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Windows: File Associations

Posted on 2003-03-26
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Last Modified: 2008-02-26
I currently use one program to edit multiple file types.
The program has set its associations correctly, but all the relevant files now have the same filetype description and the same icon.
I would like different file extensions to use different icons and have different filetype descriptions, yet still be associated with the same program.
(Also I would like Explorer to be able to properly sort files by type (ie by extension).)

I have tried manually changing the 'advanced' details via Tools > Folder Options > File Types but Windows insists on changing _all_ extensions that point to the same program.

(Not that it should be relevant... but: the files in question are graphics (e.g. *.gif and *.jpg) and the program is PaintShop Pro 7.  I remember that previous to installation gifs and jpegs had diff icons.)

Thanks in advance, Jez

PS it's Win XP
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Question by:Jazzle
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15 Comments
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:cempasha
ID: 8210646
"(Also I would like Explorer to be able to properly sort files by type (ie by extension).)"

when you right click on the folder and select
arrange icons -> by type

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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:Jazzle
ID: 8210700
""(Also I would like Explorer to be able to properly sort files by type (ie by extension).)"
when you right click on the folder and select
arrange icons -> by type"

that's the problem - explorer now sees all these files as the same type even though they have different extensions.
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Expert Comment

by:thanesherrington
ID: 8211072
On my computer (which also has PSP 7) all the files related to PSP have the PSP icon (that's the way Windows handles icons for data files - they are the same as the icon for the program to which they are associated.  When I right click and select Properties, I see Type: GIF Image or Type: JPEG image depending on the file, and they sort by type properly.  Try creating a GIF and a JPEG file and put them both in a new folder.  Then check and make sure the filetypes are wrong.

I don't think there is anything you can do about the icon unless you associate them with different programs.

T
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Expert Comment

by:Maxime
ID: 8211198
You could check this out:
Open up an Explorer Window
Click on the menu under Tools then Folder Options
Move to the File Type tab
Click on “file types” column to order it.
You should see a bunch of files having different extensions but been of the same type. Been PaintShop types files etc…
If you want to change the icon, select for example, GIF and then click on Advanced.
In that window, you have a Change Icon button. Just browse to your favourite icon.
Now, they are still of the same type, but you can assign different icons. They only way I know to have them been of different types would be to delete from the list and recreate it, and naming the type the way you want. That will make then order differently once in Explorer.
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Author Comment

by:Jazzle
ID: 8211274
Again, this is the problem - I thought that would do it but when I change any file assoc'd with this program (type descript or icon) all the others are changed as well.
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Expert Comment

by:Maxime
ID: 8211335
Then to fix it you will need to delete the ones you want to change and recreate it as I said in the previous post. You can test it by creating a file type .TEST and make it open with Notepad…  so you can be sure of how it works.


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LVL 11

Expert Comment

by:pratap_r
ID: 8213090
well you know if you need a raw control then use the registry.

the process is slightly complicated but sure works.. :)

do you really need it? i can post the entire solution for u..

Enjoy!
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Author Comment

by:Jazzle
ID: 8214026
could you post the entire sol?
i'll take that as answer... (assuming it works of course)
(I tried Maxime's suggestion but they weren't _entirely_ effective)
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:BillDL
ID: 8216346
Personally, I save and store my image files in separate folders eg. Animated_Gifs, Static_Gifs, JPGs_For_Upload, Bitmaps, etc.  It makes it a whole lot easier.

Like you, I prefer Paint Shop Pro to be associated with all the regular image file types except the .ps (postscript which it always insists must be an image file).  It also gives me comfort to see the Paint Shop Pro "7" icon against all of them so I know that other applications haven't associated themselves with them.

You have asked about the Registry and have been correctly advised that this is not something which you should start messing with unless you really need to.

If you use the Start Menu > Run  and type "Regedit" you will open the Windows Registry Editor.

BE AWARE THAT ALL CHANGES WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE SAVED ON EXIT, so DON'T CHANGE ANYTHING FOR NOW.  This is just to let you see what's involved so you know.

It's like Windows Explorer in that you have to click on the "+" between the Keys (folders) to open them up.

go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ and scroll down to ".gif"
You will see a sub-key "ShellExt" and a further sub-key which will resemble HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.gif\ShellEx\{BB2E617C-0920-11d1-9A0B-00C04FC2D6C1}

This unique number identifies the file type and you will see another value opposite with another number.  These are all unique and shouldn't be altered.

Back up to ".gif" and you will see the values opposite:
[Default] "PSP7.image"
Content Type "image/gif"

Do you recall seeing these in Folder Options > File Types?  Well, this is where they are identified.

Go to ".jpg" and, by no coincidence, the values are much the same.  Also, by no coincidence, you will notice that the unique numbers are the same.

Are you intrigued enough to go on with this in the realisation that by entering a wrong number, character, "/" or other symbol, you could render this file type and others completely useless and have to reinstall software to re-register file types?

Personally, I wouldn't bother apart from setting up an image naming convention and store the image types in separate folders.  Paint Shop Pro has a good thumbnail browser and, even with literally hundreds of images, browsing separate folders makes more sense.  
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Expert Comment

by:BillDL
ID: 8216402
If you are curious to see why Windows identifies every file type so meticulously go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\PSP7.Image in RegEdit and take a look at the sub-keys and values therein.

This key holds the instructions on how ALL images associated with PsP are opened, edited, printed etc.  The CLSID is the unique class identifier for a Paint Shop Pro Image in the same way that a uique CLSID exists for a PsP Browser File Type etc.

pratap_r will be able to advise you further since he first suggested the registry hack, because I simply don't see the need for it and I don't really want to be held accountable for any errors or misunderstandings which screw up your system.

If you choose to start editing the registry under advice, ALWAYS use RegEdit's "Registry > Export Registry" menu and ensure that you are exporting the ENTIRE registry as a .REG file with a useful name to an accessible folder.

By using "Registry > Import Registry" you could restore it to how it was, or do the same by simply double-clicking the .REG file.
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LVL 38

Accepted Solution

by:
BillDL earned 400 total points
ID: 8216421
Sorry Jazzle, I've just checked your profile and see that you are in your 2nd Year Computing Science.

It was just that your last line threw me a bit with it's simplicity, ie:

(Not that it should be relevant... but: the files in question are graphics (e.g. *.gif and *.jpg) and the program is PaintShop Pro 7.  I remember that previous to installation gifs and jpegs had diff icons.)

As you will have seen from my postings, it IS relevant to know the application and file types.

How genned up are you with using RegEdit?  I suppose even someone who thinks in hex may not have been exposed to it before because the need wasn't there.
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LVL 11

Expert Comment

by:pratap_r
ID: 8218070
BillDL is right, unless you desperately need regedit and you are pretty comfortable with it, it better to avoid it. You could end up with the files showing NO ICONS at all if you did it wrong.. Anyway BillDLs steps on regedit should work..

Enjoy!
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:Jazzle
ID: 8219062
I don't think in hex - but know what you mean.
Thanks for your help, Jez
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:BillDL
ID: 8219418
Jez, I didn't really answer your question directly - just offered advice from experience of trying out such things.

If you REALLY need to know how to go about actually changing this in the registry, then I will thoroughly test a registry tweak for you using my spare PC if you want.
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:Jazzle
ID: 8219468
BillDL:  don't worry - i appreciated the advice you did give, and i'm happy(ier) playing so i can find a total solution myself.  Thanks
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