Win 2000 - Open one file type in different applications

Make your menu: right-click any file icon and choose Open With. The first time you do this for an unassociated file type, you'll be presented with an Open With dialogue box listing several installed applications. Select one, or click Other. Select the application file from your hard disk, and click Open. Then click OK. Next time, you may still have to display the Open With dialogue box and select another application. Once you've opened a file type in two or more applications, you'll get an Open With submenu that lists all the applications you've used to open this particular type of file. If the application you want is not on the Open With submenu, click Choose Program and repeat the steps to add it. The Open With submenu always shows the default program at the top; items are then sorted by date of use, with the most recent application first.

Change default associations: to change the default application for a file type, right-click a file and choose Open With-Choose Program. Select an application from the list, and check the box labelled "Always use this program to open these files". Then click OK.

Now, the hard part: if you want to rename or remove an item from the Open With menu or Open With dialogue box, you'll have to edit the Windows Registry.

Since this is risky, you should backup the Registry first: choose Start-Programs-Accessories-System Tools-Backup. In the Backup window, choose Tools-Create an Emergency Repair Disk. When prompted, insert a floppy disk and check Also backup the registry to the repair directory. Click OK. If you run into trouble, these tools might help; if not, you might have to reinstall Windows - so proceed at your own risk.

Remove a menu item: if you add an item to your Open With menu and later decide to remove it, run regedit and navigate down the tree on the left until you come to the branch HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts. If necessary, double-click the FileExts folder to expand the branches beneath. Find the file extension for the menu you want to edit, and double-click it. Then select the OpenWithList key under the extension key. In the pane on the right, select the icon corresponding to the menu item you want to remove. (You won't see the menu item by name, rather the name of the file that the menu item launches.) Press and click Yes to confirm.

Rename menu and dialogue box items: if you navigate through the menu using keyboard shortcuts, renaming the items in your Open With menu and Open With dialogue box can ease the process. For example, - displays the context (right-click) menu for selected icons; pressing afterward displays the Open With menu. From there, just press the first letter of the menu item you want. If more than one item starts with that letter, you may have to press it multiple times, followed by . By renaming the menu items that begin with the same letter, you'll be able to access them more quickly.

Here's what to do: in the Registry Editor, navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Applications key. Double-click Applications, and then double-click the application name whose menu you want to modify. Under that key, select the Shell key. In the right pane, double-click the Friendly Cache icon. In the Edit String dialogue box, edit the text in the Value data box - this is the text that will appear on the Open With menu and Open With dialogue box. If you want to give the menu name a unique keyboard shortcut, put an ampersand (&) in front of one of the letters in the name. Be sure that no other menu items begin with the letter you pick. Click OK and exit the Registry. The next time you open this menu using the keyboard method, you'll see an underscore marking the letter you designated; press it to launch that application. This underscore does not appear if you use the mouse to display the menu.

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