Reprinted from The Brick Communicator newspaper - May 31st, 2002.

Computer Q&A

with Mark Levy

Open WithÖ..What?
1st of a 2 part series

A common question asked during the Q&A session at our meetings is ďsometimes when I try to open a file, a dialog box comes up on the screen asking me what program I want to open the file with, how can I open it if I donít know what program is associated with it?

When this happens Windows is telling you it canít find a program on your hard drive that will recognize the file with that particular extension. Extensions are the three characters after a file name used to identify a file to its corresponding program such as DOC is a Word document file and BMP is a Windows Bitmap file. When Windows canít find the program that will open a file it leaves it up to you and the Open With dialog box, youíll choose the correct program from the list, the mystery file opens and youíre on your way.

Sometimes you wonít have a clue and will have to use trial and error, a good place to start is to use Notepad to try and open the file in question, if you can read text thatís good, if it is a bunch of code then youíll have to try again. When you are certain the selected file opens properly, click on the file again and check the box Always use the selected program to open this kind of file. DO NOT check this box unless you are sure that program WILL open that file because if you leave this box checked the file will always attempt to open with that program and you wonít be able to do anymore searching, if this happens you will have to unassociate the file with that program (this will be explained in Part 2).

Mark Levy is president of the Jersey Shore Computer Club. Meetings held monthly in the Municipal Complex, Brick Township. For more information visit: or e-mail:

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