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Open Any File in Any Program, In Just Two Clicks

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011 by | Filed Under: Shortcuts & Keyboard Tricks, Windows Explorer

If 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 “open with . . .” option to your right click context menu. As requested, here now is that method:

Note: This tip is for advanced users only.

Step 1. Click the Windows “Start” button. The Start menu will open.

Step 2. In the Start menu, find and click the “Run” button. The small “Run” dialog box will appear.

Step 3. Type “regedit” (without quotes) in the “Open:” text field, and click “OK.” The “Registry Editor” will appear.

!!VERY IMPORTANT!! Backup your Registry !!VERY IMPORTANT!!
Before going any further, it is highly advised that you backup your registry to at least two separate locations. Failing to do so could lead to data loss and an inoperable system in the event that you mistakenly change something that should not be changed. For this reason it is highly advised that you backup your registry to both your C: drive and an external source (e.g. a flash drive, external hard drive, or optical disc) by performing the following Steps, prior to continuing.

Step 4. In the registry editor, click “File,” and select “Export” from the menu which appears. The “Export Registry File” dialog box will appear.

Step 4-1. Within the “Export Registry File” dialog box, navigate to your “C:” drive by clicking on the “Computer” icon followed by your “C:” drive icon to access your C: drive root directory.

Step 4-2. Once your “C:” drive directory listing appears, enter in a file name for your registry backup file in the “File name:” text field, ensure the “Export range” is set to “All, “and click the “Save” button. Your registry backup file will be saved to the root directory of your “C:” drive; allowing for easy access in the event of a system registry failure.

Step 4-3. With the “Registry Editor” still open, click your Windows “Start” button to open your “Start” menu once again, then click the “Computer” button. A list of available drives will appear.

Step 4-4. Double click your “C:” drive from the list which appears, and copy (CRTL+C or right click > “Copy”) the registry backup file which you created in Step 4-2.

Step 4-5. Open your flash drive or other external storage device, and paste (CTRL+V or right click > “Paste”) your registry backup file into a safe folder on your drive/device.

Note: You may want to open your CD/DVD burning software and save your registry backup file to disk in addition to, or instead of, your external drive(s) as well.

Step 5. Now that you have backed up your registry file, return to the “Registry Editor” window and double click to open the following registry entries as they appear: “Computer” > “HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT” > “*” > “shell.”

Step 6. Right click the “shell” registry entry, and select “New” then “Key” from the context menu which appears. A new registry entry with the name “New Key #1″ will appear.

Step 7. Delete the “New Key #1″ text and replace it with the text which would like to associate with your new “open with . . .” option (i.e. If the new option will open items within Firefox when clicked, you may want to name it “Open in Firefox.”)

Step 8. Right click your new “open with . . .” registry entry, and select “New” then “Key” once again, this time naming the entry “command” (without quotes.)

Step 9. In the registry entry settings window to the right of your registry entries, double click the value/option marked “(Default).” A dialog box marked “Edit String” will appear.

Step 10. Find your programs’ Start Menu/Desktop shortcut, and right click it.

Step 11. Select “Properties” from the right click context menu which appears. The Program Properties dialog box will appear, displaying the “Shortcut” tab.

Step 12. Copy the program path text string within and including the first set of quotes in the “Target:” text box. The string should look similar to this: “C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe”

Step 13. Press the “Cancel” button to close the Program Properties dialog box, and then return to the “Registry Editor” “Edit String” dialog box.

Step 14. Paste the program path text string into the “Value data:” text field within the “Edit String” dialog box.

Step 15. At the end of your program path, after the ending quotation (“) mark, type: “%1″ (including the quotation marks)

Step 16. Click “Ok” to close the “Edit String” dialog box.

Step 17. Close the “Registry Editor” and any other associated windows.

Step 18. Find a file which you would like to open with your new “open with . . .” command, and right click. In the right click context menu you will see a new option labeled with the name you assigned “New Key #1″ in Step 7. Select this option to open your file in the program you defined in the above Steps.

You will now be able to attempt to open any file in your chosen program with just two clicks. While this new “open with . . .” option is available for virtually any file on your system, the standard rules for opening files still apply; which means not every file will open with your new “open with . . .” command (i.e. opening a Photoshop file in Firefox will probably not result in your file opening successfully.)

That said, you can repeat the above steps to add more “open with . . .” options to your right click menu as much as you like: just be sure to always backup your registry first!

~J. Conboy

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