Use OpenWithAdd and Other Methods to Run a File with the Program you Want


Sometimes users have difficulties associating files with a program to run them. Even if you know the program you want to use to run a file, and you know where the program is on your computer; still windows might not add it to the "Open With" search box.

To remedy this problem, you must register the program so windows can add it to its list of programs by using OpenWithAdd or OpenWithView. This may not be a common problem, but I will add it to the site in case anyone comes searching for these solutions.


Introduction: Finding the Right Program to Run a File

When you double click on a new file, it usually opens with ease to its default program. For example, if you click on your latest school paper document, it usually opens with OpenOffice Writer, Abiword, Jarte, MS Word, or whatever program you happen to use.

It does this because those programs automatically register themselves and associate themselves with their files during registration.

But if you use portable applications often, sometimes these automatic associations will not get created and you will have to associate files with their program. Windows makes this relatively easy. As you click on new files, it prompts you with a message telling you "windows cannot open this file" and some other details why it cannot. Then it gives you two options: go online to search for the correct program or select a program from a list of installed programs.

The online search is very fast and very biased. You will find that a few expensive windows programs like MS Office will help you open that file! And it gives you a few alternatives and a "search the web" link. Nirisoft gives a similar service, but with a few more options!

If you use the other option windows gives you an "Open With" program to help you search your computer for the right program.

Under normal conditions, you can easily search your computer and find the program you want. And you can associate that program to always open that file. Here is a detailed guide for this situation made for Vista (but it will be very close to Windows 7 too).

So if you want to open a DOCX file -- your latest school paper or random thoughts -- then you "browse" through your folders for OpenOffice Writer or whatever program you want to use and you click to add it to the "Open With" box. It adds the program to the box, and then you can select it and decide whether to "always use the selected program" to open DOCX files in the future.

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  • You can also use OpenWithView to clean up the "Open With" box if it has too many programs in it. A more complicated method is described by CyberNotes.
  • In looking around for information on the web, I found an interesting "Open With" addon for Firefox. It allows you to open a web page in a different browser to test it out. Works with "Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, Opera (or anything else for that matter)."


Windows Refuses to Add Your Favorite Program to its "Open With" Search Box

Most of the time windows adds the program you want to its "Open With" list of programs and then you can simply associate the file you want to open with the program you want to use.

But it doesn't always work as planned. Sometimes it does nothing! It doesn't add the program you want to use. You look at the "Open With" box and you do not get a choice of using OpenOffice Writer.

Instead have to think about using Firefox/Internet Explorer to get a better "Open With" search box, and then open the file with Writer! (Or you have to open Writer first, and use it to browse for the file.)

There's a couple easier methods, though.

Method I. XP and Vista: Simply use OpenWithAdd to register the program you want to add to the "Open With" box. And then go back through the procedure to add the program and associate it to the file type. Here is a guide for this (see method 2).

Method II. XP, 2003, Vista, Windows 7: The problem may be caused by moving portable apps around on your PC. So you could use OpenWithView to disable old entries to the program you want to use, and then windows will allow you to add the program to the "Open With" box.

Method III. Some programs can automatically associate to many file types in its options. 7-Zip, for example, can easily solve this problem itself in Tools > Options. So you might want to search around in the program options, settings, or preferences to see if it allows for file associations itself.

But, unfortunately, OpenWithView won't let you simply edit the old entry and point it to the new location. You could possibly use FileTypesMan to edit the path to the program location if it finds the old program extension registration, but it won't let you change associations.

Otherwise, you have to go into the registry to do this. For example, click the Start menu, click "Run..." and enter "regedit". Then you could use the Edit > "Find" feature to search for your program and edit its file location. If the registry scares you, then stick with the methods above. The extra registry entries won't hurt anything.


Rizar, 2010


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