Open With ... option not available on context menu

Posted on 2005-03-22
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2008-03-10
It used to be that when I right-clicked on an unknown file type, Open with ... would  appear right under the Open option in the context menu.  For a known file type, it would not appear (unless you did a ctrl-right click, or shift-right click, or something).  Maybe that was an older OS, though.  It looks just the opposite now.  For files types that are known, it gives me the Open with option, but for unknown files it does not!  Of course, if I click on it, then it brings up the Windows dialogue "Windows cannot find the application to open this file, what would you like to do ... ya ya ya".  I suppose that works, but it's just bothering me:  Where is the Open With option on the context menu??  Thanks!
Question by:AHadley2K5
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LVL 37

Expert Comment

by:Harisha M G
ID: 13605501
Hi AHadley2K5,

That depends on the file type...
Goto Explorer --> Tools --> Folder Options --> File Types.
Select the file type and click Advanced.
You will see various 'Actions'.
If Open With... is listed in that Actions list, you will get it in the context menu, otherwise not


Author Comment

ID: 13605578
I'm sorry, I don't understand.  When you say "select the file type";  there are only the KNOWN file types in the list.  I DO get the Open With in the context menu for known file types.

What I would like to have is the same thing for UNKNOWN file types.  I don't think there is a list of unknown file types, is there?  And if there were, there must be zillions of them; I would have to select each one and click on Advanced and check a box?  That doesn't sound right.
LVL 22

Expert Comment

ID: 13606034
Every file has the "Open with..." option no matter what file extension it is (known or unknown).

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LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 13606317
Missing Open With option when right-clicking a highlighted file in Explorer

Running Windows XP SP2, always had this option to choose "open with" after highlighting a file and right-clicking it while holding CTRL; even after this system was upgraded to XP SP2, but suddenly the option is gone.  Insight appreciated.  There are times I want to over-ride the default application that handles some file types for a session only vs. reassigning the file type control permanently.

asked by astaec on 02/21/2005 08:26AM PST

Comment from spiderfix Date: 02/21/2005 09:23AM PST      Comment      
Your clicking on a *.exe file or a *.bat file when looking for Open With...By XP default (security upgrade) the option to alter executables has been removed fromthe right-click context menu. To alter the security on executables you need to removethe "NoOpenWith" value to each individual *.exe your trying to modify.

Comment from sramesh2k Date: 02/21/2005 10:19AM PST      Comment      
Greetings Asta,You may use this REG file to add a open-with option to the context menu, for all file types:-----------------------------------------------------Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\Shell\Open with\command]@="rundll32.exe C:\\Windows\\system32\\shell32.dll,OpenAs_RunDLL %1"

Assisted Answer from LRI41 Date: 02/22/2005 02:18PM PSTGrade: A      Assisted Answer      
sramesh2k Can I ask you to clarify and/or make is simplier forthe simple minded, since I have substantially the same problem . My son said to take you string, copy and paste it into notepad and import it   Does this string replace and exising string in the registry or do you just add in to the end of whatever is there.  As you can see, I am no expert with respect to any registry problems.  TIA

Assisted Answer from sramesh2k Date: 02/22/2005 07:37PM PSTGrade: A      Assisted Answer      
Hi LRI41,Your son is correct, that's the way the REG file is used. The REG file adds contents to the registry automatically.How To Add, Modify, or Delete Registry Subkeys and Values by Using a Registration Entries (.reg) File: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310516I apologize for not providing the above details in my previous post, as the question was asked by an another expert in computing, I'm sure Asta knew how to use REG files.


The Ironical part is even with the explanded explanation by sramesh2k, I never firgured out how
to import the change even after reading the Microsoft
Bulletin, I really didn't think I was that dumb!!!!

Author Comment

ID: 13611639
That was very good ... it works ... sort of ...

You're right it DOES give the the Open with option when I right-click on a file now, even on an unknown file type!  So, that's technically what I asked for.  

