Quick Tip: A registry tweak to make application choices more efficient in Windows

With a simple tweak to the Windows Registry, you can make choosing an application to run an unknown file type much more efficient and a little less annoying.

Every once in a while in Microsoft Windows, you will come across an unknown file type. When you double-click that file, Windows asks you to pick an application to open that file, but only after it first offers to check a web service for potential applications (Figure A). Most of the time, you know exactly which application you'd like to run for the file in question, so the web service dialog box is more annoying than helpful. Note: This Quick Tip is using Windows 7, but the basic principle should apply to both Windows XP and Vista.

Figure A

Windows displays the annoying Use the Web Service to Find the Correct Program dialog box.
Well, with a small tweak to the Windows Registry file, you can permanently skip the Use the Web Service to Find the Correct Program dialog box and get right to the list of potential applications (Figure B) already installed on your system.

Figure B

Here is the list of potential applications.

Stay on top of the latest Microsoft Windows tips and tricks with TechRepublic's Windows Desktop newsletter, delivered every Monday and Thursday.

Registry Edit

Standard disclaimer: The Windows Registry File is vitally important to the proper operation of the Windows operating system. Please back up the file before you make any registry edits. Click on the Start button and type regedit in the search box. Click on the regedit.exe file in the list of items and answer the UAC prompt. Once in the registry editor (Figure C), navigate to this key:


Figure C

Edit this key.
Right-click in the right pane of the editor to create a new 32-bit DWORD value with the name NoInternetOpenWith (Figure D).

Figure D

Create NoInternetOpenWith.
Right-click on NoInternetOpenWith and navigate to the Modify menu item, then enter a value of 1, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

Enter a value of 1.

Close regedit. To restore to the default, just change the value of the NoInternetOpenWith key to zero.

By Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.