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Controlling “Open with” in the Context Menu

Bob from Iowa asks:

I Have Windows 7 and would like to be able to bring up the option “Open with” at any time. Right-clicking doesn’t always work. I would like to be able to choose what program I use to open something up.

Windows operating systems generally ask you with which program you would like to open a particular file, unless the file is already saved as a specific Windows document such as Word. However, if you happened to click the box that designates a specific program as the default program, then you will no longer be asked to choose with which program to open files of that type. This isn’t to say that you can never choose, merely that you won’t be asked anymore since the computer will automatically choose the default program and bypass the need to ask your input.

Right clicking on a file should still bring up the option to open the file with a different program. If you need to change the default program in Windows 7, then proceed through the following steps:

Step 1 – Right-click on the file you wish to open

Step 2 – Click on Open with within the new box that opens up


Step 3 – Move the mouse to the right to display a new box with choices of programs for opening the selected file


Step 4 – Click on the preferred program with which to open the file, or select one to make it the new default program


If you right-click on the file you wish to open and are not given an ‘Open with’ option, then this most likely means that there isn’t a program associated with the file. The computer isn’t recognizing the type of file and doesn’t know what to suggest. When this occurs, right click on your file and then click on Open. Then, select a program from the list of programs already installed on your computer. After choosing the program with which to open the file, hit OK. You may choose to make a particular program the default for the specific type of file you are trying to open, but it’s best to make sure the file can be accessed through the program you have chosen before setting it as the default.

There is a box at the bottom of the Open with screen that sometimes automatically checks itself. Next to this check-box are the words Always use the selected program to open this kind of file. Be sure to uncheck this box before clicking the OK button, just in case the program isn’t successful in opening the file. You can always come back to this screen and create a default program for this particular file at a later time.

Any new program you choose to open a file with will then be listed among the others under the ‘Open with’ heading. For instance, if you right-click on a file and then click on ‘Open with’, you may only see one or two programs from which to choose. If you then go down to ‘Choose Program’ it will direct you to a list of additional programs to pick from. After you’ve decided on which program you want to open the file and click on this particular program, then it will show up as a choice in the ‘Open with’ box each time you go to it after right-clicking on a file of the same type.

It is easy to accidentally choose the wrong program to open a file when searching through the list of ‘Other Programs’ in the ‘Open with’ box that appears. This can cause a number of unwanted programs to be displayed in the list of programs that appear when you right-click on a file and hover the cursor over the words ‘Open with’. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy to shorten this list as it is to lengthen it. The process used to remove programs from this list is difficult and primarily used by those with advanced skills in computer administration.

However, an extremely helpful application can be downloaded from NirSoft.


This page gives an excellent description of OpenWithView 1.11 and its system requirements. Read the description carefully and make sure you wish to download this application before proceeding through the download process. Follow the screen prompts after clicking on the ‘Download OpenWithView’ link.

The app is designed to help people remove unwanted programs listed on the ‘Open with’ screen. When this list gets to be too long and cluttered, eliminating some of the programs in the list can be helpful. Don’t worry; this app doesn’t remove the program entirely from your computer. It will remove it from the ‘Open with’ box, but you can always choose it again later if need be.

Hopefully these steps will enable you to successfully choose which program you wish to use for opening up a particular file.

~H.A. Bryan