What Is a TMP File?

Daniel Wabuge
Daniel Wabuge

Updated · Jan 26, 2023


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Let me guess.

You're here because you see .tmp icons on your computer, right?

If so, you're probably wondering what they are and what you are supposed to do with them.

That's why we're here to guide you through everything about TMP files.

Let's get started!

What Is a TMP File?

These are temporary backups that programs create when they need to store data.

That happens if they can't allocate enough memory on your device to work efficiently.

Creating TMP files allows apps to run tasks faster without clogging the RAM, and your device doesn't slow down as a result.

In most cases, once the software is done using the TMP files, it deletes them automatically to create room for more functions. 

On occasion, however, apps might fail to do so, requiring you to remove them manually.

Examples of temporary files include unsaved office documents, browser cache, image thumbnails, etc.

What Is the Purpose of TMP Files?

A TMP file type stores information about the tasks your software is running.

That ensures the data is easily accessible without prompting unnecessary queries leading to improved performance of your device.

Another advantage is the ability to recover your work whenever a program crashes. You can resume where you've left off since the data is readily available on your storage.

Likewise, it enables switching between project versions using redo/undo functions.

Temporary backups also allow programs to exchange info when handling related processes.

For example, two apps working on the same task may need to share resources. They can use the same TMPs rather than create duplicates, taking up unnecessary space.

How To Open TMP a File?

There's usually no reason for opening a temporary file, as it's not in a human-readable format

But in some cases, like your computer crashing, it might be necessary. You will, however, need to do so using the program that created it.

Here's how to locate the TMP file directory:

On Windows:

  • Open the Run dialogue box (or use the shortcut Windows + R keys)
  • Type %temp%
  • Press enter on your keyboard to open the folder containing the files 

For Mac users:

  • Go to Finder
  • Select Go
  • Scroll down and click on Utilities (or use the shortcut Shift-Command-U)
  • Find and open the temporary folder

Then, pinpoint the TMP file extensions you need and drag them into your preferred program to open it.

You'll receive an error message or blank screen if that doesn't work.

In such cases, you can use a text editor to view the data. But do take note that most of the content may be unreadable.

Some programs you can use for this job include:

  • Notepad
  • Notepad++
  • Microsoft Wordpad

How To Get Rid of TMP Files?

While TMP files are helpful, they can take up a lot of storage space

If the programs don't delete the files after completing their tasks, you'll need to intervene.

The good news is the process is pretty straightforward. Simply open the temporary directory as explained earlier and delete its contents. 

Another option is to use disk cleaning software to do the job.

Sometimes, it would be impossible to open a TMP file or delete it as it might still be in use. Therefore, you need to wait until the software has completed processing to do so.

But, a word of caution — while most TMP files are perfectly safe to remove, in certain cases that can result in lost data.

So, how do you identify the ones to get rid of?

As a rule of thumb, ensure you're ready with all pending tasks and projects. That should prevent you from losing any unprocessed information.

TMP file extensions that are a few weeks or months old are also safe to delete. All you have to do is filter the temp folder's contents using the modified date.

Another alternative is downloading a disk cleanup tool to find temp data scattered away from the temporary folder. These are usually unwanted junk leftovers by programs you won't miss.

Whichever method you choose, removing TMP files frees up storage space. That can be handy, especially if you have a device with limited storage.

Wrap Up

So, what is a TMP file again?

It's simply cached data that programs on your device create to run tasks faster.

These files improve performance by temporarily storing backups for quick access. While they're harmless, they can take up a lot of space if they're not automatically or manually removed.

Overall, TMP files are nothing to be afraid of. They're just a part of your device's way of working efficiently.


Is it okay to delete temp files?

Yes, it is. A TMP file contains temporary data that you can safely delete from your phone or computer. The failure to do so might result in a build-up of unwanted junk, causing your device to lag. 

However, always make sure you've completed all your work and exited a program. That way, you won't risk losing any essential unprocessed information.

How to open a TMP file in Word?

The process is quite simple; just follow the steps outlined below:

  • Open Microsoft Word
  • Click on the File tab located in the top-left corner of your screen
  • Select Open
  • Choose Folders/Browse on the left side of the window
  • Search for the temporary files directory and expand its contents
  • Double-click on the TMP file you want to open

What causes TMP files to be created?

Computer software create TMP files to temporarily save data on your hard drive. They're generated whenever a program is unable to allocate enough memory for its processes.

These files also allow apps to exchange and share data whenever running related tasks. This process of storing data ensures your device is running fast and smoothly.

Is a TMP file a virus?

You should begin by asking yourself, what is a TMP file

The answer is simple — it's a temporary backup that programs generate to help with speeding tasks.

So, it's not a virus unless malicious software on your computer created it. 

If unsure, you can always scan the file using your preferred antivirus program.


Daniel Wabuge

Daniel Wabuge

Daniel is a curious thinker that loves everything about tech. If he spots something interesting, rest assured that he’ll reverse-engineer it. Apart from being an internet addict, he loves building web servers from scratch. Well, it’s not his profession per se. But it’s a passion he picked up after a series of unfortunate events involving terrible hosts. He’s the “hosting guy”.

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