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Working with File Types and Associations

As you browse the files and folders on your system, you notice that some files have specific icons. These icons enable you know what type the file is. The file type determines more than just the icon, however. It also determines the application that is used to open the file.

Displaying or Hiding File Types

Windows XP can (and does) hide certain types of files—specifically sensitive system files. Because you don't want to accidentally delete or change a system file, hiding these files is probably a good idea.

You may, however, run into a situation where you need to edit one of these system files. If this happens to you, you need to know how to unhide the file.

To unhide all the hidden files on your system, follow these steps:

  1. From the Control Panel, click the Folder Options icon.
  2. When the Folder Options dialog box appears, select the View tab.
  3. Open the Hidden Files and Folders item and check the Show Hidden Files and Folders option.
  4. Click OK to register your changes.

Associating a File Type with an Application

When you install a new application, it usually registers its file types automatically. That is, Windows associates that file type with a specific application. You may also need to reassociate a file type, however, if you install a new program that hijacks the original file associations for itself—and you'd rather go back to the default associations.

To associate a file type with a particular application, follow these steps:

  1. From the Control Panel, click the Folder Options icon.
  2. When the Folder Options dialog box appears, select the File Types tab and click the Change button.
  3. When the Open With dialog box appears, select the application you want to associate with the file type. (If the program you want isn't listed, click the Click Here link to search for and select another program.)
  4. Click OK.

Changing Icons for File Types

Each file type is represented by a specific icon. If you don't like a particular icon, you can easily choose another icon for any file type.

Follow these steps:

  1. From the Control Panel, click the Folder Options icon.
  2. When the Folder Options dialog box appears, select the File Types tab.
  3. Choose the file type you want to change from the Registered File Types list, and then click the Advanced button.
  4. When the Edit File Type dialog box appears, click the Change Icon button.
  5. When the Change Icon dialog box appears (see Figure 3.19 ), select a new icon or click the Browse button to choose an icon from another file.
    03fig19.jpg

    Figure 3.19 Change the icon associated with a particular file type.

  6. Click OK to register your change.

Removing File Types

Sometimes you find file types registered that don't even exist on your system. This can happen after you uninstall a program and its associated files.

To clean up your system by removing unused file types, follow these steps:

  1. From the Control Panel, click the Folder Options icon.
  2. When the Folder Options dialog box appears, select the File Types tab.
  3. Choose the file type you want to remove from the Registered File Types list, and then click the Remove button.
  4. Click OK.
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