Ooh … this one ticked me off. In earlier versions of Windows you could readily add alternative programs to the context (right-click) menu.
In Windows 7 it’s not that easy: it wants to keep your alternatives all under the “Open With” submenu.* It’s especially problematic if you’ve already established a default program for that file type.
Why did this present a problem for me? PDF files.
Of course, Adobe sucks. But, I do need it once in a while for serious PDF file use, so it’s OK to keep it under the “Open With” submenu.
And my default PDF viewer is currently Sumatra PDF. I click a PDF file, and this is what opens up. On the context menu, it’s the top/default choice.
But what if I want a basic PDF editor? In my case, I’d like PDF-XChange Viewer available and I’d like to save a click or two.
How do I get it to show up near the top of my context menu?
It’s not that hard, but it isn’t straightforward. I figured it out by modifying the third post by user BluePlateSpecial in this thread.
- Click Windows/Start (the big one on your desktop with the Microsoft banner on it).
- Open the registry (say, by typing “regedit” in the Search Programs and Files box)
- Click on HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT on the left
In older versions of Windows, at this point you’d just look for the file extension you wanted to change (or even more easily, you’d just modify the file type in Windows Explorer). Not any more.
Now, when you establish a default program for a file type, it adds an additional registry entry further down in that list of file types. As a matter of fact, if you scroll down that list of file types, once you get past the .zzz entry, it starts over at A with another list.
- Scroll down to Applications, and double-click to open it
- Look for your default program on this list, and double-click to open it.
- Right-click “Shell”, then click “New”, then click “Key”.
- Name this key after the action you want to take (in my case, “Edit with PDF-XChange Viewer).
- Now right-click this new key, and again click “New” and then “Key”.
- Name this subkey “Command”.
- In the pane on the right, right-click “Default”, and click “Modify”
- Enter your full path to the executable you want to run (put it inside double quotes to save yourself headaches). Put a space after it, and then “%1” (you must type those double quotes). It looks like this:
Click here for a bigger image.
Enjoy the new option you’ve just made for yourself.
* It’s pretty easy in Windows 7 to add an option to the context menu that applies to all files. But this will ultimately clutter things up.