There are several ways you can make coming to FILExt to research unknown file extensions easier. Most are described in various FAQs on this site and involve editing the registry (XP FAQ and Vista FAQ).
Dennis at DAIR Computer Systems was kind enough to work with me to produce easy-to-use software to make the necessary registry changes for you. All you have to do is run a small program and agree to the changes being made. Changing back to Microsoft's default is just as easy. Either program is available for direct download below.
FILExt Direct is a system of two EXE files; one to make coming directly to FILExt your default action when you attempt to open a file Windows has no association for and one to restore going to Microsoft and their search engine the default.
In each case all you need do is download the proper file to your computer and then run it. A small dialog box will open telling you what will happen when you close the dialog box. Click to close the box and the Registry Editor will be activated to make the necessary changes. Click OK to that and you're done.
You can download either of the FILExt Direct programs at these links...
The top is the download you want to make FILExt your default unknown file extension search tool. The bottom is the download you want to return your system to where you need to search the entire Internet.
You should only download these files from FILExt. FILExt cannot guarantee the validity of versions obtained from other sources. For those who want to check, the MD5 hashs should be:
1) Click on either of the links above for the program you want to download. Save the .EXE file to a location you can find again on your hard disk or on your Desktop.
2) Double click on the .EXE file you downloaded. A dialog similar to this one should appear...
3) Read what it says to make certain that you have selected the correct download and it has correctly identified your operating system.
4) You should also see a dialog from the Registry Editor asking if you want to incorporate a .REG file into your registry. The example shown is from Windows XP; Windows Vista will require two additional steps: agreeing to run the program from an "untrusted" source and then the step to run the Registry Editor if you have the User Access Controls set.
6) Accept the change if you wish to proceed or cancel if you have changed your mind.
That's it. Once you accept the change the Registry Editor will tell you the changes have been made and you are then done. To undo the changes select and run the other download. If you selected the option to default to FILExt, whenever you click on a file Windows has no association for and select the Search the Internet option from the Windows message you will come directly to FILExt and directly to the page that has information on that file extension.
You can now close the program and go about your business.
Note: If you have a pop-up blocker active, clicking on any of the links in the program window may result in the pop-up blocker blocking the resulting page from showing up.
FILExt thanks Dennis at DAIR Computer Systems for his work on these useful programs. The programs were created using the DAIR HtmlApp Studio program which packages HTML content inside Windows executable files allowing secure, fully featured distribution of Web content.