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Restoring .lnk file associations

This article was previously published under Q172053
When you select programs from the Start menu or shortcuts nothing happens,the "Open with" dialog box is displayed or a specific program runs.
The .lnk association is either missing, incorrect or corrupted. Becauseall shortcuts and Program Menu items are files with a .lnk extension.Selecting one either brings up the "Open with" dialog box, a specificapplication such as Notepad.exe or Wordpad.exe or doesn't do anything.
You can correct this by either restoring the registry key from anotherworking computer or manually replacing the registry key.

WARNING: Using Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious, system-wideproblems that may require you to reinstall Windows NT to correct them.Microsoft cannot guarantee that any problems resulting from the use ofRegistry Editor can be solved. Use this tool at your own risk.

To restore the registry key from another computer, perform the followingsteps:
  1. Start Registry Editor (Regedt32.exe) and select the following subkey:
  2. From the Edit menu, click Delete.
  3. On another Windows NT 4.0 computer, start Registry Editor (Regedt32.exe) and select the registry key HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.lnk.
  4. From the Registry menu, click Save Key.
  5. Copy this file to the computer exhibiting the problem or to a floppy disk.
  6. On the computer exhibiting the problem, recreate the registry key by selecting HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT and then from the Edit menu, click Add Key. Type .lnk for the key name.
  7. Select the new key, click Restore from the Registry menu, and select the file from the other computer or floppy disk.
  8. Quit Registry Editor and restart the computer. Test a Program menu item or shortcut.
To manually enter the information, perform the following steps:
  1. Start Registry Editor (Regedt32.exe), select the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT subkey, and then click Add Key on the Edit menu.
  2. In the Key Name box type ".lnk" (without quotation marks), and then click OK. Note that you should leave the Class box blank.
  3. In the Add Value dialog box, click OK to leave the Value Name blank, and click REG_SZ in the Data Type list.
  4. In the String Editor box, type "lnkfile" (without quotation marks), and then click OK.
  5. Select the .lnk key you just re-created under the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT subkey. On the Edit menu, click Add Key and then type "ShellNew" (without quotation marks). Note that you should leave the Class box blank.
  6. Click Add Value on the Edit menu, type "command" (without quotation marks) in the Data Name box, click REG_SZ in the Data name box, and then type "RunDLL32 AppWiz.Cpl,NewLinkHere %1" (without quotation marks) as the string value.
  7. Quit Registry Editor, and then restart the computer.
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Article ID: 172053 - Last Review: 10/31/2006 19:00:22 - Revision: 1.1

  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition
  • kbfile kbhowto KB172053