Changing a File Association, Repairing broken File Associations
You doubleclick a document file and the wrong program opens, or the file opens in an incorrect mode (ie, a PowerPoint Show file opens in PowerPoint Edit mode), or your PowerPoint files have the wrong icon. Or you get a message explaining something about how Windows doesn't know what to do with this type of file.
Windows uses the file's extension (the .XXX part at the end of the file name) to determine what type of file it is. For example, .PPT and .PPTX files are PowerPoint presentations, .PDFs are Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format files and so on.
Windows also uses the file's extension to determine what program to open when you doubleclick a file of that type.
The combination of Extension + File Type + Program to use when opening a file type is called an association. Windows "associates" a file of a certain extension with a program.
In some cases, the file association tells Windows "When the user doubleclicks one of these files, open this program with a special set of instructions." For example, the file associations for PowerPoint PPS and PPSX files tell Windows to open the file the user clicked in PowerPoint and to go right into slideshow view. That's why these "PowerPoint Show" files start a slideshow directly without the user having to do anything special.
But sometimes the file associations can get changed or corrupted or other programs take over the file associations for a particular type of file. The suggestions below show you how to fix the problem by repairing the file associations.
Problems viewing PowerPoint files in Outlook or Outlook Express
If you're trying to view a PowerPoint file you received as an email attachment in Outlook or Outlook Express AND you have the free PowerPoint 2003 Viewer (but not PowerPoint) installed AND you have Windows XP SP2 (or higher) and see a message like
This file does not have a program associated with it for performing this action. Create an association in the Folder Options control panel.
This can occur if you're using Outlook Express under Windows XP Service Pack 2 and have only the free PowerPoint Viewer (not PowerPoint itself) installed.
Problem: double-clicking a PowerPoint file's icon doesn't work
You double-click the icon for a PowerPoint file and:
- The file opens in PowerPoint in Normal view instead of SlideShow view
- Windows tries to open the file in some other program than PowerPoint
- Nothing at all happens
Try "re-registering" PowerPoint.
- Quit PowerPoint if it's running. If you use Windows Vista, turn UAC off .
- Choose Start, Run
- Click "Browse" and navigate to POWERPNT.EXE (normally in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OfficeXX, where XX is your Office version)
- Click POWERPNT.EXE then click Open.
- The full path to POWERPNT.EXE is now in the Run box surrounded by quote marks; at the end of the path, type a space then /regserver
- Click OK
- PowerPoint will start and re-register itself, including resetting the correct file associations. Quit PowerPoint when it finishes.
- If you turned Vista's UAC off earlier, you can turn it back on now.
If you have PowerPoint 2000 or later, you can run Detect and Repair instead of messing with file paths. It takes a bit longer but does a more thorough job of repairing broken file associations. Start PowerPoint and choose Help, Detect and Repair from the main menu. Follow the instructions from there.
Manually repairing file associations
You'll need to be able to view file extensons in Windows Explorer to follow the instructions below. If you don't see file extensions, do the steps in Improving the view in Windows Explorer then come on back here for the rest.
First, start Windows Explorer (right-click Start, click Explore)
Browse to locate a file of the type you're having problems with.
The next steps will depend on the version of Windows you have.
Windows XP/XP Home:
- Right click on the file and select "Open With" from the pop-up menu
- Select "Choose Program"
- Locate the program you want Windows to use to open files of this type and select it
- Put a checkmark next to "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file".
- Click OK
Other Windows versions:
- Click on the file to select it.
- Hold down the SHIFT key while you right-click the same file.
- Choose Open With from the pop-up menu.
- In the Open With dialog box, locate the program you want Windows to use to open files of this type and select it.
- Put a checkmark next to "Always use this program to open files of this type"
- Click OK
You can also get to the root of the problem by editing the Open action for the file association directly:
- Use Windows Explorer to locate a PowerPoint PPT file. Click once to highlight it.
- From the menu bar, choose Tools, Folder Options
- In the Options dialog box, click the File Types tab
- Scroll through the Registered File Types list to Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation and double-click it (or if using Windows 2000, click it then click Advanced in the area below).
- In the resulting Edit File Type dialog box, double-click Open in the Actions list.
- In the text box labeled Application used to perform action, you should see
where X:\abc\def\ represents the full path to the folder where PowerPnt.EXE is located. If you don't know the exact path, use the Browse button and locate PowerPnt.EXE.
The quote marks should be entered exactly as shown. One set of quotes around the path to PowerPnt.EXE, another set around "%1"
- Click OK and/or Close until you're back in Windows Explorer.
- Now try doubleclicking the problem PowerPoint file again.
- You may want to perform the same steps for PPS as well as PPT files.
- If you're having problems with some other application's files, substitute the appropriate file type and application names above.
- You can also set Print and sometimes other actions here. If the Open action setting was incorrect, the others may be as well. It's particularly important to have the %1 surrounded by quote marks.