Free Opener: opens and views any type of file

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Have you ever encountered files on your computer that you couldn’t open, that you were curious to explore? Or maybe you downloaded a file that you thought would play or open on your computer only to find that it would not open within the program that you thought it would.

Or, more likely, a colleague sent you a file that was created using a newer version of the software you have installed on your machine, etc.

In all of these cases, Free Opener might offer a solution.

This free program is designed to open just about any kind of file you might find on your computer or that you are likely to encounter on the internet. And although it will not open everything under the sun, it supports more than 70+ file formats including all sorts of media files, Office files, PDFs, etc.

Free Opener Screenshot4Free Opener Screenshot5

But note: Free Opener is able to achieve this by installing a host of software on your machine, including system wide media decoders (K-Lite Codec Pack), Adobe Flash ActiveX Object, and MS .NET Framework.

This is the kind of tool that is a must have on any machine, because no matter how technically savvy you are you will invariably run into a file that won’t open that you are curious about, and which Free Opener will open for you on the spot without going out there and hunting for software and getting it installed on your machine. For those who are not technically savvy at all, this can be even more of a life-saver.

Here are some PROS and CONS.

PROS:

  • Supports a great many number of filetypes: from PDF to every conceivable media type to Office formats, etc.
  • Many Office files supported: (e.g DOC/DOCX, XLS/XLSX, CSV, PPTX, PPT, PPS, etc), making it a great option for those who don’t have or want to install a big office suite yet would like the ability to view the occasional document or presentation. Does a great job displaying spreadsheets (without the option to edit, of course).
  • Can actually extract (as opposed to just view) compressed archives: (7z, ZIP, RAR, GZ, TAR, TGZ, and JAR).

CONS:

  • Installs a whole bundle of auxiliary software without asking: including MS .NET Framework, Adobe Flash ActiveX Object, and MS .NET Framework. Incidentally, the K-Lite codec pack will effectively allow you to play any media file with Windows Media Player, with no need for Free Opener.
  • No drag and drop; which is really strange. Dragging a file you want to open and and dropping it on the program interface seems to be such an obvious feature for this kind of app.
  • Ebook formats (MOBI, EPUB, CBZ/CBR, DJVU), are woefully under-represented (excepting PDF). Which is too bad because these files are becoming increasingly more common. Some other filetypes are also strangely missing such as various subtitle files (excepting .SRT).

Wish list: or how this software can be even better

  • A customized installer (and uninstaller): would be great, that lets you choose exactly what auxiliary software, if any, you want and don’t want to install, and gives you the option to ignore support for some file types. For example, I might skip the K-Lite codec pack if I already can play media files on my system, etc.
  • Support for drag and drop: as mentioned above.
  • True portability: a program that can open all of these file types without installing software on your machine, would be quite something.

The verdict: a great little tool that can come in very handy. The best use of this tool is to Keep it installed in case you need to open a certain file type; I would not recommend it as your primary viewing tool for frequently used file types though.

But the fact that it installs software without giving the user a choice is problematic; the program would be so much better if they gave the user control over this at the very least. The program can also be improved by adding more formats and allowing for drag and drop.

Despite its drawbacks, Free Opener is a good effort overall.

[Thanks to reader Carbonize for letting me know about this one]

Version Tested: 1.0

Compatibility: Windows All.

Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 20.3 megs).