Add an online database of programs to your Windows’ “open with” dialog with OpenWith Enhanced

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If you’ve ever encountered a file type that you didn’t know how to open, or if you’ve ever wondered about alternate programs to open a file type other than with the ones on your PC, then check out OpenWith Enhanced.

OpenWith Enchanced is a free program that can put the wisdom of the crowd to work in your Windows context menu; right clicking “open with” on any file will now display program entries that are not installed locally on your machine that other users have reported using to open that file type. It will also show some information on these programs, and can instantly link to the download pages for these.

How it works: using the open-with context menu as you normally would (right clicking “open with”, then default program), now also displays programs that are not installed on your machine in red font. Hovering over these programs displays informational tooltips and double clicking can open the download page in your browser.

OpenWith Enhanced also offers a few additional options, such as the ability to remove the current association and the ability to modify the open-with list so that certain entries are not shown there anymore.

Wish list: What’s freeware? A field visible on the open-with dialog that can inform the user as to which suggested entries are freeware and which aren’t, would be very helpful. As it is, users can transfer to a web page that lists programs and has this information available in it, but not in the dialog itself.

The verdict: a nice little Windows extension that can be useful for beginners or advanced users alike, whether to find out how to open unknown file types or for those curious to have novel options to open file types right at their fingertips.

The handful of other options it provides can also be quite useful: e.g. editing the open-with list, removing current associations (which, to quote the website is “especially handy on WindowsVista

Open With Enhanced Screenshot2

/ Windows7 OS, where such options aren’t available through standard UI”).

The program web site states that OpenWith Enhanced also allows changing the default icon for file extensions, but I personally wasn’t able to figure out how to use this option if it exists at all.

Version Tested: 0.95

Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 (32 bit and 64 bit).

Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 411K).