Fix EXE Files Open in Notepad or Any Other Application

Summary: Double-clicking .exe files opens them in Notepad or any other application.

Did you accidentally use Default Programs or the Open With dialog to associate .exe file types with some application like Notepad, 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.


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.

The reg file resets the following key, which shouldn’t exist for .exe files.


More Information

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


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 Programmatic Identifier such as txtfile, jpegfile etc).

See also: EXE files always open with Notepad or any other application – Fix It for Windows XP

74 thoughts on “Fix EXE Files Open in Notepad or Any Other Application

  1. Thanks so much! Double clicking any .exe was opening a cmd window.
    Deleting FileExts/.exe/UserChoice fixed it.

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