Recycle your Computers & Technology with us.

Unassociated File Types; Why, What, How (to Fix).

Posted By : of Data Doctors on October 14, 2004

Follow us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter   Follow us on LinkedIn

Let Data Doctors be your personal IT department today

After installing SP2 (Windows XP Service Pack 2), I receive the following message when attempting to open a photo received via email: "This file does not have a program associated with it for performing this action. Create an association in the Folder Options control panel." What do I do?


This question was answered on October 14, 2004. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

This is the classic ‘file association’ problem that inevitably pops up for anyone that operates any flavor of Windows.

The basic problem is that Windows no longer knows what program is to be used to open that file type The file type is determined by the file extension, which are the three letters after the “.” in every filename (Example: filename.ext)

Normally, Windows is notified as to which program to use during the installation of a program designed to work with those files.

For instance, when you install Microsoft Word, it notifies Windows that it will be the program of choice whenever a file with the .doc extension is used.

Once this is in the Registry (Windows internal playbook), Windows knows to launch Microsoft Word whenever you try to open files with the ‘.doc’ extension.

What has happened in your case is that the ‘file association’ for the photos that you are trying to view has been removed, so Windows has no idea what program to use to open .jpg files (the most common format for digital photos).

The fix is actually rather easy as long as you know what type of file you are working with By default, Windows will hide the file extension of any known file types in an attempt to remove some of the confusion that may result.

This also allows malicious users to send file attachments that appear to be something that they are not, so I highly recommend turning off this default setting.

To do so, open ‘My Computer’, click on the Tools menu then on ‘Folder Options’.

Next, click on the ‘View’ menu and look for the entry ‘Hide extensions for known file types’ and remove the checkmark from it and click ‘OK’.

The next step is to save the e-mail file attachment that you working with to your ‘Desktop’ In most e-mail programs, you can right-click on the attachment and select ‘Save as’ Be sure to save the file on the ‘Desktop’ by changing the ‘Save in’ option at the top.

Locate the file on your ‘Desktop’ (the area that you see when you first start your computer) and right-click it.

Choose the ‘Open’ option, which will open a window that says “Windows cannot open this file” Click on the ‘Select the program from a list’ option, then on ‘OK’.

A list of programs will appear, including the ‘Windows Picture and Fax Viewer’ which is the default program used by Windows to view photos

Highlight it, then make sure to checkmark the ‘Always use the selected program to open this kind of file’ option before clicking ‘OK’.

This will launch the picture viewer and notify Windows to always use this program for these files.

If you ever want to change the file association, simply right-click on the file again and choose the ‘Open with’ option to reveal the program list again.

About the author

Posted by of Data Doctors on October 14, 2004

Need Help with this Issue?

We help people with technology! It's what we do.
Contact or Schedule an Appointment with a location for help!