Microsoft is giving the Open With dialog a great new design in Windows 11

Many of the changes introduced in Windows 11 have divided opinion, from the central Start button to the non-moveable taskbar. An upcoming change that is sure to go down well, however, is Microsoft decision to give the Open With dialog a much-needed overhaul.

As you know, when you double click a file in Windows, it opens in whatever the default app it is associated with is. The Open With dialog can be used to select an alternative app, and with the redesign, Microsoft is not only introducing a new look that is more in keeping with the Windows 11 aesthetic, is also making the dialog more useful.

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Historically, the Open With dialog has proved both useful and frustrating. While it has long made it possible to open a particular type of file with any application that supports it, it has always been unnecessarily arduous using the same dialog to make permanent file association changes.

The recent release of Windows 11 Build 25151 to Insiders shows that Microsoft is working to change this.

The redesigned Open With dialog is not available to everyone who has this particular build installed (as Windows Latest points out), indicating that Microsoft is conducting A/B testing, or just testing with a small group of users. But for those who can access the new dialog, there are some great changes.

In many ways the new Open With dialog is not vastly different to the version it replaces -- although the look and feel of Windows 11 is more obvious. The list of apps included in the dialog has been rejigged as you can see below:

Image credit: Windows Latest

In addition to listing the currently associated app and offering "Other options", the new dialog includes a short list of suggested alternative apps you may want to use. The option to look for new apps in the Microsoft Store has been transformed into a link rather than a menu item too.

But the biggest change is the arrival of a new button that make it easy to change file associations permanently. This is something that will be familiar to mobile users, but Windows 11 now has the open to open a file in an app other than the default Just once, or Always, by clicking the appropriate button after selecting an app. The Always option will, as you have probably determined, change file associations on a permanent basis, saving an irritating trip to Settings.

It is not clear when, or indeed if, the redesign will make its way to all Windows 11 users, but for many people the day can simply not come soon enough.

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