But - and this is my fault - what I meant to ask for was the functionality behind the Open with menu item.   For example:  Right now, if I right-click on a file of known file type, and select the Open With menu item, I get the "Open With" dialog window.  It's the same as if, under the Open With menu item, there is a submenu; the top part being comprised of possible program options to choose to open with, and at the bottom it says "Choose Program".  If that is clicked, again I get the same "Open With" dialog ... I don't know how to do screen shots in this forum, but you know, it's the one that looks like it hasn't changed much since Windows 95.

On the other hand, if I now right-click on a file of UNKNOWN file type, I DO get the Open With menu item, thanks to the reg script provided above ... However, the problem is that it acts just like the Open menu item.  There is no difference.   It brings up that new "Open" Windows dialog that explains to me that there is no program associated with this file type, and then asks me if I want to search the web or select a program from a list?  Of course, I want to select a program from a list, so I click that and ... NOW I have the Open With dialog.  

If this is just the way windows was designed to work now, then okay, I can live with that.  But, I don't remember ever the Open With dialog behaving differently for known and unknown file types.  

This all seems very minor, and I don't know why it is bothering me; unless it is because, in my mind, "I know" already that there is no program associated with it.  You can tell that just by looking at the icon!  But, in order to GET a program associated with it, I have to "try" to open it, and then Windows has to inform me as to what the problem is.  I think I just don't want the computer to think I'm stupid!!!   How dumb is that?  I don't want it telling me things I already know.  

But, I do thank you for the reg script, and if no one comes up with any better ideas, I'll award you those points.
LVL 10

Accepted Solution

LRI41 earned 500 total points
ID: 13612044
I am just guessing I really don't know but I think that it how it works, if you only want the list to choose from, try "Open Expert"

But B 4 I give you that info, if you understood how to implement
that script above, explain it to me in simple terms, I really need a "dumb country boy" explanation.

 Please don't assume I can do any more without specific instructions. For what it's worth, I take instructions pretty good (at least according to my wife).
Thanks in advance for your help.

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OpenExpert 1.40

Open With submenu for explorer's menu

Simply install our freeware OpenExpert and you will be able to configure every single existing filetype with its own "open with..." submenu extension. Now you can quickly and simply choose which application you want to open that particular file. Right click the mouse and select the program to open the file. That's all there is to it!

OpenExpert is free for use at home! For business use please purchase a licence


Author Comment

ID: 13612441
Great, that was exactly what I needed!

As far as running the above mentioned script, it's not a problem ... I just had to go to the Microsoft KB article you referenced to get some info on the syntax.  (BTW: The link you posted doesn't get there, but I did find it at this link:
<a href="http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;310516">http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;310516</a>

Just copy the string and paste it into notepad.  The only trick is that the very first line has to be:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

Then there has to be a blank space, and then the rest of it.
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\Shell\Open with\command]
@="rundll32.exe C:\\Windows\\system32\\shell32.dll,OpenAs_RunDLL %1"

Save the file somewhere, and give it some name, it doesn't matter.  The trick is to change the extension of the file after you save and close it, from a .txt to a .reg.  Once you change the extension, just double-click, or open it.  It will run the script and that's it!

LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 13612586
Thank You!!!!
LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 13684522
AHadley2K5 , I hope you have not "unsubscribe to  the\is question and you receive the notice of this posting.  I am curious as to
what happened, if anything, to your "Windows Open UP With" Progrm once you downloaded and installed "Open Expert."

My guess is that you cannot run both the windows program and
Open Expert on the menus at the same time.

For Background on this see the question that I recently posted after importing sramesh2k  and your Registry solution.
I got two OPen Up with OPtions on both the Right Click and
the "File: Menu, but the one associated with the Windows
Program gives me the follow window:

Red Button
With White X+

            This file does not have a program associated with it for performing this
            action. Create an association in the Folder Options control panel.

                             (  OK   )

See the following post for more Background:


I could find no other way to contact you.

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