Tutorial should apply to Windows Vista/7/10
Please be careful when editing the registry. Create a backup in case you accidentally delete/modify the wrong value — it can damage your Windows OS.
When you right-click an file, such as a .txt file, Windows will give you a few options you can perform with the file – this is called the Context Menu. I currently have Notepad++ as my default text file editor so all my text files open with Notepad++. However, sometimes I prefer to open them with my new, favorite editor “Sublime Text.” It is an awesome text editor, especially for coding. Currently, right-clicking a .txt file does not give me the option to open it with Sublime Text. (of course I could always make Sublime Text my default text editor, however this tutorial is about showing you how to add any application to the right-click context menu).
Currently if I right-click my .txt file I get the following menu:
We can add any application to the “context-menu” shown above by tweaking the registry. So first open the registry:
- Press [WIN]+R to display the “Run” window.
- Type “regedit” in the Run window (without quotes), and hit [Enter] to launch the registry.
Remember to be very careful when working with the registry, and make a backup in case you mess something up.
After opening the registry navigate to:
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shell (if admin user)
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\*\shell (if you are a normal user)
Right-click the “shell” folder on the left pane of your Registry Editor and select New >> Key. This should create a new folder/key under the “shell” folder. Give the new folder/key any name you like. I chose “Sublime Text” — This is the name that will show up on your Windows context menu.
After renaming the new folder/key (“Sublime Text” in my case), right-click and select New >> Key to create another new folder/key. This folder must be named “command“:
Now, in the right pane of the Registry Editor, double-click the “(Default)” value. This should allow you to set the value. For the value, you must type in the location of the application with ” %1″ at the end:
To have the Sublime Text icon appear next to the name in the context menu of a file, highlight “Sublime Text” folder we just created on the left pane, and on the right pane right-click and select New >> Expandable String Value. Name this new value “Icon” and point it to our directory: “C:\Program Files\Sublime Text 3\sublime_text.exe, 0”. Leave out the quotations and don’t forget the “,0” at the end.
This value pass the file path and name of the selected file to your custom program. Now when I right-click the same .txt file, I have the option to open it with “Sublime Text”:
Congratulations, that’s it to add an application to the context menu. To change other context menus, please use the Registry Editor locations listed below.
Other Context menu changes:
To edit the context-menu that pops up when you right-click on folders (not files):
- HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell\[new key]
- HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell\[new key]
- HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\directory\shell\[new key]
- HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\directory\Background\shell\[new key]
Normal user account:
Remember, you can also change the Icon that appears next to your context-menu entry by adding the “icon” Expandable String Value to the newly created Key.
As you can see, setting up the context-menu for files and folders can increase your speed and efficiency. It’s always a good idea to take some time out and customize your OS because it will save you tremendous amounts of time. You can also add items to your right-click “Send-to” context menu.
For further easy customization please see:
Add application to Right-click Send-to context menu
Access GodMode in Windows