Binary man

EXE-files accidentally associated with an application

It is nearly impossible to associate a Windows EXE file to a normal application. The context command “Open with …” is not available for this file type.

But broken EXE-files or wrong commands in desktop shortcuts can ask for a application to start with. When your fingers are faster than your brain you cannot start EXE files anymore because Windows try to open them with the application selected before.

Unfortunately you cannot start any repair tools or even the registry editor to fix the problem manually now.

This how-to describes in a few steps how to bring your computer back working correctly.

There are some blog and forum posts concerning this topic but there is not any who describes the solution step by step completely. One step or another is still missing. And they are not so many.

Good and bad news

Unfortunately a System Restore (Restore Point) does not fix the problem at all. A good news is that the problem appears only in the user profile in question. Other profile are untouched. Furthermore the control panel can be started.


To solve the problem completely you need administrator permissions or you have to know the administrator password. You have to log-in the profile where the problem is present.

Because you edit the registry – which is a system relevant component – it is highly recommended to backup your registry database prior editing.


  1. Uninstall the application to which the EXE-files are associated via  control panel (Yes, the conrol panel is still working).
  2. Delete the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\.exe\UserChoice in the registry.

    Registry - UserChoice

    Delete Key “UserChoice” completely

    In this example the program IrfanView (i_view32.exe) was accidentally associated with “.exe”.

  3. Reinstall the uninstalled application from step 1.

Picture Credits

CC0 - Public Domain (Pixabax)

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