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HELP! Windows cannot open this file

Can not open dialog

You've just downloaded that must have program only to realize that Windows has no idea what to do with it. After an hour of Google searching, forum posting, and being called n00b, you finally figure it out.

If only there was a guide that showed you how to get all those needed programs. We at Download Squad feel your pain and have put together a list of 10 free programs that will take care of those pesky "Windows cannot open this file" messages once and for all.

Note: See a blatant omission or oversight? Please add it to the comments. With your help, we hope to re-post a more complete list the future.

  1. K-Lite codec pack

    File Types: DivX, XviD, AVI, Mpeg 1-4, AC3, AAC, FLAC, WAV, FLV, OGG, VOB, and tons you've never heard of.

    Description: Why there are 85,000,000 different audio and video types we have no idea. What we do know is trying to install codecs one at a time generally ends in a reformat.

    Thankfully, the good people from K-Lite (Koors Lite?) have bundled all the software and codecs you need into one executable. Cheers!

  2. Real Alternative and QuickTime Alternative

    File Types: RM, RA, RAM, RPM, RMVB, RPX, SMI, SMIL, RT, RP, MOV, QT, 3GP

    Description: Before the days of Youtube, the Real Player and QuickTime were kings of Internet multimedia. Sure you had to deal with popups, reminders, updates, and bloatware, but that 1" video was so worth it.

    Fortunately, the Real and Quicktime Alternatives removed the real in Real Player and restored the quick to QuickTime. Enjoy your 1" video!

  1. Microsoft Professional Photography Codecs

    File Types: CR2, TIF, CRW, DNG, ARW, SR2, SRF, ORF, PEF

    Description: Microsoft is now allowing RAW image formats to be supported in Windows. The JPEG community may never recover.

  2. Irfanview

    File Types: Full List

    Description: Irfanview, pronounced "Ear-Fan" view, is a simple, lightweight image viewer that seems to have no limit to the number of files it supports. We can't wait for Nose-Fan and Eye-Fan view.

  3. Word, Powerpoint and Excel Viewer


    Description: With so many free alternatives, it seems like the only reason to fork out hundreds of dollars for the Office suite is to read your colleagues work. Oh wait

  4. Foxit PDF Reader

    File Types: PDF

    Description: Despite Adobe's best attempts with Acrobat Reader, the PDF has become a widely used format. We still don't understand how a PDF brings a dual-core 2gb ram system to its knees.

    Foxit is lightweight and fast and does what one would expect from a PDF viewer. The new version of Foxit also supports video and audio files, but don't watch movies in your PDF viewer, that's just wrong.

  5. Winrar

    File Types: RAR, ZIP, CAB, ARJ, LZH, TAR, GZ, ACE, UUE, BZ2, JAR, ISO, 7Z, Z

    Description: Take for example a file we downloaded from our favorite torrent site; we'll call it "" to protect its identity. The file was an iso image compressed in 50 RAR files and bundled in a ZIP. Winrar took care of all three layers and did it much faster than it would have taken to download the files uncompressed.

  6. Daemon Tools

    File Types: B5T, B6T, BWT, CCD, CDI, CUE, ISO, MDS, NRG, PDI, ISZ

    Description: Pitchfork, flaming sword, whip, crucifix? Not quite, but equally bad if you ask some PC game companies. Daemon tools is a clever program that gives your CD's and CD images a drive letter on your hard drive eliminating the need for physical media.

  7. Java

    File Types: JAVA

    Description: Your going to need the Java runtime environment. It helps you play games, view websites, and run miscellaneous software. No, you don't need the Yahoo! toolbar and you certainly don't need annoying update reminders, but it comes with the package.

  8. Shockwave and Flash Player

    File Types: Embedded Shockwave and Flash Content

    Description: Without Flash games, kids might actually have to use the computer for homework.

Tags: codecs, extension, freeware, howtos, opensource, osupdates, shareware, tools, tweet-this, utilities, windows