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Definition: long file names

File names in Windows that are up to 255 characters in length. Long file names include spaces and special characters except for slashes, colons, asterisks, open/close brackets, exclamation points and pipe symbol (/ \ : * < > ! |).

Long file names superseded the eight-plus-three (8.3) character limitation used in 16-bit DOS and Windows 3.1. Long file names are supported in Unix, Mac and Windows starting with Windows 95.

For compatibility with earlier 16-bit applications that can only deal with short names, Windows creates 8.3 names out of long ones. The long name is converted to eight or fewer characters by truncating the name and adding a number separated by a tilde (~). Names with the same first letters are differentiated by incrementing the number as in the following examples. See name mangling.

 Long file name          Short file name

 manuscriptA.doc         manusc~1.doc
 manuscriptB.doc         manusc~2.doc
 manuscript C.doc        manusc~3.doc
 manuscripts D & E.doc   manusc~4.doc

 Long folder name        Short folder name

 Program Files           progra~1