File Associations

This Article Applies to Windows 7, 8 and 10

All files on your computer have an Associated Program that will Open or Display that file. If there is no Associated Program, you will not be able to open or run that file. A good example of this is when someone sends you an Email Attachment that you can't open. This is because you don't have the program on your computer that created the Attachment.

All files on your computer are identified by their file type.  The file type is normally a three letter designator following the file name.  Example.   Eiffel Tower.JPG

JPG is the file type (called an Extension) and tells the computer which program to use to open this file.


When you open File Manager (Windows Explorer) to look at your files,  you will not see the file extension, unless you have elected to do so.


Looking at the above example, you can not see the file extension.



 To view the extension you need to change the View settings in Folder Options; Un-Tic "Hide Extensions for known file types". You can find Folder Options in Control Panel.



Now you will be able to see the Extension as shown in the example below



If you have opted to view File Extensions, be careful when you rename the file. You CAN NOT change the file extension.


When you install a program such as Picasa, it will change the file Association of all your picture files, so that when you click on a JPG, Picasa will open that file.  If you don't want that to happen you can manually change the File Association.

To change a file association, Right Click on the File and select OPEN WITH from the pop up menu. From the Sub-Menu select "Choose Default Program".  From the Open With Window, just select the program you want and if you want to make the change permanent, just tic the box "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file.




If you want to see what your current File Associations are without making any changes then go to Control Panel and open Default Programs. Then Select "Associate a File Type or Protocol with a Program".  This will open a list as shown below, where you can see all the files types and the programs associated with them.




The above procedure works with  Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. If you are still using Windows XP then follow these steps:


1. Click Start and then click Control Panel.  For Windows 10 Right Click on Start > Control Panel


2. Click Folder Options or File Explorer Options for Windows 10


3. Click File Types tab in Folder Options windows and the file types and their association will be listed.


4. Under "Registered file type", scroll down the list to see all the file types and their Associated program.


5. If you want to change the association for a file type then select the type and click on Change and select the program from the list.

If your program is not listed when you click on Change or Browse and you know the program is installed on the computer, then you have to find the Executable file (.EXE) for that program. You have to go searching and it can be difficult to find.  Normally the EXE file will be located in C:\Program Files folder. Example: to find the EXE file for Adobe Reader - Open MY Computer and select the C: drive. Next select Program Files. In the Program Files Folder locate the Adobe Folder. This is where it gets hard and you will have to look through all the sub folders. In the case of my version of Adobe Reader, the EXE file was located in the Program Files \ Adobe \ Reader 10.0 \ Reader Sub folder.  The Name of the file is ACRORD32.EXE.


Another way to help you locate the actual EXE file is if you have a short cut to the program on your desk top. Right Click on the Short Cut and select Properties from the pop up menu.  In the program Properties window look at the TARGET box and you will see the path and the name of the EXE File.




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