I mistakenly assign Office Outlook to open my .eml files in Windows 7. But, as Outlook do not open such files, I downloaded Live Mail, but now I can not assign it to open this kind of file by default.

I've tried running Explorer as Administrator, not to avail.

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8 Answers 8


Windows Vista and Windows 7's file type management facilities are half-baked at best. I never understood why Microsoft crippled that part of the OS when they released Vista. They added limitations that make absolutely no sense.

You might want to try to use alternatives listed in my previous question on the matter:

What program do you use to edit file associations in Vista and Windows 7?

The program that stood out was Default Programs Editor which is free and will allow you do pretty much whatever you wish to do.


  • This is amazing: Using "Default program Settings" gives me the error "The default programs association for some extensions could not be saved due to a registry permissions issue. This could be a result of a previous tweaks by other programs to your settings" (doh!) Sep 1, 2009 at 14:59
  • Using "File type settings" and trying to delete the extension crash the program (I think due to permissions also) Sep 1, 2009 at 14:59
  • Note that I'm running the program as Administrator Sep 1, 2009 at 15:00
  • 3
    Yahoo!! Using "File type settings" and editing the "Open" context menu solved the problem!! Sep 1, 2009 at 15:03
  • 1
    I guess the permissions in the registry were messed up majorly. Sep 1, 2009 at 15:08

My answer relates to a similar, but not the same, problem, where I can't associate a file extension with a program with the same name of a deleted program previously used for this extension, when the new program is located in a different path. Nonetheless, this should be relevant to your case.

As others have noted, broken registry entries explain this behavior. I used CCleaner to get rid of the erroneous entry after I tried and failed to get rid of it by myself. This seems to happen when a program used to open a specific file type is deleted and you try to associate this file type with another program with the same name installed elsewhere. When this happens, Windows gets confused about the program used to open it, and the system can't associate the file extension with the new program.

You may want to look at this answer for more information and some cautions on registry cleaners including CCleaner.


To change an extension to not be opened by any program:

  1. Create a text file with a line of gibberish in it.
  2. Save to your desktop with the .txt extension.
  3. In Control Panel, go to the extension for which you want to remove the default association.
  4. Assign the above text file to be the default program for that extension.
  5. Close Control Panel.
  6. Go back to the text file and delete it.

The extension that was associated with this text file in step 4 will now show it is associated with an "unknown" program.


An old question, but had the same problem and this simple tool fixed it for me. Simply select the extension and click on "Delete file type". After that, the option was no longer greyed out. http://www.winhelponline.com/articles/231/1/An-Utility-to-Unassociate-File-Types-in-Windows-7-and-Vista.html


you may use the File Type Doctor which is part of the Creative Element Power Tools to fix this.

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Since the registry entry may be botched, another way to fix this might be to run a registry cleaner (I used Eusing Free Registry Cleaner) that will detect an invalid entry and delete it. Afterwards, you can try again to associate the extension the normal way. This worked for me, after I had switched from a portable to a system installation, and the registry still pointed to the portable installation.


Is "NoFileAssociate" set to 0?

From KB555076:

  1. Go to "Start" -> "Run".
  2. Write "Regedit" and press on "Enter" button.
  3. Navigate to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\Explorer
  4. In the right side of the screen double click on "NoFileAssociate".
  5. Change the value of "NoFileAssociate" from 1 to 0.
  6. Close "Regedit".
  7. Reboot the server.
  • There is no key, and adding it makes no difference Sep 1, 2009 at 14:48

Let me share a related experience with my Win7 PC. My PC had two email clients installed Lotus notes and Outlook 2013. Had set outlook as the default to open all email related extensions such as .eml, .msg, .vcf, .vcs etc. However .eml files were not opening when i double clicked on a file with .eml extension. Had to use the "open with" option to open such files in outlook. Hence i went to control panel - "Set default programs" - "Outlook"- "choose defaults for this program"- and checked the .eml option. However on going back the check box for .eml files had cleared itself.

Solution: Found the below reg key [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts.eml] Deleted the .eml key. Double clicked the .eml file and it opened in outlook , also the .eml option got checked in "Set default programs" for outlook in control panel.

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