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Right-click -> Open With... menu do not update with new programs

Posted on 2007-03-17
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Last Modified: 2008-01-09
Normally, each time you right-click a file, select Open With... and choose a new program from the programs list, it will append itself into the pop-out menu for future use. I don't quite remember when this stopped happening, but it now forces me to browse through my Open With... list each time I want to open a certain file with a program other than its default association.

For example, I have an AVS script that opens by default in Windows Media Player, often I would like to edit this in Wordpad, so I right-click it and select Open With... and choose Wordpad. In normal circumstances, after I've done this the first time, Wordpad should be now on the Open With... drop down menu. Instead, I am forced to manually select it each time. Keep in mind that what the applications added prior to this error occurring are still there, i.e. Windows Media Player will be on the list, but Wordpad will not appear.
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Question by:jamone
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LeeTutor earned 500 total points
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This MSKB article says it is for Win2000 and WinMillenium, but it seems to apply to WinXP also.  It sounds like your registry is corrupted in the appropriate OpenWithList subkey for .avs files.  With the info in this article, you might be able to correct it:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/258860
How to Remove Programs from the "Open With" List
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by:jamone
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LeeTutor:
Your comment greatly helped in diagnosing the problem, but I've yet to find a solution.

First of all, the problem occurs with EVERY file type, I only used .avs as an example, but this the new information I've found: Browsing to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ Explorer\FileExts\.extension\OpenWithList, and selecting .avs, there are four keys that exist specifying applications I've used to open .avs files (these are what should appear in the Open With... submenu). In Explorer, I only see two, the two programs I've used prior to this bug occurring. I hope that brings someone closer to finding the answer.
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by:LeeTutor
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How about going to the FileExts subkey, right clicking on it, then selecting Export from the context menu.  Then open the key in Notepad and copy/paste it to your next comment.  I will inspect it to compare it with the corresponding key in my registry to check if I can find anything wrong...
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by:jamone
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Upping to 500 points.

Here's the key for .avs files:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\.avs\OpenWithList]
"a"="WORDPAD.EXE"
"MRUList"="bacd"
"b"="wmplayer.exe"
"c"="zplayer.exe"
"d"="RKVideoConverter.exe"

In Explorer, only Zoomplayer and Wordpad are visible in the submenu (a and c).

Changing MRUList to something like "abcd" -> reverts to "bacd" upon opening file
Adding a new entry "e" and editting MRUList has no effect
Editing "b" or "c" to something other than Zoomplayer or Wordpad removes it from the list, if both are changed, the submenu will disappear.
From the Open With... menu, if new programs are associated, registry will be updated, but will not appear in Explorer submenu.
These symptoms occur for all file types. However, here's an interesting bit: after deleting the enter OpenWithList key and attempting to reassociate files, the Open With submenu will not appear until I use Zoomplayer or Wordpad. I.e. I delete the registry key, and open the .avs file with Windows Media Player, the submenu will not appear, but as soon as I use Wordpad or Zoomplayer to open the .avs, the Open With submenu will appear and be populated with the respective program (Wordpad and Zoomplayer only, no others are visible). I'll continue to investigate.
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by:LeeTutor
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All right, one thing I've found by inspecting my registry is that every time there is an OpenWithList subkey, there is one like this included in the list:

(Default)   REG_SZ     (value not set)

I think most registry keys have such a default value.  I'll bet that has something to do with your entries not showing up in the Explorer right click menu.
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by:LeeTutor
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I also didn't find any registry extension keys in my registry containing the OpenWithList subkey where the value MRUList wasn't the LAST named entry (following a, b, c, etc.).  Perhaps THAT also has something to do with missing entries in the Explorer right click...
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by:jamone
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LeeTutor: the default registry key is not exported with your .reg file. It is automatically generated with every registry element. Not sure the reason (could be an interesting read).

Anyway, I think I have an explanation. During the Zoomplayer installation, it set several file associations. In addition, it created a ZPZPLFile ProgId under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*fileextension*. Windows Explorer will reconize files that are tagged with this ProgId as a "Zoomplayer file". That's why in the Open With menu, even with the OpenWithList key deleted, it will recommend Zoomplayer to open .avs files. I guess Wordpad was associated prior to the Zoomplayer installation and that's why it is preserved, but no new programs can append onto the list. To fix the problem, I deleted the "OpenWithProgIds" key in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*fileextension*\ and HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\*fileextension*, resetting the program type association. Now, any new programs I use will appear on the submenu.

Thanks for your help, LeeTutor, I wouldn't have discovered the solution without  your answer as a starting point.
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by:LeeTutor
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Very good.  Glad to be of help, and thanks for coming back with extra information.  It could be useful to future viewers of this question...
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