October 7, 2004 7:32 PM   Subscribe

Rencently I installed something that decided to associate a bunch of common file extensions with it. This re-brought to my attention a problem that has plagued me for quite some time:every time I try to modify what programs are associated with a given extension the I am unable to. Example: say I'm browsing a directory using Explorer. I notice that .tif files are no longer associated with photoshop. I right-click and select Open With>Chose Program. The task hangs. The same thing happens when I view file properties:
Type of file: $filetype
Opens with: $someapp ........ CHANGE...
If I click CHANGE, the properties dialog "is no longer responding". Lastly, trying to change the default file associations by going to: Settings>Control Panal>Folder Options>File Types>
results in that applet freezing. HELP

yeah, I know I can't spell
posted by Grod to Computers & Internet (28 answers total)
Shoot me, because I say:

Get. a. Mac.

These problems? They don't exist.
posted by baltimore at 8:04 PM on October 7, 2004

baltimore, there is nothing I would like more. If you would like to buy me a mac, that would be wonderful and I would be forever in your debt. The fact is this is a 3+ year old laptop and the only computer I am going to have for at least another couple years unless someone decides to give me one, a highly improbable eventuality. I often have trouble paying for rent and food, I can't buy a new computer, especially not a nice mac. So, does anyone have any useful advice?
posted by Grod at 8:09 PM on October 7, 2004

Sorry to be obvious, but have you run an antivirus and antispyware apps?
Also, what windows are you running? If XP, what SP, etc.
Good burn, re: baltimore's moronic comment.
posted by signal at 8:21 PM on October 7, 2004

Also , what did you install (that changed the associations)?
posted by signal at 8:25 PM on October 7, 2004

Have you tried Tools->Folder Options->File Types? does that hang too. I've got a lot of apps on one of my boxes (mp3 stuff) and the open with box takes a while.

I've been on the receiving end of mac stuff once or twice. Binhex and stuffit in email arn't nice. Playing with four character filetype ID's with filetyper in '95 wasn't fun either.
posted by Flat Feet Pete at 8:32 PM on October 7, 2004

I run F-Prot Antivirus. I run Spybot S&D. I use Firefox. I have a firewall. The problem is that it is an old computer running a shit OS (WinME) and I don't have the resources to back everything up and do a clean install of win 2000. The registry is a mess but I can't risk a clean install so I'm hoping there is some middle ground. This machine has to last me another year and probably two (unless baltimore feels like giving me a birthday gift (Oct 23, and I'm in Baltimore)), so I'm hoping someone has a solution that, while non-optimal, will at least keep things going for a while longer.
posted by Grod at 8:32 PM on October 7, 2004

signal all sorts of things, but most recently some efax viewer application.
flat feet pete, in winME it is Control Panel ->Folder Options -> File Types. That tab opens and eventually loads the list of extensions. It only hangs when I try to change the "opens with" association.
posted by Grod at 8:36 PM on October 7, 2004

It's possible that the registry keys that information is associated with are corrupt. I'd try to run some registry-fixing application (I've never used one, and as such, have none to recommend). Try using regmon to see what it's trying to access if possible.
posted by j.edwards at 8:41 PM on October 7, 2004

is there anyone out there in mac land that understands some of us would really, honestly, rather not use a mac? i mean, aside from the shinier prettyness of the OS graphics and the case it lives in, i'm not in any way tempted. i don't want to pay more for hardware/software and i know how to make windows do what i want. (generally.) yes i know you love your mac - but stop yelling "get a horse" every time anyone says "my car won't go". it gets annoying. and these days there really isn't anything you can do on a mac that you can't do on windows... but try to find the latest PC game for your mac. ha. you get the pleasure of waiting a year or so before a buggy port is released.

grod, your registry is probably skanked. you can either kill your user.dat file (effectively erasing quite a bit of your registry) or find someone with the same OS and the settings you want, export the file type tree from regedit, and import the resulting .reg file into your machine.

importing will help overwrite some of the issues, and by starting to work backwards (uninstall programs, one at a time, until it gets fixed) you can help figure out what caused the problem. you can also run regedit and manually do a search-and-destroy run through to find and kill unused or unneeded entries. (do a reg backup first, of course.) i generally eliminate extra entries once in a while; uninstall programs often leave remnants.

you can hack HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT to edit manually all the file-type associations, but it's pretty tedious. i'd only do it as a last chance effort. re-installing the program you wish to associate with filetype X is also perhaps an option...

side note.

i really dislike programs that steal all the file types without asking (windows media player 9 was awful - you ask it not to register itself to run anything, and it does it anyway... sigh) but at least XP makes it easier to manage file types. adobe software in my opinion is too nice about it - i love programs that have a "monitor and re-claim file types" feature. every time some godawful crap program tries to become the default for opening image files, i have to manually re-set it to photoshop. really wish adobe would start to include some sort of post-installation extension manager for their software... as it is i do every install in "custom" mode just to have some modicum of control over my own damn computer. oh well.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:48 PM on October 7, 2004

Also... I don't know if this is in ME (it's in 2k/XP), but there's a command line program called assoc that will change filetype associations. See if that exists as well.
posted by j.edwards at 9:11 PM on October 7, 2004

Grod, interestingly enough I had the exact same issue on my old PII-300 laptop running WinME. I do not remember when it started, but I did use j2 (which is part of efax and uses the efax viewer). My guess is that the viewer is the culprit. Unfortunately, I never was diligent enough to resolve the file type association issue, but it certainly sounds like live frogs is on the right track. My solution was Right Click>Open with...
posted by samuelad at 9:16 PM on October 7, 2004

frogs, it's more like people are saying "my horse isn't fast enough, and I get wet when it rains, and it only carries one or maybe two people, and it craps everywhere" and we say "how about a nice car? it has none of those problems" and they say "but I already know how to ride a horse, why must you car people be so annoying?"
posted by nicwolff at 10:01 PM on October 7, 2004

I realize that it's not actually *fixing* the problem, but you could try WAssociate to fix up the associations. I use it sometimes and it's useful.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 10:17 PM on October 7, 2004

Get. a. Mac.

