How to Restore Default File Extension Type Associations?

When you double click to open a file, you may find that it opens up in an application that you don’t want to use. Below I’ll point out some ways that you can change this, but first I want to explain a little bit about how it all works.

What are File Extensions and File Types?

As you may already know, the last few letters after the dot in a full file name are called the extension. A picture or photo file would often have a name such as family.jpg. In that case, jpg is the extension. You’ll often see music files with the extensions of mp3 or wma. A file type is a group of file extensions. In the above examples, the musicfile type may contain the extensions for mp3, wma and many others.

What are File Associations?

File type associations are settings that control what applications open your files and other ways that Windows interacts with them. The file type associations and protocols can accidentally be changed by installing and un-installing software or virus and malware infections.

How Can I Change File Associations?

Here at Techie-Buzz we’ve previously told you how to change file type associations. See the two following articles if you want to un-associate a file type in Vista or simply want to change the default application.

Un-associate File Types To Use Your Favorite Programs In Windows Vista

Reclaim your files to open in your favorite editor

How Can I Restore Windows Default File Associations?

If you wish to restore the file associations back to what they were when your copy of Windows was brand new, keep reading.

The settings for file associations are stored in the Windows Registry. Editing the registry or merging a .reg file into the registry allows you to change the defaults or restore them.

If nothing else works, the following links will lead to .reg files that can be merged into the registry to restore default behaviors. These are the settings that a new copy of Windows uses before any changes are made to it.

Here are a few of the file extensions that you can restore: avi, bat, bmp, chm, cmd, com, cur, dll, exe, gif, htm, html, ico, inf, jpe, jpeg, jpg, js, lnk, mp3, mpa, mpe, mpeg, mpg, msc, reg, rtf, scr, tif, tiff, txt, vbs, wma, wmv, wsf, xml, xps,   and zip.

Please be sure to read the instructions on these pages. Making changes to your Windows Registry can be hazardous unless you take precautions.

Normally, these .reg files will immediately restore the default behavior of file types. If not, you may have to reboot your PC before you see any changes.

Be sure to comment below if you have problems, questions or different solutions.

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Clif Sipe

Promoting Freeware and Free information since 2004. Owner of with over 2000 pages of freebies. Please subscribe to my Google Feed or follow me on Twitter @clifnotes.