The Unix Executable Files (UEFs) in my Documents Folder appear in List, Icon and Info form as black squares with ‘exec’ in green in the top left-hand corner. They are without extensions and in List and Info views under Kind are described as ‘Unix Executable File’.
Opening one of these files by double-clicking or command+O produces a Terminal document showing date, identifying and locating information for the document in the first paragraph and in the second text such as this:
‘zsh: exec format error: /Users/davidgirling/Documents/ DAG Archives/ Archives by subject/Biography/Biography, personal/DAG personal/DAG employment/Freelance work-misc/Job applications/Fulltime appns/Enskilda 950204
…copying shared history…
…saving history…truncating history files…
The files have names of one or two words followed by a date in the form yyyymmdd which indicate that they are emails that I sent or received using a UK email provider Direct Connection in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I can only assume that they became corrupted in the process of transferring data from a Power G3 to a Mac mini at this time.
Using TextEdit or LibreOffice, I can open these UEFs in a form which, despite irregular spacing, is readable. I would like to be able to search and find these files (several thousand), but cannot think how I can do this in the absence of an extension.
I want to find these Unix Executable Files, decide which I want to keep and convert them into a readable form which I can then convert to pdfs.
OK. So it simply sees these as "Unix Executable Files" because there is no file extension and nothing else about these old files gives macOS a clue as to what they are. But they are simply text files it sounds like.
So just add .txt to the end of their file names.
You can do this in bulk. Select some or all of the files, then in the Finder choose File, Rename. Set the "Rename Finder Items" to "Add Text" and then ".txt" as the text to add, and then "after name." It will ask for confirmation to make sure you know you are adding an extension.
After these are all named with .txt then you should be able to double-click them to open in TextEdit. You can probably leave them this way instead of converting to PDF files as text files will be smaller and easier to deal with.
Now if you want to search for all files with no file extension, you can do it but it is tricky. You have to start a Finder search in the folder that is above these, like your Documents folder if they are all in there. And then to the right of where it shows "Kind is Any" Option+click the + button (will change to ...) and set the next like to "NONE of the following are true" and then the next like to Kind is Folder. Then use the + button to the right of that and the next like to Filename contains . (a period mark). It has to be "Filename" not "Name" so you'll need to use Other... in the dropdown and find Filename. Then get rid of the first like (Kind is Any). So now you have a search that is:
NONE of the following are true
KIND is FOLDER
FILENAME CONTAINS .
So, logically, this give you all files that have no extension. I wouldn't assume that everything is your email files though. Look through them carefully. Make sure you are only selecting files you know aren't being used by something else before you change them to add .txt extensions.
Many thanks, Gary. Adding .txt. at the end of the file name works a treat. And you're right, I am finding that many of these files are not just old emails but other text files that I am glad to have rediscovered.