OpenWithAdd freeware adds apps to Open With dialog box

The Open With dialog box lists the programs that Windows thinks you can open a file with. But it's hard to add an application as one of the choices. OpenWithAdd freeware changes that.

Right-click on a file in Windows and the context menu displays the option Open With, which lists the programs that Windows thinks you can open the file with.

But the Open With dialog has a quirk. Although it's easy to set the default for which program you want to open that file type with, it's not as easy to add an application as one of the Open With choices.

For instance, I have Photoshop on my computer, but I don't always want to open a Photoshop file with Photoshop itself. Sometimes I'd rather use the IrfanView graphic viewer to quickly preview the document, since loading Photoshop (even on my relatively fast machine) takes a while. I was only able to get IrfanView to add itself to the Open With after a lot of manual messing around.

A piece of freeware called OpenWithAdd can help you work around this issue. The utility, from programmer Ramesh Srinivasan, requires no installation and can run from any folder.

Run OpenWithAdd and you'll be asked which application to add to the Open With dialog. You'll also be asked for a personalized name for the app. Click Register and from then on, any contextual Open With dialog will feature that program.

OpenWithAdd has a few drawbacks. Right now, you can't remove programs from the Open With dialog, only addthem. It's possible to manually remove the shell references from the Registry in from HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Applications, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Applications and HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Applications, but for the most part it does no harm to leave them in.

Also, OpenWithAdd runs on Vista and all earlier 32-bit editions of Windows. Just be sure to run it in Administrator mode on Vista for the best possible results.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of Windows Insight (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of experience working with Windows, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and other TechTarget sites.

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This was first published in June 2007

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