Fix: This file doesn’t have an app associated with it [2023 updated]

Fix This file doesn't have an app associated with it

Have you ever encountered the error message “this file doesn’t have an app associated with it”? Well, this is a common problem on Windows 10 / 11 computers and can occur when you are trying to open or run certain files.

In this blog post, we will explore what causes this error message and how you can troubleshoot it.

What does the error mean?

The error message “This file doesn’t have an app associated with it” is a common one for Windows users. It occurs when there is no compatible application installed on the computer to open a specific type of file, or if the installed software isn’t up-to-date or capable enough to run that file type.

When trying to open certain files in Windows, you may see this error due to missing or corrupted file associationsincorrect default program settingsoutdated or incompatible software, and malware or virus infections.

For example, if you accidentally change a video from .mp4 format into .xyz but don’t have an appropriate program installed that reads .xyz formats – you’ll encounter this pesky alert.

The same applies if your operating system becomes corrupted after a malware attack and confuses which program should handle the files automatically; in both cases, the cause of the problem lies within your device setup rather than with the files themselves.

Fortunately troubleshooting steps exist for resolving such issues – from reinstalling or updating associated programs through cleaning out temporary files and running scans for viruses/malware purposes too!

Common Causes

Missing Or Corrupted File Associations

File associations are the links that tell your computer which program or application is used to open a specific file type. They tell the operating system how to handle files with certain extensions.

Common problems that can lead to this error include missing software components, wrong default program settings, outdated applicationsmalware infections, and more.

Troubleshooting steps for resolving this error involve reinstalling or updating the associated program, changing any incorrect default program settings and repairing/restoring any corrupted file association.

Incorrect Default Program Settings

One of the most common causes of problems associated with opening a file is incorrect default program settings.

When you try to open a file, Windows will check what app or programs are set as the default, and if none can open the particular type of file, an error message may appear.

To ensure your files open properly, it’s important to make sure all the correct default app associations are in place.

This means setting up every kind of media—audio, video, and documents such as Word or PDFs—to always open with its compatible application rather than having Windows decide which one should be used each time.

If users think they have set their preferences correctly but still can’t get certain files to open properly then they might need to reset their program settings back to their defaults.

Outdated Or Incompatible Software

Some applications and programs are only compatible with specific versions so switching to newer ones may mean they won’t work anymore unless you update them first.

Malware Or Virus Infections

Malware and virus infections are common causes of this error.

Malicious programs such as malware or viruses can damage file associations or disrupt Windows from finding a compatible app to open specific files, resulting in this error message.

This means that instead of opening with an expected program, either nothing will happen when double-clicked or Windows may display the aforementioned error.

Steps to fix the error

1. Reinstalling Or Updating The Associated Program

A common way to troubleshoot this error message is to reinstall or update the associated program.

This generally solves the problem if the app is corrupted or outdated, as it refreshes system preferences and restores its file associations.

Here’s how you can reinstall or update an affiliated application:

  1. Open the Windows Start menu and go to Settings > Apps > Apps & Features section.
  2. Select the associated program from a list of applications installed on your device and then click Uninstall/Change (or click Advanced Options).
  3. Choose Repair to reinstall the application without deleting settings or Remove to uninstall it completely and start again with the installation process from scratch (this can be useful for certain apps when their registry gets corrupted).
  4. Depending on what you chose, follow prompts for further instructions – choose different sources, folders, etc., and press Next until the installation completes successfully.

2. Changing Default Program Settings

Changing the program settings can ensure that Windows knows which application should open the chosen file type:

  1. Right-click the file, select Properties, and go to the General tab.
  2. Check the File Type in the Description section. This will provide a clue as to which application should be used to open it.
  3. If you have an application installed on your PC that can open this file type, locate and select it from the list of programs provided
  4. Alternatively, if you don’t have any apps installed that can open the file format, search for Windows apps that run files in that format and download them before setting them as default
  5. Click the ‘Set as Default’ button once you choose your preferred app; at this point, all files of this type will now be opened using it
  6. If the app you want is already selected but then the error re-appears, there may be a problem with corrupt applications or its cache; either update or reinstall it to fix such issues or set another app as a default
  7. Don’t forget to click on OK once changes are complete
  8. Ensure that specific types of files are opening correctly by double-clicking them; if they don’t work even though your settings have been updated – read other tips in this article or refer to software help documentation to resolve associated problems

