Open++: put any function you want in the context menu

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Open++ is a free program that allows you to install functions in the Windows’ context menu extension.

You can choose from a number of built-in functions or otherwise use any command line executable to add custom commands that can work on folders, specific file type(s) or both.

If you look at the screenshot for Open++ at first glance you might think that it is yet another utility that installs a handful of functions that we’ve seen many times before in the context menu.

In fact Open++ is much more versatile in that it gives you the ability to add any executable or command line program into the context menu very easily (see screenshot).

Note: if you are interested in the functions that I am using that you see in the screenshot, most are provided courtesy of NirSoft’s wonderful freeware NirCmd which I highly recommend. Here are more notes on Open++:

  • Built-in functions: you can pick and choose from the following: Command Prompt, Copy Path, Run with parameters, Register/Unregister DLLs, Open/Close CD drive, and Set File Time.
  • Configuring new functions: you can add functions very easily, provided you have a command line executable that you want to use in the context menu. You can tell Open++ (a) if you want this executable to appear when right-clicking folders, certain types of file(s), or both; (b) what arguments to use (provides a handy set of variables for use in arguments, see below); (c) the working directory, and (d) you can (optionally) point to an icon file that you want it to use in the context menu.
  • Openxx screenshot - configuration Variables for use in arguments: for items that are being right-clicked, the program can grab the directory, filename, extension, or entire path and that can be used in your command line arguments. It also provides variables that can deliver the same info for the program/executable as well (see screenshot to the right). You can use these variables add anything extra to them that you need, such as quotes before and after for example (see screenshot to the right).
  • Typing ad-hoc arguments: one nice feature that the program provides is the ability to type in the arguments you want in an ad-hoc fashion. Simply check the “prompt for arguments” box in the settings.

Practical uses for this program:

  • Customizing “open with” in the context menu: for example, you can place a number of text editors in the Open++ menu and use any of them at will whenever you click on a text file.
  • Adding frequently used functions to the context menu: you can do this as long as you have the command line executable. Check out NirCmd for a very good collection.
  • Using the context menu as an app launcher: see first screenshot above for an example. You will need to set up duplicate entries for a program if you want it to appear in a launcher-style list in addition to wanting it to kick in when right clicking on certain files.

The verdict: this program is reminiscent of FileMenu Tools, another freeware title that does something similar. And while FileMenu Tools offers more built in functions and may be a bit more versatile in what you can do with it, Open++ just might the easier one of the two to use and configure (and also from a purely subjective perspective feels like it may have a lighter footprint). I’m guessing that those of us who get excited at the prospect of adding all sorts of stuff to the context menu will be very happy about this program.

Version Tested: 1.1

Compatibility: WinAll; no info on Vista.

Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 168K) – or download Open++ from Tucows.