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  PC-Net's PC News - February, 2000
Don Watkins

How Do I Open That File Again?
Or, the Right of Free Association

By Don Watkins



February 2000--There's an ongoing battle for my file associations. Every time I install a new application, it seems it wants to take over the task of the being the program to load when I double click a certain type of file. That's all well and good, but I don't seem to have a say in the matter. And to make things worse, if I remove the application, Windows tells me that it can't find the program need to open that type of file.

Messing with extensions
What are extensions? They're the suffix of a file, usually three characters after the period that follows the file name. Many times Windows won't show you the extension and you need to right click on the file, select Properties and check the MS-DOS name to find it. That extension is how Windows determines what kind of file it is.

For instance, a GIF, JPG and BMP extension indicate graphics formats. There are many programs that can open those files. But just when things are set the way you like them, someone comes along and changes the program associated with a particular file type.

Choosing your associations
When something comes along and changes your associations, you do have a built-in resource for changing them back. Here's the drill:

Find a file of the type (GIF, JPG, and so on) that you want to change or create a new association for.

Highlight it with a single left click.

Hold down the shift key, right click and select "Open with ".

From the "Program choose" list, select the program you want to associate with that file type.

Make sure the box next to "Always use this program to open this type of file" is checked.

Click OK. You've now created a new association that'll stick around--or, at least, until another program comes along and changes it.

What to use with what
I often get strange attachments in email and don't have a clue how to open them. I'll try Notepad and then Internet Explorer, but beyond that I could throw stuff on the wall forever and never get anything to stick. So I reply to the sender and ask them what they use. There are only so many hours in the day and the chances of hitting on the right application are slim.

Don't give up on the association battle. Some day we'll have software that will ask us if we want associations changed but until then you can fight back by enjoy the freedom of association!

If you're losing the battle and/or run into programs that change too many associates to keep up with there's a great utility that'll help you with your battle. Check out Associate This, it's a nice utility that will help you keep things working the way you want them to, even if other software doesn't have manners.

Until next month, best in computing.


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