Set Associations

Dear Computer Lady,

I have Microsoft Vista and when I receive an e-mail document I very often cannot open it. I receive a message telling me to “create an association in Set Association control panel”. I find “Folder Options” in my Control Panel but it does not lead me to “File Types”. How can I open the documents?

Thanks for your help! Nancy K


Dear Nancy,

When you attempt to open a file, your computer looks at the three letter ending on the file to see what program it should open the file with. For example, if the file ends with .txt your computer will probably use notepad to open that file with. The computer knows to use notepad because the file extension .txt has been associated with notepad.

When you try to open a file with an extension that has not been registered with any program, your computer does not know what to open that file with. So, it will ask you what to do with it. What you need to do, is find out what program the file was originally created in and see if you have the same program installed on your computer.

If you don’t have that program, you might not be able to open the file. You could ask the person who sent you the file what program it was created in, or go online and look it up on the list at: http: //

Since your file is a .doc file, you can read it in Microsoft Word. You don’t have to go out and purchase the program though, you can go to the Microsoft website and download the free Word Reader. This will allow you to open and read Word files, but not make any changes to them. You will also be able to copy text from the Word files and paste them into your Works program. You can download the free Word Reader here:

A second option, would be to purchase a less expensive Word alternative and use that with Word Documents. Some of these programs have a free version that you can use as well.

Such programs include Open Office at:


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    • osborne
    • December 17, 2009

    I have used a website at to translate emails for which I can’t identify which program originated it.Works free and very fast.

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