How do I change what program opens .doc files?


Regarding *.doc files, you wrote earlier about protecting against viruses by opening e-mail attachments to WordPad instead of Word. I made the change but now wish to change back to the default setting, i.e. use of Word instead of WordPad. How do I do this? I saved the original article, but it does not tell how.


This question was answered on August 22, 1999. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

The Windows operating system identifies files by their file extension The file extension is the three letters that follow the period in a file's name For example "myletter.doc" is a word processing file identified by the .doc extension, "BudgetSpreadsheet.xlx" is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet identified by the .xls extension, and "SomePicture.jpg" is a JPEG file identified by the .jpg extension When you open a file by double clicking on it, the Windows operating system checks the file extension It uses that information to determine which program to use open up that file The relationship between the file extension and the program used to open it is called a File Association File Associations can be changed Often when a new program/software is installed it assumes that you want to change your File Association for a particular file extension to always be opened by itself It makes a change in a "registry" setting so that now any time you try to open up a file that has that particular file extension, only the new program will open it So if Microsoft Picture It! was installed on your system it created a File Association between itself and any file ending with the .jpg extension Isn't that sneaky? Fortunately you can take back control of your File Associations, either permanantly or just to use a different program to open the file once Now I will tell you how.

First open Explorer To do this find the icon named MyComputer on your desktop ( this is assuming that you haven't changed the name of MyComputer to something else ) Right click on the icon and select "Explore" from the pop-up menu A window with the title "Exploring" will open To make it easier to identify files with the .jpg extension, click on "View" at the top of the "Exploring" window and select "Options" In the "Options" window that opens, uncheck the box beside the words "Hide MS-DOS file extensions for file types that are registered" by clicking in the box (If there isn't a check in the box than do nothing) Click on OK Go to a folder that contains the .doc file you want to open Now hold down the "Shift" key and right click on the file you want to open In the pop-up menu select "Open with" This will open a window called "Open With" Use the scroll bar to scroll down until you see the program you wish to use to open this file and select it with the mouse In your case select word If you want to change the File Association so that this program will always open up this type of file (i.e., .jpg extensions), check the box beside "Always use this program to open this type of file" and click on the OK button If you leave the box unchecked, then only in this instance will the file be opened by the program you selected.

p.s If you don't usually like to see the file extensions when using "Explorer" just go back to "View" - "Options" and check the "Hide MS-DOS file extensions..." box again

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Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on August 22, 1999