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HOWTO: Set The Default Program To Open Certain File Types in Windows (EG: jpg, gif, etc)

Cannot Open This File Windows Dialog Box

Description

It can be quite annoying when you double click a file and it opens a program you don’t want or expect.  This HOWTO article describes the simple process of setting the default program that opens any file type.  You’ll mostly want to open pictures such as jpg, gif, etc with a certain program but you can apply this solution to almost any file type.

Symptoms

  • When you double click a particular file or type of file in Windows Explorer or from your desktop the wrong program opens the file.
  • You are presented with a dialog saying ‘Windows cannot open this file’ when you double click a file.

Explanation

In Windows, most files have an extension which is usually 3 characters long. For example, some common picture files are usually .jpg, .gif, .tif and .png. Files with these extensions will behave in one of two ways when double clicked –

  1. Launch a program associated with the file extention OR
  2. Windows will prompt you to select a program to open the file with if it is not associated with any program

The solutions below will discuss both situations and how to select or change the desired program that launches your file.

Solutions Below….

Solutions

Solution 1 – Change Registered File Type

Windows XP – Instructions:

  1. Open Windows Explorer by right clicking the Start button and selecting Explore
  2. Click Tools > Folder Options
  3. Click File Types tab
  4. You should now be presented with a list of Registered file types. Scroll down this list of file types until you locate the type you would like to change.
  5. Highlight the file type and select the Change… button
  6. You are now presented with the Open With dialog. Either select a program from the list in the Programs pane or click Browse… and locate the program of your choice
  7. Once you have selected a program, place a check mark in the Always use the selected program to open this kind of file check box
  8. Click OK and OK again.
    1. Click Start > Control Panel > Default Programs
    2. You should now be presented with the Default Programs window. Click Associate a file type or protocol with a program
    3. You are now presented with the Set Associations dialog which will spend some time Loading… all the different file types. When it’s done, locate the extension of the file type you would like to change .
    4. Highlight the file type and select the Change program… button
    5. You are now presented with the Open With dialog. Select a program from the list or click Browse.. and locate an alternative program if Browse… button is available
    6. Click OK and OK again.


    Windows Vista – Instructions:

    1. Click Start > Control Panel > Default Programs
    2. You should now be presented with the Default Programs window. Click Associate a file type or protocol with a program
    3. You are now presented with the Set Associations dialog which will spend some time Loading… all the different file types. When it’s done, locate the extension of the file type you would like to change .
    4. Highlight the file type and select the Change program… button
    5. You are now presented with the Open With dialog. Select a program from the list or click Browse.. and locate an alternative program if Browse… button is available
    6. Click OK and OK again.

    Please Comment! Add your comments below if this solved your issue or if you found that your setup was different. Please let us know your versions and what exactly you were doing when you had this issue so that we can update this solution and help others with the same problem.

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