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Geek Speak: Fix my shortcuts!

By   /   September 30, 2009  /   Comments

This week’s question comes from one of my clients in Paradise (Emerald Coast of Florida). She wants to know why, all of a sudden, some of her desktop shortcut icons don’t look like they used to and worse, don’t open with the correct program like they used to. For example, a shortcut to one of her PowerPoint presentations used to feature the characteristic red PPoint Logo and now it looks kind of generic. What’s up with that?

It is convenient for us to have desktop shortcuts to our application programs and even to specific files that we use a lot; but in order for them to be of our installed programs can be used to open them. In some cases there is more than one app that can open a file and that can lead to confusion. Windows has a feature called “file association” that helps to figure out which app to use when a specific shortcut is double-clicked.

Actually the file association is based on the “filename extension” of the particular file. For example if you have a file with the extension .txt that is a text type file and depending on how your PC is set up, it could be opened with several different apps. On a typical Windows PC, a .txt file might be set by default to open with the free Windows app, Notepad and there would be a reference filed in the registry that pointed to Notepad whenever you clicked on a .txt file. This association and action would be completely seamless; it would happen automatically. There are other ways to open a .txt file including WordPad, MS Works and MS Word and others. How your PC opens .txt files is dependent on the way file associations are set on it.

You can change file associations easily on your own, but you should also know that sometimes when you install a new app, it may change them so that it is the default file opener. Sometimes the new app will ask you if you want to change file associations and sometimes they just do it on their own. This happens quite frequently with image files having a .jpg extension. When you install a new picture viewer or editor, it will set itself as the default app to open .jpg (or any other image type files). Next time you open a picture file, you may be surprised to see a completely different interface than the one you are used to.

Here’s how to set your file associations back to the way you want them. In Win XP, right click a file type or a shortcut that you want to reset. Then left click “choose program” and check the “always use” box at the bottom. Now look in the “programs” window and select the program that you want to open the file with. Click OK and you have reset the file association for the filename extension you chose. Vista is only slightly different. Right click/Open With/Choose default/check Always use/ Select program/OK.

For more help with file associations, go to tinyurl.com/ykssx7.

jimhallWritten by Jim Hall. Email your questions to geekspeak@mchsi.com . You can find Jim online at HallsTrainingSolutions.com

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  • Published: 1818 days ago on September 30, 2009
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  • Last Modified: September 29, 2009 @ 8:39 pm
  • Filed Under: Geek Speak
 

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