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Windows 7 - How to Restore Default File Associations

When you install new programs, they often automatically change your file associations by default. For example, on a clean Windows 7 installation, most audio and video files will open with Windows Media Player by default. When you install a new media player, however, you will often find that the files open in that one instead. For the most part, this is quite convenient. If, however, you find yourself in a situation where lots of your files are opening in programs you don't want to use, it can be time-consuming and complicated to manually restore each file extension. The following guide will walk you through each of the possible options for restoring file associations.

1 – Changing the File Association for One File Type at a Time
If you want to open a specific file type in your favourite suitable program, the process is very simple. If you want to restore file associations for large numbers of files automatically, however, then you may want to skip to the next section.
Navigate to the location of the file that you want to open. Right-click on the file and choose "Open with" from the menu that pops up. Click "Choose default program." A list of available programs will appear. Usually, the program that you want to open the file with will appear in the list of recommended programs. If it does not, click the small arrow to the right of "Other Programs" to display more programs installed on your computer. Many of these programs will not be appropriate for opening your file, however. If you cannot find the program in this list, click "Browse" and navigate to the location of the program.
Check the box beside "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file." This will ensure that the file association will be permanently changed unless you repeat the above steps. Click "OK" when done. Now, when you double-click on the file, it will open with your chosen program.

2 – Restoring Default File Associations Using a Registry File
File association information is stored in the system registry. You can also find more information on the different file extensions and default programs by going to the "Default Programs" subsection of the "Programs" section in the Control Panel. However, manually restoring large numbers of file extensions is not really practical.
On the Internet, you'll be able to find many sites where you can download a registry file which automatically restores default file extensions for most popular file types. These .REG files basically merge data into the registry. Because of the nature of these files, you should always take care to download them from a trustworthy source. It's also vigilant to create a system restore point or backup your registry first.
When you've downloaded the file, double-click on it and click "Merge." The data will be merged into the registry and the changes should take effect immediately.


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