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Skip the Annoying "Use the Web service to find the correct program" Dialog

If you’ve used Windows for any length of time, you’ve likely tried to open a file with an unknown extension. Instead of getting a list of programs to open the file with, you get an annoying dialog asking you to use a web service to find a program. So how do we change this?

You can use a registry hack to force Windows to skip this dialog altogether, and give you a list of applications to use to open the file instead, just as if you had selected the second option.

When you double-click on a file with an unknown extension, Windows presents you with this irritating dialog:

image

If you selected “Select a program from a list of installed programs”, you would get this much more useful dialog instead:

image 

The registry hack will show you the second Open With dialog instead of that irritating first one.

Manual Registry Hack

Open regedit.exe through the start menu search or run box, and then browse down to the following key (create the key if it doesn’t exist)

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

image

Create a new 32-bit DWORD value on the right-hand side with the following values:

  • Name: NoInternetOpenWith
  • Value: 1

The change should be immediate, no need to restart anything. To reset back to default, set the value to 0 or delete the key.

Downloadable Registry Hack for Vista or XP

To apply the registry hack, just double-click on the DisableInternetOpenWith.reg file and enter the information into the registry.

DownloadInternetOpenWith Registry hack for Windows XP / Vista

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/30/08

Comments (23)

  1. timothy

    Wow, that has been bugging me for a while. Great article!

  2. Chris

    On the ball Geek! Very useful. Is there a way to make all unknown filetypes load in notepad on first attempt?

  3. The Geek

    @Chris

    You can use this registry tweak (I’m pretty sure, didn’t test it yet):

    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Unknown\shell]
    @=”notepad”
    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Unknown\shell\notepad]
    @=”Open with Notepad”
    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Unknown\shell\notepad\command]
    @=”C:\\WINDOWS\\NOTEPAD.EXE %1″

    I wouldn’t advise doing that, though… it’s better to just add notepad to the context menu.. You wouldn’t want to open a huge file in notepad by accident because it’s the default.

  4. MrDolomite

    This has been bugging me for years, tyvm!

  5. Marty

    If you want this to apply to all users of the machine, use the registry key above. If you want this to apply to only the current user’s profile (in your logon script for example) then make the change in HKEY_CURRENT_USER:

    reg.exe add “HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer” /v NoInternetOpenWith /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f

  6. Richard

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  7. josh

    I used this right away and exported the key to use on all my new installations, and at home.
    Thanks!

  8. Andi

    Thanks. I posted your hint on my German homepage, and hope it will be useful for others as it was for me.

  9. spling

    Excellent! This is a very nice registry edit. Thanks!

  10. scott

    One of the best tips for Windows. Thanks you.

  11. Michael

    This is amazing, as the dialog was bugging me frequently. I DID get the “web service” to work, though, albeit once. As it turns out, it correctly associated a .doc file with Microsoft Word. Now there’s genius.

    Thanks again!

  12. Fird

    Awesome tip – saves my time!

    Thanks again!

  13. Arvin Bautista

    Thank you so much! I love that you offer the .reg file to install these things super quick!

  14. Phoenix2Life

    Thanks, this is a great tip about the web service selection dialogue. Finally I can avoid to receive it. :D)

  15. Houser

    Thanks. I already had that fix in my pc but I had forgotten how to set it.

  16. John

    Sorry, but I followed your steps and my Regedit HK_ subdirectories don’t reflect the same as what you indicate in your steps. I have Vista Home Premium 2007

  17. Spacegold

    Good one, Geek. Another pint of warm maple syrup down the drain.

  18. Bryce

    How do I get Vista File Explorer to behave like XP?

    What I want to do is navigate the left hand pane using the keyboard (eg. using the arrow keys to move up and down the list, or move directly to the “Documents” folder by pressing “d”), and have the right hand pane IMMEDIATELY display a list of files in the folder – WITHOUT having to press [Enter] first.

    Apart from this, I’m happy with Vista…

  19. gxg

    Any way to do this on Windows 7? That registry branch is no longer available….

  20. Tim

    Thanks! Finally got this bugger out of the way!

  21. Eagles

    > Any way to do this on Windows 7? That registry branch is no longer available….
    >

    It *is* available. Just applied it myself on W7 and it worked okay! Finally got rid of the window that has been harassing me for long time.

    B.t.w. adding it to HKEY_CURRENT_USER (as there it wasn’t present yet) did not work, changing the one in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE (as there it *was* already present, with default “0”) did do the job.

    Probably the HLM value of 0 was overriding the HCU of 1?!? Anyhow, it works now though now all users will have the setting instead of me alone.

  22. vde

    A big thank you :_)
    I’ve been looking for such a solution for a while :_)

  23. deviant2

    @chris > @The Geek – March 30, 2008 7:48 pm

    how about all file types ? usually open with “some antivirus” or scan with antivirus ? i want to add all file types (NOT AS DEFAULT) open to notepad.exe just like ‘scan with antivirus’

    thank u very much

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