How to Fix Windows Vista “Open With” Issue When Opening Programs

After some event you are not sure of, windows might refuse to open your files whenever you try to open them. It cannot find any programs to open the files, so all it can do is bring up a dialog box asking you to “Open with…” In this article, we are going to explain how windows programs function and why this issue arises. We also give simple methods to solve this problem.

Let’s begin by understanding how windows programs work. All files on windows have a program that runs and opens those files for viewing even if you might not have it on your PC yet. The extension determines which program opens it e.g. .doc or .docx are opened by MS Word and .txt or .inf are opened by notepad. What you should know is that whenever you install a program, they not only get copied to the standard ‘program files’ folder. Keys, shortcuts and extensions the program can open are copied to the .exe registry. If you lack the software to open a file on your PC, windows will bring up a pop up dialog box asking you which program to open with. This is because the file you are trying to open has an extension that is not associated with any programs in the registry. This is why just copying a program from another computer to your storage space will not detected the files it opens automatically.

There might be a rare time when everything fails and even the programs you are sure are on your PC, no longer function. The simple reason for this is that the .exe registry has been altered. This might be as a result of several things.

The registry might have been corrupted by a hard disk failure. This could be from power losses, overheating of the drive, or bringing magnets in close contact with your computer.

It could also be a virus or malware affecting the registry. This is why you should always have your antivirus updated regularly. Some virus or malware (usually from shareware and freeware) aim at destroying your registry. Now what you left with is a bunch of programs that are not associated to any file. So whenever you try to open a file, it will ask for the associated program.

Your programs might also stop launching after a virus scan. This is because some viruses had embedded themselves in your registry. After scanning your registry using an antivirus, a big chunk was found to be infected and was quarantined or deleted. All associated file extensions were wiped along with them leaving your computer without knowledge of what opens what.

Sometimes, installing a new and genuine program might upset your registry. The LEXMARK wireless all-in-one has been associated with this problem severally. This could be because of bad input into the registry, which scrambles up the rest of the registry.

Whatever the issue is on your Windows Vista, here are ways to restore the functionality of your computer. All ways are aimed at restoring the health of your registry so that your files can find the programs associated with their extension.

Method 1: Use ExeFix Vista to fix the registry

This will fix your registry by copying in new definitions for your programs.

  1. Download ExeFix .zip file from the here
  2. Open the downloaded .zip file, then extract (drag and drop) the .reg file to the desktop.
  3. Right click on the extracted .reg file and click on Merge.
  4. If prompted, click on Run, Yes (UAC), Yes, and OK.
  5. When done, you can delete the downloaded .zip and .reg files on the desktop if you wish or keep them for future occurrences.
  6. Restart your computer to apply the changes to the registry

Method 2: Uninstall the latest programs before the issue begun

If this problem begins after installing a new program, uninstall it because this might be the issue. If you are not sure which program it is, uninstall all latest programs and any suspicious ones to remove them from the registry. To uninstall a program:

  1. Press Windows/Start Key + R to launch run dialog.
  2. Type appwiz.cpl in the run text box and hit Enter to open Programs and Features.
  3. Double click on the program to uninstall and confirm that you want to uninstall it.
  4. Restart your computer for effect of  uninstalling to take place

Method 3: Restore Windows back to the last time it was functioning normally

Restoring windows to its previous know functioning state will fix your registry. If you regularly back up your PC for restoration, just follow these steps.

  1. Restart your computer and repeatedly tap F8 until you see the Advanced Boot Menu. If you do not see this menu, start over again and repeatedly tap F8 key on your keyboard until you see this. When you see this select Safe Mode with Networking. You will be able to login into safe mode fine.
  2. On the Advanced Boot Menu, select Safe Mode using the arrow keys on your keyboard. Hit Enter to start computer in Safe Mode. The picture below shows Safe Mode only, but you need to select “Safe Mode with Networking”
  3. Go to Start menu > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore
  4. Right-click System Restore and click Run As Administrator.
  5. Choose a day and time prior to your problem and restore to it.

You may lose programs that you installed before that day but your data will be intact.


Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.
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Expert Tip

How to Fix Windows Vista “Open With” Issue When Opening Programs

If the issue is with your Computer or a Laptop you should try using Restoro which can scan the repositories and replace corrupt and missing files. This works in most cases, where the issue is originated due to a system corruption. You can download Restoro by clicking the Download button below.

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