How to associate a file with a program in Windows

Below is additional information about how to change what programs are used to open files and how they open the files in Microsoft Windows. Any time a program changes a file association, follow the steps below to re-associate the file back to the program of your choice.

  1. Open My Computer or Explorer.
  2. Right-click on the file you want to change the file association with and click Properties.
  3. In the file Properties, click the Change button next to the "Opens with" option. After clicking Change, you'll be given a list of programs to open the file, select the program you want to use and then click OK or Apply. If the program you want to select is not listed, click the Browse button and find the program's executable (.exe) file on the computer and click OK to select that program.

File Properties

Note: If the program you choose is not compatible with the file type, you will see garbage or get an error when opening the file. If this is happening, try changing the file to open with a different program.

You can also change the file type associations by following the steps below.

Windows Vista, 7, 8
Windows 2000 and Windows XP users
Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows ME users

Windows Vista, 7, 8

  1. Open the Control Panel.
  2. Click the Default Programs icon.
  3. Click the Associate a file type or protocol with a program option.

Modify the actions of a file type

  • Locate the file extension you want to modify and highlight it.
  • Click the Change program button.
  • Select the program you want to associate and open the file extension and click OK.  If the program you want to select is not listed, click the Browse button and find the program's executable (.exe) file on the computer and click OK to select that program.

Windows 2000 and Windows XP users

  1. Open My Computer or Explorer.
  2. Click the Tools in the file menu and then click Folder Options.
  3. Click the File types tab.

Adding a new file type

  • Click The New button.
  • Type the name of the file extension.
  • Click Ok.

Modify the actions of a file type

  • Locate the file extension you want to modify and highlight it.
  • Click the Advanced button.
  • If you want to modify a previous action, highlight the action in the Actions list and edit it. Otherwise, click New and create a new action.

Removing a file type

  • Locate the file extension you want to remove and highlight it.
  • Click the Delete button.

Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows ME users

  1. Open My Computer or Explorer.
  2. Click the View in the file menu and Folder Options.
  3. Click the File types tab.

Adding a new file type

  • Click the New type button.
  • Type the Associated extension as well as the description and the actions of the file.

Modifying the actions of a file type

  • Locate the file extension you want to modify and highlight it.
  • Click the Edit button.
  • If you want to modify a previous action, highlight the action in the Actions list and edit it. Otherwise, click New and create a new action.

Removing a file type

  • Locate the file extension you want to remove and highlight it.
  • Click the Remove button.

Additional information