Windows – How to add a program to the context menu of all files

context menuwindows 7windows xpwindows-explorerwindows-vista

Similar to the way Notepad++ adds "Edit with Notepad++" to the context menu of all files, or how most Antivirus products will add a global "Scan this file" option, I would like to add a particular program to the context menu for all file types.

Thanks to DOSBox, I'm a little familiar with manually creating file associations and creating context menu options for specific file types.

However, I've got one program I'd like to add as a context menu globally because it can be used with files that have almost any extension. What registry keys do I need to modify for this, and what common pitfalls should I avoid in order to not break things here?

I'd rather do this manually, so that I'm intimately familiar with what changes I'm making to the system, rather than use a third-party tool. The OS I'm doing this on is Windows 7 x64, but it would be great if the same method could be used all the way back to XP. I can probably figure out the necessary command syntax myself – I just need to know which keys to go after and how to format the commands and labels to be properly recognized in those keys.

Best Answer

Here is how you do it with an executable, I would assume it could be done with any program.

Open regedit.exe through the start menu search or run box, and then browse down to the following key:


Right-click on “shell” and choose to create a new key, calling it “Open with (your program name)”. Create a new key below that one called “command”. Double-click on the (Default) value in the right-hand pane and enter in the following:

"C:\Folder path where the program resides\Program.exe" "%1"

The change should take effect immediately… just right-click on any file and you’ll see the next menu entry.


. Registry Editor: Creating a key


Registry Editor: Finished file-command

Source of Information (sort of)

. [Note: Article-comments report author's method works for Vista; and also XP. - Ed.]