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Adding Open With to the Right Click Menu

Thursday, March 24th, 2011 by | Filed Under: File & Disk Management

I would like to know if it is possible to add an item to the ‘open with’ right click menu. It would be really helpful to add the program, A Smaller Image so that I can edit straight from My Pictures. Can you help please?

An indispensable tool in most versions of Windows, the Open with option allows you to, as the name suggests, open your files with virtually any program currently installed on your PC, by simply right clicking on the file, and selecting your program from the Open with list. For those of us whom work with multiple viewers and editors of specific file sets and types, Open with can be an extremely valuable time saver. For example, .jpg images which are set by default to open in Windows Photo Viewer when browsing through a folder can be opened in Photoshop via the Open with option for a quick re-sizing or color edit; much more efficiently than if you had to fumble about your desktop and All Programs menu to find the Photoshop shortcut, load the program, browse for your photo from within Photoshop, and finally, open it.

Occasionally however, Windows becomes confused about which programs it should offer you by default when using the Open with option. When this happens, you are forced to browse your entire computer for the program which you wish to open your file with, a process which can take up even more time than if you were to just open the desired program normally and then open your file from there. If you are finding your Open with program selections less than desirable, or if you just wish to add a program to your Open with choices, for Windows 7 and Windows Vista users in particular, there is a simple solution:

Step 1. Find the file which you would like associated with a particular program and right click it. From the context menu which appears, select Open with.

Step 2. In the Open with submenu which appears, click on Choose default program . . . The Open with dialog box will appear.

Step 3. Uncheck Always set the selected program to open this kind of file and click the Browse button. An explorer type Open with window will appear.

Step 4. Navigate to the directory where your desired program files reside, find the primary file which starts your program (usually ending in a .exe extension.) This will typically be found within the Program Files or Program files (x86) directories.

If you are completely stumped as to where your desired program files are, follow these secondary steps:

Step 4-1. Find the program shortcut which you normally use to turn on your program (usually located on your desktop or under the Start or Start>All Programs menu/submenus.)

Step 4-2. Once you have found your program shortcut, right click it and select Properties from the right click context menu. The program Properties dialog box will appear.

Step 4-3. Select and copy the text in the Target: field, then press the Cancel button at the bottom of the dialog box.

Step 4-4. Return to the Open with explorer window, and paste your copied text into the File name: field.

Step 4-5. Click the Open button.

Step 5. Your program will now be displayed in the Open with dialog box. Select it, and click the OK button. The Open with dialog box will close.

Step 6. Right click on any file with the same file type as the file which was just edited. In the context menu which appears, hover over the Open with menu selection and a submenu with your newly added program(s) will be displayed.

Step 7. Click on your newly added program in the list and enjoy the Open with menu once again!

For those comfortable with their Windows skills, there are more advanced techniques which allow you to add programs to the Open with list, remove extra, unused items from the list, or add the option to open any file directly from the right click menu, without having to sort through the Open with submenu items. However, these techniques are beyond the scope of this “simple techniques” article. If you wish to learn more about these techniques, let us know by submitting a request here.

~ J. Conboy


5 Responses to “Adding Open With to the Right Click Menu”

  1. Pat Miller says:

    Re Adding Open With to the Right Click Menu – can you do this in XP?

  2. Robert Wurzburg says:

    Yes you should be able to add this option in Context Menu Handlers using XP
    it does take a bit of work and modification of the registry to do this.

  3. […] File in Any Program, In Just Two ClicksIf you’ve taken a look at my previous article “Adding ‘Open With’ to the Right Click Menu,” you may recall mention of an additional, “advanced,” method of adding an […]

  4. Mark says:

    Cannot get this to work on Win 7, any ideas?

  5. Paul says:

    Really Great! others suggest to edit the registry, pointing at entries that do not exist in my system. This is SIMPLE and it works straight away. THANKS

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