Zip file extension association in Vista

When you're working with the Open XML File Format, you often find yourself changing the file extension on a document to .zip so you can have a dig around inside the package. Of course, when you then want to open the document in Word / PowerPoint / Excel, you typically change the extension back again. Another option is to right click on the .zip file and use "Open With"...

All I'm going to say is - be careful. I've done this before which makes it all the more annoying that I did it again yesterday. I selected "Open With -> Choose Default Program" and then selected Word and forgot to uncheck the "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file" checkbox.

Of course, this associates all .zip files with Word from then on. Not a problem, let's just go and change it back. But of course it is a problem because the original association wasn't with an application but with Windows Explorer and you wont find that as an option on the list. This is not a good place to be. Its an incredibly frustrating place to be in fact. And all for one button click too quick.

There are a number of suggested solutions kicking around for XP (and supposedly for Vista) but I couldn't get any of the "clean" ones to work so in the end I had to go with a registry hack (I downloaded a .reg file and took my chances). There has to be an easier way to restore that association. Anyone got any ideas?

Update - See my later post here.

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Comments (15)

  1. MarkJo says:

    Start > Default Programs > Associate a file type

    Pick your extension and associate with your program 🙂

  2. MikeO [MSFT] says:

    Two problems with that…

    [1] .zip doesn’t appear in my list

    [2] What program do you associate it with?

  3. Tim Long says:

    System Restore? It’s a big sledgehammer for a little nut, but it would certainly do the trick.

  4. MikeO [MSFT] says:

    That’s true Tim and, at the time, I did consider it. But I discounted it for exactly the reason you state. It seemed like a very big hammer for a very small nut. But perhaps I should have given it a chance… I’ll keep it in mind for next time as I’m bound to do it again… 🙂

  5. Gary says:

    "Open With -> Choose Default Program" and then select:


    only niggle is the icon…

  6. Gary says:

    "Open With -> Choose Default Program" and then select:


    only niggle is the icon…

  7. BenN says:

    In XP, it’s associated with

    "rundll32.exe zipfldr.dll,RouteTheCall %L"

    and there’s a DDE call (no idea what that means) specified as

    "[ViewFolder("%l", %I, %S)]"

    Seems a little complicated to me. But then again XP also lists "Compressed Files and Folders" as an application something can be associated with, so none of the above would be needed.

    I’m sure it should still be there for Vista. Bug?

  8. MikeO [MSFT] says:

    Gary – well I must admit that seems obvious now but at the time I didn’t try it. 🙂 Will give it a go next time if I do it again thanks.

    BenN – yes, I’ve just compared with XP and I see what you mean. I don’t see that option on Vista so you might be right…

  9. Hinezee says:


    I had the same frustrating situation occur on the trian this morning and it was blowing me away that I couldn’t associate it with the original "zip" application.  I’m going to try the explorer option now….  Cheers for this…

  10. Od says:

    Had the same problem (WinAce corrupts file associations in Vista), system restore helped.

    But… it’s really annoying there’s no option in the "Open With" dialog.

  11. Chaffy says:

    "Open With -> Choose Default Program" and then select:


    only niggle is the icon…

    This worked for me but i still dont have the option the extract the files but i give a big thanks to Gary

  12. ross says:

    the "fix" doesnt do anything for me! i still have problems with the icon! i want it to be like the one i had before! before i accidentally clicked "always use the selected program to open this type of file"… please help someone!!!

  13. SlyEcho says:

    Delete this registry key, it will reset the associations for zip files. And yes, it is very annoying and I hope they fix it soon.

  14. A long time ago, I wrote about my self-inflicted woes when I accidentally associated winword.exe as my

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