How to Fix: 'Open With' Not Working - this fix WORKS!

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader George M. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I upgraded to Windows 10 a few months ago - however, just recently when I right click on a file, the 'Open with' option is missing from the menu. For example, normally when I right click on a video file, I have the option to 'Open with', and then I can choose Video Lan Player, or Windows Media Player, etc - but that option is no longer available. I have searched the web on how to fix the broken 'Open with' option but NONE of the fixes online work! Can you please help? "

My response:

I contacted George and asked if he would like to connect to his machine using my remote desktop service to review the problem, and he agreed. I tested his machine (compared to mine) to see if the "Open with" would function in a similar manner, but it did not.

To be clear, fixing the "Open with" is not the same as setting a file association in which a particular file is opened by a particular program (example: a .doc file opens MS Word). The "Open with" is a right-click menu option that allows you to specify how to open a file in a particular instance. For example, a user may right click a .JPG (image file), then select "Open with -> MS Paint" in order to edit the file - whereas the normal behavior for double clicking a .JPG file is to load it using "Windows Photo Viewer" in order to view the file. Please note the difference!

With that said, the "Open with" dialogue menu which is part of Windows is actually part of the Windows Registry; many of the fixes online either point to a .REG (registry) file you can download, then double click, which will then re-import the proper settings back into the registry and magically fix the problem.

Other fixes I came across tell you how to manually input (and remove) information into the Windows Registry using the "regedit" program. I tried both options on George's machine, but neither worked. I also tried enabling the Administrator user on George's machine to see if the "Open with" would appear on the Administrator's desktop, but it did not. (If it did, then that would suggest that George's user account might be corrupt).

At any rate - after a bit of research I came across another post on how to make a custom "Open with Notepad" menu option. In doing so, I discovered this method uses a different part of the Windows Registry to achieve a similar result to "Open with" - except it opens whatever you right click with Notepad. With that in mind, I developed a similar hack - to use a different part of the Windows Registry to restore the "Open with" functionality (using the very specific "Open with" registry hexadecimal value), and it worked.

Long story short: if you're one of those people who can't make "Open with" work despite trying all these "fixes" online - I pretty much guarantee my method (Option #2) should work for you if Option #1 does not.

Option #1: How to Fix: Open With Not Working (by re-registering the key)

As I mentioned above, the "Open with" option appears in a right-click menu because it is part of a very specific Windows Registry entry. Sometimes that Windows Registry entry goes missing or is corrupt, so the best way to fix this is to re-register the Windows Registry key.

To do so:

  1. Click Start, then type in "Notepad" (no quotes). Wait for notepad to appear in the list, then click it.
     
  2. Use your mouse to highlight the text below:

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers\Open with] @="{09799AFB-AD67-11d1-ABCD-00C04FC30936}"
     
  3. Right click over top of the highlighted text, then select Copy from the dialogue menu. Go back to the Notepad window, then click Edit -> Paste. The text you copied in Step #2 should now have been pasted inside of Notepad.
     
  4. Inside notepad, click File -> Save As, and name the file "Open with fix 1.reg" and save it to your desktop for easy access.
     
  5. Double click the "Open with fix 1.reg" file to load it into your Windows Registry. Windows will warn you about adding the file into the registry - you can safely ignore the warning and click OK.
     
  6. Go to a video file or text file (not a shortcut of a file), then right click it and you should see the "Open with" dialogue menu.

If that still does not work for you, try Option #2 below.

Option #2: How to Fix: Open With Not Working (using Dennis' hack)

Sometimes the "Open with" menu option won't work even if the proper "Open with" Windows Registry entry is where it should be. Unfortunately, this happens if your Windows or Windows Registry is corrupt. One way to get around this is to add the "Open with" menu option in a different part of the Windows Registry typically reserved for other Windows Shell commands.

To do so:

  1. Click Start, then type in "Notepad" (no quotes). Wait for notepad to appear in the list, then click it.
     
  2. Use your mouse to highlight the text below:

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shell\Open with ...\command] @="{09799AFB-AD67-11d1-ABCD-00C04FC30936}"
     
  3. Right click over top of the highlighted text, then select Copy from the dialogue menu. Go back to the Notepad window, then click Edit -> Paste. The text you copied in Step #2 should now have been pasted inside of Notepad.
     
  4. Inside notepad, click File -> Save As, and name the file "Open with fix 2.reg" and save it to your desktop for easy access.
     
  5. Double click the "Open with fix 2.reg" file to load it into your Windows Registry. Windows will warn you about adding the file into the registry - you can safely ignore the warning and click OK.
     
  6. Go to a video file or text file (not a shortcut of a file), then right click it and you should see the "Open with ..." menu option. Left click it, and Windows should now display a window asking you how you would like to open the file.

Please note -

Normally, placing your mouse over top of the words "Open with ->" will display a list of options that you can choose from, then you would click whichever program you wanted to open with. In my hack, hovering over top of "Open with ..." does not display a list of options. Instead, you need to click on "Open with ..." and then you will be shown a window which allows you to choose the options.

I hope that helps anyone who previously could not get "Open with" to work!

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question - or even a computer problem that needs fixing - please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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Comments

dcrisp_8465's picture

Hi Dennis, like your stuff a lot. I found this to be quite helpful along similar lines:
"Default Programs Editor" makes it easy to fix file association settings in Windows, including context menu items, icons, and descriptions. Also: autoplay settings and default programs settings ...all without fiddling around in the registry.
Have a great year....

Dennis Faas's picture

Thanks for your suggestion, however what you're referring to is a separate issue. The article I wrote is with respect to the "Open with" option missing from the right click dialogue menu. You would use the right click "Open with" if you sometimes like to open files using varying programs, rather than a default program. This is very useful, especially for video files.