I am working with an older version of Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio 2014. I run the following query:

FROM sys.dm_exec_query_stats qs
CROSS APPLY sys.dm_exec_query_plan( qs.plan_handle ) Q
WHERE Q.dbid = DB_ID( 'Northwind' )

When I click on one of the hyperlinked query_plans (ShowPlanXML=...), SSMS 2014 opens the link in a new text window in XML format. As I understand it, SSMS is supposed to open the link as a graphical execution plan.

Is there any way to configure SSMS to automatically open the ShowPlanXML link as a graphical execution plan without third party software and without updating the version I have of SSMS 2014?


1 Answer 1


You need to ensure the System Registry contains the correct file-extension-mapping for .sqlplan files.

Open the Registry Editor, navigate to the following key:


Confirm the (Default) value contains something like:


(the version number might be different for SSMS 2014).

This is a screenshot of Registry Editor showing the key and value:

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You'll also need to ensure the following value is set correctly:

enter image description here

When I say "correctly", I mean appropriately for your system. If this approach doesn't work, I'd try simply re-installing SSMS 2014. Of course, I'd actually recommend installing the latest version of SSMS, v18, which is available for free directly from Microsoft.


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