How to Change File Type Associations in Windows XP

by Contributor

File type associations help Windows XP identify the programs that are required to open certain files or applications. Text files (.txt) are opened using Notepad or Word while .MP3 files are associated with Windows Media Player or iTunes. However more than one application can be used to open different types of files. You can change file-type associations in Windows XP in order to have one application be the default for all files of the same type.

Change File Type Associations in Windows XP

Click on the Start menu with your mouse or press the "Windows" button on your keyboard.

Click on the "My Computer" option in the Start menu.

Click on the "Tools" tab along the menu bar.

Click on the "Folder Options" option.

Click on the "View" tab.

Make sure the "Hide extensions for known file types" is unchecked, so you can see the full filenames in Windows XP, including file type associations.

Click "OK" and close the "Folder Options" window.

Right-click on a file you wish to change.

Click on the "Properties" option in the right-click context menu.

Click the "Open with..." button in the "Properties" window. Note that the file may already have a file type association saved for it (it will display the icon of the associated application). Be aware that the button may be captioned "Change..." instead of "Open with...," depending on the version of Windows XP you are using.

Click on an application to choose a different file type association for your selected file type. You may also click "Browse" if the application you wish to use for your new file type association is not listed.

Click "OK" once you have chosen a file type association.


  • check During installation, an application will ask you whether you wish to associate all files of the same type with it. Windows Media Player is a good example, as is WinZip (a file decompression utility). Follow the installation carefully and enable file associations to avoid having to do it later.


  • close Be careful that you don't associate file types with applications that are not capable of running the selected files. Doing so can cause errors until you revert your file associations back to the original form or correct them to the proper association.

Items you will need

More Articles