Sometimes you’ll run into the situation where you double-click a file, but instead of the correct associated application opening the file, you’ll get a small dialog box from Windows asking you what application you want to open this file with. When this happens, either you were trying to open a file that requires software not installed on your PC yet, or the software did not register its file types correctly during installation. A quick way to recognize whether a file type is registered or not is by looking at the icon next to the file name in Explorer. Is it a colorful custom icon with some sort of symbol – it means the file type is registered, or is it a white piece of paper with the generic Windows logo in the middle? It means the file type is not registered.
If you are confident that you do own the software required to use this type of file, you should first try reinstalling the software. Chances are that it will register the file types correctly this time and everything will work.
If that does not help and you get the Open with … dialog box again, scroll through the list of programs, find the correct application, check the box Always use this program to open these files. This should make the correct association and remember it for the future. The only caveat here is that you might not get any custom actions that would have been normally configured during the installation.
If you do not have the software installed, but you have another application that you want to use to open this file type, choose that application in the Open with … dialog box to establish that association.
If you want to open a file with an application other than the default one, click once on the desired file, then hold down the Shift key and right-click on the file. In the resulting menu, you’ll see now the option Open with … that you can select to temporarily use another application to open this file type. But be careful that you don’t check the box Always use this program to open these files, otherwise it will use this other application from now on as the default.
Open or save it?
When you open an attachment in Outlook Express or download a file from the Internet with Internet Explorer, you get by default a dialog box asking you whether you wish to open this file or save it to disk. In this dialog box is also a check box to Always ask before opening this type of file. If you accidentally unchecked this box, you won’t get this dialog anymore and are stuck with whatever action you chose the last time. But you can easily fix this and get the dialog back. Open Windows Explorer, go to View/(Folder) Options, and select the File Types tab. Find the file type that you have the problem with and double-click it. In the resulting dialog box, put the check mark back in the box to Confirm open after download.