cell phone platform. If you’re on a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer, you’ll need the Google Android SDK package in order to open your dex files.

Virtually everyone knows what an Excel spreadsheet is. Fortunately, Microsoft Excel 2019 opens dex files on both Windows and Mac computers.

Disketch project files can contain text and/or images. While the code in these files is intended to be run on a CD or DVD, you also usually can print these files to your standard printer or one that supports disc labels. You’ll need the NCH Disketch program in order to open and run these files, however, if you’re in a Windows environment.

DEXIS digital x-ray files are exactly what their names imply: digital x-ray files used mainly for dental imaging. This is a proprietary x-ray format used only by dental professionals using the DEXIS Digital X-ray system.

Opening a Dex File

Assuming you have the Android SDK (software development kit) installed on your computer or cell phone, opening a dex file is an easy two-step process. First, right-click on the dex file itself. When the “Open With” option appears, click on Google Android SDK. If that option fails to appear for whatever reason, click on the Browse button and navigate to the SDK’s EXE file and click on it. Voila! Your dex file opens.

Another option is to open your dex file in a text editor such as Notepad or WordPad. Again, you’ll need to have the Android SDK installed in order to do this. Simply click on Notepad or your text editor of choice after right-clicking on the dex file and choosing the “Open With” option.

Making a Dex File Yourself

Theoretically, you can make your own dex files in a text editor. Nevertheless, you probably don’t want to try this unless you have a solid understanding of both programming and Java source codes, particularly .class files.

Keep in mind that due to the decidedly limited amount of processing power, memory, and battery life of Android mobile devices, you’ll need to perform an extra dexing step. Instead of simply creating your .class files and letting them run in a traditional Java Virtual Machine (JVM), you’ll need to convert them into Android Runtime (ART) files so they will run more efficiently on Android devices.

Bottom line, dex files are extremely handy, especially for viewing images and videos. Obviously they’re easier to deal with when you’re operating in an Android environment, but in most circumstances, Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems can handle them quite easily.

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