Coffee: temporarily change the default program used to open any file type


Ever wanted to temporarily change the association of a file type or extension? Coffee is a small, free tool that can change the default applications used for opening any file type and allows for defining a primary as well as a secondary alternate program (the latter activated when launching a file and simultaneously pressing ALT).

Coffee was originally designed to enable changing file associations to portable apps but will work with installed apps as well.

It will allow you to store your file type configurations and carry these portably in order to instantly switch the default handlers of selected file types to apps on your USB in any new environment. Coffee can be disabled at any time to revert back to the system’s default applications.

[Editor’s note: this post was written by Freewaregenius contributor EngineerHead. Check out his tech blog here].

The use of portable applications is growing rapidly, whether because they can be utilized at any workstation or because they can be used without installation or writing to the registry. This app allows you to temporarily re-assign file types to both portable applications or installed applications, and can be used, say, on a system where you are not familiar with the installed applications and prefer to use your own out of a USB, or temporarily re-assign filetypes to alternate apps on your own computer. Once Coffee is terminated, all filetype assignments revert back to normal. Here are more notes:

  • Set Primary and alternate applications: Coffee will allow you to set a primary and alternate application, as there may be cases when you want to switch between two applications to launch a file (the applications can installed or portable apps). When you double click the file holding ALT key, the alternate application will launch the file. You can set an secondary alternate application without setting a primary one if you like.
  • Relative Paths: of the chosen applications are stored in a configuration file. This makes your preferences portable also.
  • Auto Associate New to Host: you will be prompted to set a new association once you run Coffee and click on any file type. This behavior can be disabled to avoid being asked to set an association whenever a double click is performed on file type that are not already configured in Coffee.
  • Coffee SensitivityDouble Click Sensitivity: can be increased or decreased according to your own preference. You can figure out the response time by double clicking in the test area.
  • Shortcut Keys: are supported for almost every function, such as Pause, Refresh, etc.
  • Works only from within Windows Explorer: once you set an alternate app (and assuming Coffee is activated), double clicking from within Windows Explorer will open the file using the alternate app. However, note that launching from any environment that is not Windows Explorer (e.g. an explorer replacement, a desktop search app, etc.) will open the file using Windows’ system defaults.

The Verdict: A tiny but handy utility that is also very original; I have never come across a utility to handle the default behavior of file types. It can not only change the default apps to portable apps, but will allow you to carry the new configurations on a USB to instantly transfer these preferences to any new environment. Give it a try, especially if you are an avid user of portable apps.

Version Tested: 0.1 R2

Compatibility: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Seven

Visit the program home page to download the latest version packaged with source code (approx 0.4 MB).