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Set A File Association in Windows
by Robert Moskowitz
One of the nicest features in Windows is that you don't have to start an application to access your data. You can simply open the data file you want, and through the magic of file association in Windows, the computer causes your application to start up automatically.
But which application will start?
The computer doesn't understand your data, or know what application you want to use. It simply goes by a list of "file associations" that you give it. For example, your electronic spreadsheet data files are associated with your number crunching program. Your word processing files are associated with whatever word processor you use. Your data files are associated with your favorite database manager. And your text files are associated with your text editor, which may also be the same as your word processor.
This association is dependent on the "suffix" of your data file. Whether or not you see it, each data file has a three or four letter suffix at the end of its name. Typically, files have the form "name of file.xxx". The ".xxx" is where the suffix would be, and your computer uses this suffix to determine what application file you want to be associated with that data file. ".doc" typically has an association with word processing, ".txt" typically has an association with text editor, ".db" is one of the suffixes that typically have an association with database, and ".xls" is one of the suffixes that typically have an association with electronic spreadsheet.
There are literally thousands of different types of files in your computer, and they all have specific suffixes. So to have your computer open a data file using the correct application, these associations must be set accurately. Mostly, these associations are taken care of without your attention. But when they get out of whack, or if you suddenly want to use a different application with certain types of data files, here are two ways you can set a file association to your liking:
Use your file management program (typically Explore) to right-click on the data file you want to open. Select "open with" and when the window pops open, scroll to the application program you want to associate with that type of data file. If you want to keep this association from now on, put a checkmark next to the "always use this application" option. Click "OK" and you're done.
Or you can open the Control Panel and select "Folders". Under the "File Types" tab you can scroll to the suffix you're trying to associate, and when you get there, hit the "Change" button next to "opens with". If the suffix isn't listed, you can hit the "New" button to add it, then continue with the "Change" button to set a new file association.
Two other tips:
1) If you don't have a favorite file management program, right-click on the "Start" button and select "Explore". This opens a special program that lets you look at all the files stored in your computer and open, move, copy, rename, or delete them.
2) If you can't see the suffixes at the end of your file names, open the Control Panel and select "Folders". Under the "View" tab scroll down and make sure there is no check in the box next to ""Hide extensions for known file types". Then click "OK".
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