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Chapter 3. Installing, Uninstalling, and... > Choose the Program That Works with a...

Choose the Program That Works with a File Type

You don’t always have to start a program by clicking a shortcut in the Start menu or on the desktop. If you saved the latest draft of the Great American Novel in your My Documents folder, all you have to do is double-click the icon for the saved document. When you double-click a data file, such as a Microsoft Word document or a digital picture file, Windows searches its list of file associations to see if it knows how to open that type of file. If it finds a program that’s assigned to open the type of file you double-clicked, it starts that program (or switches to it, if the program is already running) and loads the data file.

Most of the time, this process happens automatically. When you install a new program, the setup routine records the associations between file types and programs. So, when you install Microsoft Office, for example, the setup routine tells Windows that it should open Microsoft Word whenever you double-click a document file whose name ends with the extension .doc.


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