How to restore SOLIDWORKS File Associations

Starting from SOLIDWORKS 2013, the application SOLIDWORKS Launcher is used to open files using the appropriate version of SOLIDWORKS, if multiple versions of SOLIDWORKS are installed. Some users find opening a file by right-clicking on the SOLIDWORKS file and selecting Open from Windows Explorer or double-clicking on file results in multiple instances of SOLIDWORKS opening up.

By restoring the SOLIDWORKS File associations you can also restore the Thumbnail preview for SOLIDWORKS files.

This issue occurs if the SOLIDWORKS file type is directly associated to a specific version of the SOLIDWORKS executable application, instead of the SOLIDWORKS Launcher’s executable application. The following article discusses how to resolve this anomaly.

Associate Files to the SOLIDWORKS Launcher

To re-associate the files to the correct executable application, please follow the instructions below.

  1. Close all applications on your system and restart your computer.
  2. Browse to the SOLIDWORKS installation folder. By default, the location will be under
    C:\Program Files\SolidWorks Corp\SolidWorks
  3. Select Shift + right-click on SLDWORKS.exe and choose Run as administratorRun-SLDWORKS-exe-As-Admin.png
  4. Go to Tools > Options > System Options > General
  5. Select Restore File Associations
  7. Right-click on any SOLIDWORKS part (sldprt) file in a Windows Explorer folder, choose Open with, and select Choose another app
  8. In the Open with a window select the SOLIDWORKS Launcher under Recommended Programs. If the SOLIDWORKS Launcher is not available as a Recommended Program, click on Browse… and select the swShellFileLauncher.exe, which can be found in the SOLIDWORKS installation folder (default location: C:\Program Files\SolidWorks Corp\SolidWorks). Also, make sure to check on Always use the selected program to open this kind of file and select OK (In Solidworks 2024, this has been changed to: C:\Program Files\Common Files\SOLIDWORKS Shared).
  9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 with a SOLIDWORKS assembly (sldasm) and drawing (slddrw) file.
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