Advanced File Association Management And Editing Tools For Window Vista

Microsoft has trimmed down the version of file association management tool in Windows Vista which allows you to perform only the basic functions i.e. change and assign an appropriate default program for a particular file type, file extension or protocol.

By setting file associations, you basically set a default action and make the file/ document open correctly using the associated program whenever you open the file/document directly by double-clicking on it, selecting it and pressing the “Enter” key or right-clicking on it and selecting “Open entry” from the context menu.

Windows XP enables you to create, edit and delete actions related to a particular file type or extension and further customize a preferred action such as open, edit etc. (read this post to learn how to change file association in Windows 7 or remove file association in Windows 7) The actions chosen by you are displayed as options in the context menu when you right-click on the file so that you can choose an action of your choice to execute the file.

However, Windows Vista doesn’t allow such customization for file associations and has removed the tab “Folder Type” from the “Folder Options” tool. Vista allows you to change or edit only the default program that is associated with the file types or file extensions.

The file associations are saved and stored in the system registry under the registry branch “HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT”. But the system registry keys are generally defined in OLE, CLSIDs and DDE for different COM handlers and components. This makes the task of manually editing, changing or manipulating the file associations quite complex.

However, there are number of third party utilities which can be used to proficiently edit and manage file associations in Windows Vista. These advanced management/ editing tools can be virtually used to customize and configure anything pertaining to file type associations. Moreover, most of these applications are free of cost (unless specifically mentioned).

Power Tools by Creative Element (File Type Doctor)

Power Tools by Creative Element is a set of productivity tools that support a number of Microsoft Windows Operating systems including Windows Vista, Windows Me, Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Server 2003. One of its powerful utilities is the File Type Doctor.

File Type Doctor enables you to select the option “Edit File Type” by right-clicking on a file so as to modify/ edit the program that is used to launch that particular file type. It also allows you to set default programs, insert or delete file types from the new menu of the Explorer and customize context menus of files.

  1. First and foremost, download the “Power Tools” application from the Creative Element website and install it.
  2. Open the Control Panel of the “Power Tools” application.
  3. Tick the checkbox with the option for editing file type associations and click on “Accept”.
  4. Now right-click on a file with the extension for which you wish to modify the file association and choose the option “Edit File Type” from the context menu. A Window will appear with the title “File Type Doctor”. You can now make the necessary changes or modifications to file associations related to that particular file type or extension.

FileTypes Editor by SAPIEN Technologies, Inc

FileTypes Editor is basically a graphical utility that efficiently manages file type associations in Windows. You can also use it to re-associating improper file associations with the help of PrimalScript which is another useful tool by SAPIEN Technologies, Inc. However, FileTypes Editor allows you to add only two actions “Open” and “Edit”.

[Download FileTypesEditor]

Associate This by Spearit

Associate This is a software program that manages file extensions. It features an Association Monitor that keeps a watch from behind the scenes and protects your system from other software programs that try to change system’s file associations.

It’s “Open Tracker” feature allows you to reopen the last file/document you worked on by using a program or application of your choice. The “Association Detective” feature searches for additional programs on your system which support the file types that you frequently work with.

You can also backup your system’s file associations and restore them back to previous state incase of any system issues using the “Backup and Restore” feature. Apart from these, it also comes with Extension List and Task List features that offer complete information related to file associations.

Spearit offer a free download as a 30-day trial after which you need to but the product for $19.95.

File Type Manager (FTM)

File Type Manager is a utility program for Windows that helps you manage shell extensions, file types and actions. The functionality offered by FTM is much more dominant as compared to built-in Windows tool or other similar programs. Moreover, this is the only program which has an ability of managing shell extensions. It supports 32-bit as well as 64-bit versions of Windows Vista OS.

[Download FTM]


ASHociation is an excellent file association editing tool by Armstrong’s Systems. It locates and reports all file types/ extensions handled by a particular program. It also reports registry file associations.

Though you need to pay $14.95 for the full version, you may use the trial version free of cost. The software will show reminders to register but you may continue to use the trial version. It does not have a time limit. However, some features might be absent in the trial version.

[Download ASHociation]

Directory Opus (DOpus)

Directory Opus is one of the popular file manager programs. DOpus file manager cum explorer acts as a total replacement for your Windows Explorer and various other utility programs by handling ZIP, FTP, viewing images and files, etc. It offers full support for defining and customizing file types in all the latest editions of Windows Operating Systems.

It costs AUD 85.00 if you wish to buy it, but you can take a 60-days trial of the Directory Opus 9.1 evaluation version absolutely free of cost.

[DOpus 32 Bit]

[DOpus64 Bit]