How to Modify ‘Open With’ List for a File in Windows

In Windows, almost all the file types are associated with one or other program. If you want to open a program with an alternative program, then you can right-click on a file and select a program from the Open with submenu. The list of programs in the Open with list are automatically added and ordered by Windows and third party programs. But if you want to, then you can change the order of the programs in this Open with list as well as add or remove programs from this list. Here is how :

  1. Type regedit in the Start Menu search box and press Enter to open Windows Registry Editor.

    Modify Open With List for a File in Windows

  2. In the Registry Editor, navigate to the following key :
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\.EXT\OpenWithList

    where .EXT is the file extension for which you want to modify the Open with list. For example for PDF files, the key would be.PDF, for JPG images it would be .JPG and so on.

    Modify Open With List for a File in Windows

    On the right hand side pane, you would see an alphabetically ordered list of programs. These programs appear in the Open With list for the file extension you picked.

  3. If you want to delete a program from appearing the Open With list, just delete that value from the right-side pane. For example, in the above picture, if I have to remove thunderbird.exe from appearing in the Open With list for PDF files, then I can delete the c value. To delete a value, just select it and press the Del key.
  4. If you want to add a new program in the Open With list, then create a new REG_SZ value in the right-side pane. To create a new REG_SZ value, right-click on the right-side pane and select New → String Value from the context menu. The name of the value should be the next available alphabetical letter. The value data should be the name of the program (e.g., notepad.exe).
  5. If you want to change the order of appearance of programs in the Open With list, then you have to change the order of alphabetical letters in the value MRUList corresponding to the list of programs.

    Modify Open With List for a File in Windows

    For example, if your change the value of MRUList to cab, then the program in value c would appear on top in the Open With list followed by that in a and b.

So this is how you can modify the Open With list for any file type. You will have to repeat this same process for all the file types you want to change. Since you are changing values in the Windows registry, it is recommended that you create a backup of registry in case something goes wrong. You can create backup of your registry easily using a tool like ERUNT.

One thought on “How to Modify ‘Open With’ List for a File in Windows

  1. There’s a way to change the path of the ,exe associated? In my case I have 2 version of Illustrator ( I need to keep them both), the.Ai file double click open with the wrong one version. THX

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