I inadvertently set the Registry Editor to be the default editor for *.txt files. Now when I go to change the default, "Always use this program to open these files" is grayed out. This is the case whether I right click on the file and choose "Open with...", or start with the "Set Default Programs" control panel.

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Why? How can I fix this?

  • 1
    Is it grayed out just for notepad, or for all programs?
    – nhinkle
    Jun 17, 2010 at 6:20
  • 1
    It's grayed out for all programs. Jun 18, 2010 at 19:14

5 Answers 5


I came across this problem again, but in this case the file association fixer tool suggested by @Moab didn't work because it only handles a handful of common extensions, and the extension I was having trouble with (.ahk) isn't included.

I did some more digging and found a general solution using regedit; this did the trick for me.

  1. Open regedit
  2. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts
  3. Find your extension
  4. Delete the UserChoice key
  • 1
    Thank you!! Now I just wonder how the heck this happend in the first place.
    – thnee
    Jul 19, 2013 at 20:08
  • This happened for me just after using mplayer to open a file of the same type. Might be a coincidence though.
    – persiflage
    Jul 4, 2014 at 11:43
  • Thanks for your help! :) In my case, the problem occurs with WinZip. And you know what? The checkbox came to gray immediately after installing WinZip and the default program is now WinZip to handle .zip files. That mean WinZip is changing the default program without asking me and worst, they change the registry key to prevent user changing the default program to handle zip file. With your help, it's fine; I will be able to rollback this behavior but for people like my mother, no way she will be able to understand what's happening and she will stay with /"$/$/%%% WinZip!
    – Samuel
    Sep 16, 2015 at 14:15
  • Right. Mplayer! I had this issue with avs files. Every time I delete the key it works fine for all other apps until i once again associate it with mplayer and bang, grayed out again! I don't mind using mplayer except that as soon as I do I can no longer associate that file type with anything else any more. Even my usual media players.
    – Octopus
    Jan 13, 2016 at 7:22

Assuming you are logged in as Admin, first thing to check is the Windows Registry.

  1. Open Registry Editor (Start > Run > regedit) and navigate to


  2. In the right side of the screen double click on "NoFileAssociate".

  3. Change the value of "NoFileAssociate" from 1 to 0.

  4. Now navigate to


  5. Repeat steps 2 and 3.

  6. Close "regedit" and reboot your machine.

If the above procedure doesn't work for you (or if you already have "NoFileAssociate" values as 0), reboot in safe mode and change a filetype to be opened with a default program (or right-click and select "open with" for that file type, and check if the box is still grayed out or not) and hit OK. In the next reboot, the issue should be fixed.

  • Neither of those entries are found in Windows 10 Pro (Build 1511).
    – Ray Foss
    Jun 30, 2016 at 13:06

In case anybody is still having this issue, it's worth checking if you have the File Association Helper installed. It's included as a part of the WinZip package and overrides the default settings for how you deal with files, resulting in the greyed out "always use this program" box. Just uninstall it and it will go back to normal.

  • Uninstall WinZip? Great idea! It really sucks!
    – Octopus
    Jan 13, 2016 at 7:25
  • That worked!!!!!
    – DarthRubik
    Jul 25, 2016 at 14:43

Use this file association fixer tool




Check If you've unticked the hide file extensions for known file types In the folder options. You may have this unticked and when renaming a file you also removed Its extension.If you know the file type and add the extension (eg .doc for word) the option shouldn't be greyed out anymore.

  • Having an unknown extension doesn't do what you say. Try opening a command line, go to your desktop folder and do echo rats > rats.rats. Now go to your desktop and double click. Nov 24, 2012 at 20:14

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