3. Repairing Or Restoring File Associations

  1. Right-click the problematic file and select Properties. Under General, check for the File Type section which will tell you what type of data that’s stored in the file.
  2. Ensure you have a compatible application installed on your computer capable of opening those types of files. If not, download one from Windows Store or another reliable source online and install it on your device.
  3. When you’ve got a compatible program successfully installed, open up Control Panel from either Start Menu or Cortana Search Box by typing ‘Control’. Go to Default Programs > Set Associations and find your troublesome file type in the list; make sure its current default program has been selected properly under the Current Default column as well as always use this app option box being enabled (if available).
  4. Click the Save button.

4. Scanning For Malware Or Viruses

Running a scan should be one of the primary steps in troubleshooting the issue. 

This can help ensure that any malicious software on your computer is identified before further complications occur.

Additionally, certain types of malware can interfere with system preferences and settings which could lead to errors when trying to open files. 

5. Clearing Temporary Files

To access the folder containing your temporary internet and system files, you must first open Run Dialog (Press Win + R). Once opened type ‘%temp%’ in the text box and then hit Enter. Now all of the temporary folders will come up in the File Explorer window for you to delete them.

After choosing to Select All from the context options Delete them by right-clicking the option ‘Delete’. Or if you want to manually select each item then Ctrl+A > Right Click > delete should be done at this step.

6. Resetting System Preferences

To reset system preferences, you will need to follow a few simple steps:

  1. Open Settings by using Windows key+I or typing “Settings” into Cortana.
  2. Select System and then select Apps & Features.
  3. Under Default apps, click on Choose default apps by file type and choose the program you want to use as your default for opening files from its list of options.
  4. Selecting Use this app for all files helps prevent errors related to compatibility when there are multiple programs available to open a particular file type.
  5. You may also be able to set or customize which programs open when clicking on specific web links on websites like email, and hyperlinks, etc., directly changing settings in Internet Options is also possible within Control Panel under Programs > Default Programs > Set Program Access & Computer Defaults – providing access rights and control over what Apps are used as defaults resulting in an improved run-time performance with fewer Error messages. 

7. Running System File Checker

  1. Start by pressing the Windows logo + X keys simultaneously right-clicking on the start menu and select ‘Windows PowerShell (Admin)’
  2. In the PowerShell window, type ‘sfc /scannow’ (without quotes) to perform a full system scan to detect any corrupt system files
  3. The System File Checker will now automatically check all the protected system files and replace any corrupt or missing ones with good versions from the Windows image backup
  4. Once complete, the results of the scan will be displayed in a new window and any error messages about corrupted or missing files will appear in a list
  5. If desired, you also can access these results by typing ‘findstr /c: “[SR]” %windir%\logs\cbs\cbs.log >sfc_errors_and_fixes” > sfcdetails.txt’ into PowerShell
  6. This will copy all errors recorded by sfc into a txt file named sfcdetails that can be read using Notepad, including their fixes
  7. After resolving any reported problems with corrupt or missing files, restart your computer for changes to take effect and check if the error message “this file doesn’t have an app associated with it” no longer appears

8. Performing A Clean Boot

A clean boot starts Windows with the most minimal set of drivers and processes, which helps determine if any third-party applications or services are causing issues. To perform a clean boot, follow these steps:

  1. Press the “Windows + R” keys to open the Run window.
  2. Type “msconfig” in the search box and press enter.
  3. In System Configuration, navigate to the Services tab and check the box next to “Hide All Microsoft Services”, and then click “Disable all” at the bottom left corner of the dialogue box.
  4. Go to the Startup tab and select the open Task Manager link from the top right corner of the dialogue box or directly type “taskmgr” in the search bar and hit enter.
  5. Select all items listed under the Startup tab in the task manager one by one and Disable them using disable button given in the bottom right corner of the task manager dialogue box.
  6. Close System Configuration & reboot your PC for changes effect to take place i.e for performing a Clean Boot.
  7. When restarted, Windows will start with “Selective startup” where only essential system processes & drivers are running. The benefit of performing a clean boot is that it allows you to find out which 3rd party services or applications are causing conflicts with your file associations settings.

9. Ensure You Have An App Installed That Can Open The File

Having the right app installed to open a specific file can make all the difference when you encounter an error.

To ensure this doesn’t happen and you can open your files, first check if you have any software installed that can open files in that format.

