Did you accidentally use Default Programs or the Open With dialog to associate .exe file types with some application, causing every program to open in that chosen application? Windows provides no option to reset the .exe file associations, and you’ll have to do this manually. For example, one of our readers accidentally associated executable files using Notepad, and this caused Notepad to open every time when a program was launched.

When you use the Open With dialog to associate .exe files with another application, the settings are stored in the following registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ FileExts \ .exe \ UserChoice

There will be a value named Progid in the right pane. The Progid data will contain the application’s exe file name (Applications\Notepad.exe, Applications\IExplore.exe, or a Programatic Identifier such as txtfile, jpegfile etc).

Note that despite this problem, you should be able to launch applications by double-clicking on the data files. For example, with the above setting, you should be able to launch Microsoft Word application by double-clicking on a .doc file, but not by running Winword.exe directly.)


You need to delete the UserChoice key above using a REG file or a script. Download exefix_cu.reg, and save it to Desktop. Right-click on the REG file and choose Merge.

(Hint: To undo the Open With setting for other file types, the registry location is the same. Replace the text .exe in the above registry path with the actual file extension.)


HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ FileExts \ .xyz \ UserChoice

Where .xyz is the file extension for which you want to undo the Open With action.

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  1. Loretta
    said this on Tuesday, July 28th 2015 5:03 am

    This totally worked for my little guys laptop. He is a very happy boy. Thank you so much for the help……

  2. Aiden G.
    said this on Thursday, May 28th 2015 11:33 am

    Thank you so much! My laptop is working again! My situation was especially nasty, as I accidentally set file exlporer to open .exe, so I was finally able to copy the registry editor to a USB and luckily file explorer still worked so I was able to open it.

  3. Alaa
    said this on Wednesday, May 27th 2015 8:08 pm

    Thank you so much man , i really appreciate your help :)

  4. Nelli L.
    said this on Friday, May 22nd 2015 12:41 am

    It actually worked! Thank you!!! :-)

  5. Ron c
    said this on Monday, May 4th 2015 8:50 pm

    JUst did this because I am using Windows in a foregin language. Don’t know why the association got redirected, but thanks so much for this quick fix!!

  6. 31jarey
    said this on Sunday, May 3rd 2015 6:35 am

    I have this problem but I can’t open IE. I am typing this on my phone.

  7. Filipe
    said this on Wednesday, April 29th 2015 2:47 am

    Man!!! I had this problem in the last year and now I fixed it!!

    Thank you very much!!!

  8. said this on Wednesday, April 22nd 2015 10:00 pm

    @Art: Right-click on the link and choose “save target as” (or equivalent option) in your browser.

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