How to Change what Program opens a File in Windows 10

Windows 10 is still new to millions of people around the world. Trying it out for the first time can be exciting as well as a bit complex. Installing all your favorite programs and apps and giving it a makeover of your own can be frustrating. And if you are a power user with maintaining a lot of files for specific purposes then you’re in for trouble.

But Windows 10 gives you an option to set or change the default program to your favorite one easily. So, let’s take a sneak peek at the practical ways you can improve what programs open a file in Windows 10.

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Method 1: From Settings

Just follow the steps below to do it.

Step-1: Press Ctrl+X or right-click on the Start menu and choose Settings.

Change Default Programs 1

Step-2: In the Settings windows click on Apps.

Change Default Programs 2

Step-3: Now select Default apps from the left sidebar. You will see the options to set default apps.

Change Default Programs 3

There are three different ways you can set the default apps.

Changing Default Apps by Category

In this window, you will get options to choose apps for some main category such as Email, Maps, Music & Video Player, Photo Viewer, and Web browser. If you want to change the app for a category click on it and select from the list. For example, I want to change the Music player from VLC to Groov Music to do that do the following.

Change Default Apps by Category

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Changing Default Apps by File Type

Scroll down in the default apps window and click on Choose default apps by file type.

Change Default Apps by File Type 1

Now you will see the list of file types in the left and the program which will open that file type. To change a default app for a particular file type click on the app besides it and select from the list.

Change Default Apps by File Type 2

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Changing Default Apps by Protocol

Scroll down in the default apps window and click on Choose default apps by protocol.

Change Default Apps by Protocol 1

Now you will see the list of all protocols and their associated programs. To change a default apps click on the app besides the protocol and select from the list.

Change Default Apps by Protocol 2

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Setting Defaults by App

If you want to set the defaults for a particular app then this option will help you. Scroll down in the default apps window and click on Set defaults by app.

Set Defaults by App 1

Now you will see the list of the apps on your system. Select an app and click on Manage.

Set Defaults by App 2

Now you will see the list of all file types and protocols which that app can handle. You will also see the current default app for those file types and protocol. Click on an app besides a file type or protocol then set the default for it.

Set Defaults by App 3

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Method 2: From File Explorer

You can also change the program from File Explorer. It’s a quick method to alter the program that opens a file type. So, if you’re in a bit of a hurry, you can choose this way.

Just follow the steps below, and you’ll know just what to do.

Step-1: Just right click on the file you want to associate a program. Then go to Open with. You’ll see a lot of options on this menu. Don’t select the app from here, it will only open the file in that app for once and won’t change the defaults. Click on Choose another app.

Change Default Apps Method 2-1

Step-2: Now select the app that you want to open that file type, then check the box of Always use this app to open (file type) files. Now click OK, it will change the defaults for that particular file type.

Change Default Apps Method 2-2

Using Properties

Step-1: Right-click on file and go to Properties.

Change Default Apps Method 2-3

Step-2: You see an option Change beside the app that opens it. So, click it to change it.

Change Default Apps Method 2-4

Step-3: Now select the program and click on OK.  And it’s done! Now you have permanently reset the file type association.

Change Default Apps Method 2-5

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In case you do not find the desired app,

While selecting the default apps, at some point if you don’t find the desired app for that particular file type then you can look for it in the Microsoft Store. The store will search for that file type or protocol and list alternate apps. Follow the steps below to do that.

While finding the app in the drop-down list, you will always find the option of Look for an app in the Store. Click on it.

Search in Microsoft Store 1

Then the store will display the available apps for that file type or protocol.

Search in Microsoft Store 2

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Other methods

When you’re installing a new program, some program may ask to set them as default. Such as Chrome or Firefox. Some programs will even give you a list of file types you can assign to them.

Some catch-all tools like VLC or other photo viewer tools can open a lot of files types. So, they will give a list of file types to choose from.

Some also do periodic checks to see if they’re the default program for a file type or protocol.

However, it’s better not to wait and do them manually.

1 thought on “How to Change what Program opens a File in Windows 10”

  1. No linking from inside Word 2013 files
    My MS Word 2013 files have included hyper-links and/or complete URLs to third-party websites or to YouTube videos for years. I have always been able to access these sites by holding down Ctrl and clicking on the URL or hyperlink. Recently, possibly since a Windows update, I can no longer access those embedded links from inside my Word files. Instead, I need to copy the embedded link, paste it into a browser to access the URL or YouTube file. (With embedded hyperlinks, I cannot access the site unless I know how to find the URL)
    I received this when holding down Ctrl + clicking on the link:
    “Unable to open file (name). No program is registered to open this file.”
    Now that error msg. has changed to:
    “Your organization’s policies are preventing us from completing this action for you. Please contact your help desk.” (I am the “administrator”)

    I have extensively searched related posts but did not find a solution at
    Question: How can I again use Ctrl + clicking on the embedded URL from inside a Word 2013 file?
    My latest update is Windows version 1809 (KB4494174)
    Thank you for any advice you can give me.


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