These problems? They don't exist.

whatever. can't tell you how many times my prefs got trashed and the mac wouldn't recognize WHAT THE HELL a file was. And guess what? No fix, and no way to even GO ABOUT IT -- no simple "right click/always open with" options. No, the best suggestions I got were "Try reinstalling the software that opens it. Try rebuilding your desktop. Try reinstalling the OS". Both platforms have their share of problems.

posted by fishfucker at 1:07 AM on October 8, 2004

hope that didn't sound too pissy. if it did, i apologize.

posted by fishfucker at 1:24 AM on October 8, 2004

Before I upgraded to XP a fortnight ago, I could install Firefox extensions, no problem. Now, I want my Bugmenot back - and .xpi files do nothing when clicked. It seems like .xpi files have caused others some probs, but I haven't found a solution yet. Tools>Folder Options>File Types I used, and associated .xpi with FireFox: no good.

Anyone got any clues?
posted by dash_slot- at 1:39 AM on October 8, 2004

just a guess - I install .xpi's on FireFox/WXP no problem.
The latest FireFox version has a built in, er, feature that doesn't allow software to automatically install from websites. You should see a band at the top of the browser informing you that FireFox blocked the page from installing something. Yes - even the extension download sites are blocked by default. If that's it, just right-click the band and check "allow this site to install software."
posted by sixdifferentways at 2:05 AM on October 8, 2004

Oh - and since you mention the BugMeNot extension - it's kind of tricky now. It only works when you right-click inside the actual form, not just anywhere on the page :)
posted by sixdifferentways at 2:07 AM on October 8, 2004

actually nicwolff it's probably much more akin to i buy a domestic model car (not so stylish, sometimes awful mileage, not so great a warranty) while you buy a foreign model (better milage, longer warranty, sleeker design). we both get where we need to go, but i pay more for gas, while you pay more for parts, because every service shop in town sells parts for mine, and your more stylish vehicle has to be driven to the one dealer in town who orders parts and makes you pay more for them. you accept that cruise control, while nice, is unneccessary, and i make fun of you for not being able to use it. you do have a nicer stereo though, and i envy it but won't say anything out loud. i accept that my vehicle is more likely to be recalled for safety reasons, will not last as long, but i don't care because i paid less for it than you did for your import. does that about sum up the mac vs. pc debate?
posted by caution live frogs at 5:45 AM on October 8, 2004

Nope, it's not that. I download fine - but then it doesnt launch when instructed to, whether in the Download box or double-clicked on my desktop.
posted by dash_slot- at 5:47 AM on October 8, 2004

dash_slot: Try opening the .xpi with the File > Open menu item in Firefox. That should install it, although I use the linux version so it may differ under windows.
posted by Gamecat at 7:33 AM on October 8, 2004

(OK, the Mac-based portion of this thread is absolutely idiotic, but: actually, fishfucker, in OS X, you *do* right-click a file to select Always Open With... you just have to hold down option when you do it or it's a one time setting. For future reference.)
posted by bcwinters at 7:55 AM on October 8, 2004

Dipsomaniac : That is perfect. True, it doesn't address the root problem, the registry is fubar, but it does give me back control over file associastions and that is enough for me. Thanks!
posted by Grod at 10:30 AM on October 8, 2004

For what it's worth, the registry is most likely not fubar. Applications misbehave, in this case, it sounds like eFax is somehow mangling the Windows shell.

The solution, find the folder that you installed eFax in (most likely C:\Program Files\eFax?), and rename the folder to something (eFax_OLD), and reboot your machine, now try reassociating files.
posted by patrickje at 12:59 PM on October 8, 2004

fishfucker, in OS X, you *do* right-click a file to select Always Open With... you just have to hold down option when you do it or it's a one time setting.

wait, so if I don't hold down option it stays that way, or I'm not allowed to change it unless I hold down option? I'll try this when I get home (my extensions are behaving nicely right now, but you never know).

posted by fishfucker at 1:53 PM on October 8, 2004

I often have trouble paying for rent and food

I realize this isn't the sort of answer you wanted, but if I was suddenly having problems paying for the basics of living, the first thing I'd do is sell any luxury items I had lying around. The computer probably wouldn't be the very first thing to go, but it'd probably go in the second wave, after the TV and stereo. It's something to consider in your situation if the machine is worth anything at all. The longer you keep it, the less it'll be worth if you do need to sell it later.

On the plus side, you definitely won't have any more problems with filename extensions if you get rid of the computer.
posted by kindall at 3:07 PM on October 8, 2004

kindall, the computer is worth about maybe $300. I need it for school, for entertainment, and to develop various computer related skills. I'm not ditching it. Besides, I always find the money for the basics eventually.
posted by Grod at 6:54 PM on October 8, 2004

patrickje , the registry is fubar, has been for ages. This problem has existed for at least a year but it only returned to my attention when I installed the viewer app.
posted by Grod at 6:58 PM on October 8, 2004

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