Stump the PC Club is a free tech-advice column written by members of the North Orange County Computer Club, which has been in existence since 1976. Visit the club’s site at noccc.org.
QUESTION: I accidentally changed the default program for .lnk (Desktop shortcut or link) to Adobe Reader. Now, every shortcut tries to open Adobe Reader. How do I get out of this mess?
PC CLUB: I can’t tell which version of Windows you have but here’s some information on Windows 7. To control which program opens when you double-click a file such as a Word document or a JPG (picture), Windows keeps track of which programs you have installed if any. If you haven’t installed any Microsoft Office software and you double-click a Word document, Windows will be a little confused. On the other hand, Windows has built-in software for JPGs and will open the built-in Windows Photo Viewer.
If you have installed a program that you want to be the default for opening a particular file type perform the following steps:
- Open the Control Panel and make sure you select Small or Large icons with the View by drop-down box at the upper right.
- Select Default Programs
- Select Associate a file type or protocol with a program
- Assuming you just installed Adobe Photoshop Elements for working with your pictures, scroll down until you see the .jpg entry
- Click Change program in the upper right
- Select one of the recommended programs or click Browse to select another program
- Click OK
Now, what do you do if you want to change the program that opens when you double-click a .lnk file or shortcut? This requires editing the Windows Registry which I don’t recommend unless you are an expert. However, there’s an easier way. Go to http://bit.ly/fixshortcuts and scroll down to the lnk entry. Click the link to download the file. It will be a Zip file which you can double-click to extract the contents. You will end up with a .reg file which you can double-click to repair the broken lnk entry in the Registry. You may have to OK some on the steps as a precaution.
For Windows XP users, see http://www.dougknox.com/xp/file_assoc.htm.
This Web site allows you to change back to the default for many different file types and has saved my bacon on numerous occasions.
Note: Even though the file name of some of the fixes contain the word Vista, it will work on Windows 7 also. Please read the Web site thoroughly before using.
Ed Schwartz is a member of the North Orange County Computer Club. To send in a question, go to edwardns.com and click the Contact Me menu. Archives of previous columns are also on the website.