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Windows 7: W7 refuses to let me set file associations. Registry hacks ineffective

12 Jan 2013   #1

LMDE, Win7 x64
W7 refuses to let me set file associations. Registry hacks ineffective

I have mplayer as my primary video player and VLC installed as a backup. I always have to manually set mplayer to play video files by default as it's not an installable program; this is usually no problem and worked fine until yesterday, when I noticed videos were being opened with VLC instead when I doubleclicked them. I went to fix this, and found that not only is the "always open with" option greyed out ticked, but the change doesn't stick.

In order to avoid the usual canned replies I'll mention that I've already Googled and tried several registry hacks, not to mention two applications that are supposed to handle file associations better. Nothing worked. The apps remembered the setting I gave them, but Windows still opened the files with VLC.

This is what happens:

The video I want to play. Notice VLC icon.

Right click, select properties.

Click "change". Notice greyed-out option.

Click "browse", navigate to mplayer, doubleclick on executable.

It appears in the other programs list, but the option is still greyed out.

I click OK and it goes back to the properties page, with no change applied.

I've looked at other files, and this problem is not limited to video/VLC files; I can no longer change any default program. This is a big problem and I have to fix it. How do I do that?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Jan 2013   #2

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

Hello Fallingwater,

Have you already tried this below to restore the default associations of file extensions?

Default File Type Associations - Restore

If you have, then you might consider doing a system restore using a restore point (if available) dated before this happened.

Hope this helps, :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jan 2013   #3

LMDE, Win7 x64

I didn't try those reg files. I have now, and wish I hadn't. The default program has changed to WMP, which I hate with a passion, but the underlying problem hasn't gone away - so I can't switch it back to even VLC without extensive registry hacking - which is in no way an acceptable long-term solution.

Edit: I just tried restoring the association from within VLC, and it doesn't stick there either.

System restore is not an option, for unrelated reasons I won't go into now.

I refuse to believe I need to reinstall the whole OS for something this dumb. There has to be a way to fix it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

14 Jan 2013   #4

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

Well, other than doing a system restore, you might try doing a repair install to avoid doing a clean reinstall of Windows 7.

I would recommend to back up anything that you do not want to lose first to be safe though.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jan 2013   #5

LMDE, Win7 x64


After the nth reboot everything has spontaneously fixed itself. All default programs are changeable again, even those untouched by the reg files.

Uh... everything's good, I guess?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jan 2013   #6

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

You just gotta love it when it fixes itself like that. :)

It wouldn't hurt to do a full scan of your system with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware free just to be safe though.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 W7 refuses to let me set file associations. Registry hacks ineffective

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