“Open File” Windows Tip for Regular Folks

Something that always amazes me in the computer world is how poorly many “computer experts” understand how poorly most regular folks understand common computer tasks.

Today’s tip is how to avoid that incredibly pesky tendency of Windows to open the WRONG PROGRAM when you click on a file.    This is called “file association” and it’s a simple fix:

1.  RIGHT click on the file you are trying to open

2. Select OPEN WITH and then choose the list of PROGRAMS

3. Choose the program you want to use for this.   (you may be stuck here as well if you don’t know the differences between things like MS Word, MS Works, and WordPad, all MS programs that – for reasons that boggle any sane mind –  have always been a huge ambiguous pain in the ass for those of us who have to help other folks figure this out).    Generally I’d say associate Text and .doc documents with MS WordPad, which has saved me many hours of frustration because it’s a simple program.

For fancier word processing consider the free “Open Office” suite which will generally handle Microsoft documents created in MS Word and other programs.    Generally you should know the basic programs you have and when you want to use them.   If you don’t get this, consider asking somebody to step you through the difference between “word processor”, “spreadsheet”, “database”, and “text editor” and tell you which programs you have on your computer for these tasks.

4. Now click the box that says “Always use the selected  program … ”

This problem is related to a very great frustration for many – the poor compatibility of the various  .doc  and .xls  documents people email around without understanding the pain they’ll cause if the person either does not have the program, does not have the right version of the program, or simply has their file associations set differently.

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