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 File Association 

What is file association? File association settings tell Windows what program to use when you click on a file within a folder. As an example when you click on a JPG type image file within a folder, or open a JPG image within an Email, Windows will run Internet Explorer to view this file.

The associations are based on the second part of a file name as this is the "file type" or "file extension". For instance a JPG type image file may have the name baby.jpg and when you click on it Windows sees the last part of the file name as JPG then opens the file with Internet Explorer (if JPG images are associated with Internet Explorer).

If you are having a problem viewing or opening a file then it's most likely because Windows doesn't know what program to use when you click on it. In other words there's no file association to that particular file type.

In order to see what files are associated with what programs (or not) first open the "My Computer" folder, then click on View / Folder Options

My Computer

Once in folder options click on the File Types tab at the top...

Folder Options

Scroll down until you find the file type you are interested in, then highlight the file name in the "Registered file types" window.

Shown above, as an example, the JPEG Image choice is highlighted. Once a file type is highlighted the bottom part of the screen will show what program is associated with it (and maybe their variations, JPEG, JPG, JPE). In the sample above you can see that JPEG, JPG & JPE are all associated with IEPLORE (Internet Explorer). So any file on your computer end in one of those extensions (like baby.jpg) will open with Internet Explorer.

You can get more details by highlighting the file type and clicking on Edit (caution, do not modify any options unless you are sure what you're doing). Below is an image of what you should see once you click on Edit...

Edit File Type

From this screen you can modify the options for the particular file association. Also you can now click on Edit again from this screen and see the next level of file association details (as shown below). This is where it turns into real mumbo-jumbo... please don't change anything here unless you know what you are doing, just accept it as the way things are...  =)

Editing Action

That's a quick rundown of what file association is all about, you can figure out the rest.