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Clear unwanted Open With entries

Published on June 27, 2004
Updated on March 06, 2007
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Summary

When right-clicking a file you may see an option called Open With, which contains a list of programs to open the file with. Information provided in this article helps you remove unwanted entries from the Open With listing on a per file-type basis. For the purposes of illustration, examples in this topic use a .xyz file type, and xyzfile as the ProgID for .xyz file type.

Open With listing and their registry locations

The Open With listing for a file type is populated from the following registry keys:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ FileExts \ .xyz \ OpenWithList

HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ FileExts \ .xyz \ OpenWithProgIDs

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.xyz\ OpenWithList

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.xyz\ OpenWithProgIDs

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\<Perceived Type>\OpenWithList

More information

OpenWithList

The OpenWithList key contains a list of values, with each value containing the executable name of an application. Examples: paint.exe, notepad.exe, wordpad.exe etc. The applications listed under this key for a file extension appear under the Recommended Programs heading in the Open With dialog box. These applications also appear in the Open With submenu.

OpenWithProgIDs

The OpenWithProgIDs key contains a list of values, with each value containing a ProgID. The ProgID specified as the default value for the file extension is the default file handler. To better understand what ProgID is, have a look at the graphic below:

Here are some ProgID examples: txtfile, jpegfile, giffile, Wordpad.Document.1, xmlfile and so forth.

SystemFileAssociations\<Perceived Type>

The OpenWithList and OpenWithProgIDs may be implemented on a Perceived Type basis, in addition to per-file type basis. If the Perceived Type for a file extension is defined as image, the OpenWithList and OpenWithProgIDs subkeys present under the following key will be used by Windows to generate the Open With listing:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\image\

The Perceived type for a file extension could be audio, image, system, text or video.

Using the Registry Editor to remove unwanted Open With entries

WARNING: If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk. It's highly advisable to create a System Restore point, and perform a complete registry backup before modifying the registry.

Now that you know the registry locations from where the Open With listing is generated. To remove unwanted entries from the Open With listing, start the Registry Editor tool (regedit.exe) and navigate to the above locations one by one. In the right-pane, select the entry that you want to remove, right-click and choose Delete. Here is another graphic:

Related Utilities

  • Want to troubleshoot a file association related problem, or need to see where the Open With entries are located in the registry? You can use FileExtInfo utility which I wrote. FileExtInfo lists the complete file association information for a chosen file type and creates a report. This utility was written in my part time, and is a freeware. However, you're most welcome to donate to support such helpful tools, and to keep this Windows Troubleshooting site going.
  • MRU Blaster can cleanup the Open With listings.

Related links

Open With related articles in this site


This page was last updated on March 06, 2007.
Copyright 2007 (and earlier years) Ramesh Srinivasan