How To Open Files in the Program you Choose - Edit Windows File Associations

Sometimes installing new software in Windows can overwrite the file associations for other software. Graphics programs are notorious for this bad behavior. Fortunately, when it happens, you can follow these steps to change the default file association so that double-clicking a file will open the program you choose instead of the last program you installed.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 1 minute

Here's How:

  1. In Windows Explorer, navigate to a file of the type you want to associate (GIF, JPEG, etc.).
  2. Click on its icon once to select it.
  3. While holding the shift key down, right click on the icon. (Note: Holding the Shift key down is not necessary in Windows 2000 and Windows XP.)
  4. In the pop-up menu, choose Open With... A box will open asking you to choose a program to open that file type. If you have a lot of software installed it could take a few moments for this box to appear.
  5. Pick a program from the list.
  6. If the program you need isn't in the list, choose [other] to navigate to another EXE file on your hard drive.
  7. If you always want that program to open these types of files, put a checkmark in the box that says: Always use this program to open files of this type.


  1. Make sure the program to which you associate a file type is capable of opening that type of file. Images must be opened in an image editor or viewer, text documents must be opened in a text editor or word processor, and so on.
  1. You can also change file associations in Windows Explorer by going to View > Folder Options > File Types.