It’s important to know how to determine what type of file it is; simply right-click on the file, select Properties from the context menu, then navigate to its General tab for such information.

Search for Windows apps capable of opening these types of files so your computer has something “associated” with them down the road – once installed, set this compatible application as the default opener for files.

10. Check For Specific File Issues

When you encounter the message another step to take is to check the specific file that won’t open.

On Windows, right-click on the unknown file and select Properties from the dropdown menu.

The General tab displays a variety of information about your selected file, including its type and size.

If the format isn’t immediately recognizable or familiar to you, make sure there is an appropriate app installed on your computer capable of opening such files–otherwise uninstall unnecessary applications AND download Windows apps specifically designed to work with these kinds of documents.

For example, pdfs may require Adobe Acrobat while PowerPoint presentations need Microsoft Office – ensure both programs are installed before trying again!

To set incompatible apps as default programs for certain types of files, press Win Key + R then enter “default” in the Run box – this will launch the Default Programs window where users can control their system settings more carefully so nothing gets opened by unexpected software.

11. Open The File Via File Explorer

Opening the file with File Explorer can be a quick fix when it’s only a single file that has this issue. To open a file through this method, start by finding and locating it on your computer.

Right-click on its icon and select ‘Open with’. From here, you’ll see various programs listed in addition to an option saying ‘Choose another app.’ Selecting that will bring up all of your installed applications that are compatible with this type of file so pick one from there.

12. Open The File With A Different App

Users can try to open the file with a different app instead.

First, they should determine what type of file it is and make sure that they have at least one app installed on their computer capable of opening files in that format.

To double-check this, right-click on the file and select Properties from the menu. Then, switch to the General tab so users can view information about the particular file’s format.

If users don’t recognize or know how to open a certain file type, they should search for Windows apps capable of running files with that same extension and download them onto their devices.

Once this is done, check if there’s an option in Settings to set any downloaded app as default for opening all similar files later on; making sure to set it as default can also help resolve any lingering issues when trying to open other types of documents going forward too.

13. Repair Corrupted System Files

To repair corrupted system files, start by running the Windows File and Folder Troubleshooter. This utility searches for issues that can prevent you from connecting to or working with files and folders. Once it has finished scanning, use the Fix Now option to repair any detected issues.

Here are the steps involved in using this troubleshooter:

  1. Open Settings on your computer using the Start menu.
  2. Click on ‘Update & Security’ and then select the tab that says ‘Troubleshoot’ from the sidebar at the left side of the screen.
  3. Scroll down until you find ‘File Explorer’ then click it once to select it and hit ‘Run The Troubleshooter.’
  4. Follow all instructions provided by the troubleshooting wizard until it finishes identifying what caused your issue with the app-file association error message “This File Doesn’t Have an App Associated With It”.
  5.  If specific problems are found wait for them to get fixed automatically by Troubleshooting Wizard – otherwise move on to the next solution options suggested in this article if needed!

If this doesn’t solve your problem, consider resetting your system preferences – open System Preferences, select the Reset button, and choose either Reset all Settings or Reset Location & Privacy Settings to restore default settings.

Q: How do I create an association in the default program settings?

A: To create an association in the default program settings, you can search for “default apps” in the Windows search bar, and then click on “Choose default apps by file type”. From there, you can choose the file type in question and select the program you want to use to open it.

Q: What should I do if I’m unable to fix this issue after running the sfc and dism scans?

A: If you’re unable to fix this issue after running the sfc and dism scans, get in touch with a computer technician who will be able to address the issue!

Q: Can I fix “This file doesn’t have an app associated with it for performing this action” through PowerShell?

A: Yes, you can fix “This file doesn’t have an app associated with it for performing this action” through PowerShell by running the following command: “Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register $Env:SystemRoot\WinStore\AppxManifest.xml”.

Q: What does the error message “You’re trying to open a file that is not supported by the application” mean?

A: The error message “You’re trying to open a file that is not supported by the application” typically indicates that the program associated with the file does not support the file extension of the file you’re trying to open.

Q: How can I determine which program to use to open a file that is not associated with any program?

A: You can determine which program to use to open a file that is not associated with any program by using the PowerShell command “Get-AppxPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppxManifest.xml”}”.

This will create a new app association in the registry settings and enable you to open the file with the appropriate program.

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...