How to Set Default Programs in Windows 10 - dummies

How to Set Default Programs in Windows 10

By Andy Rathbone

Most of the time, Windows 10 automatically knows which program should open which file. Double-click a file, and Windows tells the correct program to jump in and let you view its contents.

But sometimes Windows doesn’t choose your preferred program, and that holds especially true for the latest version of Windows. For example, the new app-loving Windows tells the Start menu’s Music app to play your music. You may prefer that the desktop’s Windows Media Player handle the music-playing chores instead.

When the wrong program opens your file, here’s how to make the right program open it instead:

  1. Right-click your problematic file and choose Open With from the pop-up menu.

    As shown here, Windows lists a few capable programs, including ones you’ve used to open that file in the past.

    Windows lists some programs that opened that type of file in the past.
    Windows lists some programs that opened that type of file in the past.
  2. Click the Choose Another App option.

    The window that appears, as shownhere, lists more programs, and the currently assigned program appears at the list’s top. If you spot your favorite program, double-click to tell it to open your file. (Make sure the Always Use This App to Open Files check box is selected so you don’t need to repeat these steps.) Then click OK. You’re done!

    Choose the program you want and select the check box at the bottom.
    Choose the program you want and select the check box at the bottom.

    Don’t see the program you want or need to open the file? Move to Step 3.

  3. Click the words Look for An App in the Store, and click the OK button.

    The Store app appears, leaving you at a virtual shelf stocked with apps capable of opening the file.

If you install a new program or app to open a particular file, the newcomer usually assigns itself the rights to open that type of file in the future. If it doesn’t, head back to Step 1. This time, however, your newly installed program or app will appear on the list. Choose it, and you’ve finally finished.

  • In a bit of revisionist history, Windows uses the term app when referring to both traditional desktop programs and Start menu apps. Be mindful of the Windows terminology when on the desktop. If Windows says an action will affect your apps, it will also affect your desktop programs.

  • Windows lets you choose your default programs from the Start menu, as well. From the Start menu, click the Settings link. When the Setting app appears, click the System icon. From the System window, choose Default Apps from the left pane. On the right, Windows lists the programs currently opening each type of file. Click any program’s name, and a list appears for you to hand the reins to a different program.

  • Sometimes you’ll want to alternate between different apps or programs when working on the same file. To do so, right-click the file, choose Open With, and select the program you need at that time.

  • Occasionally, you can’t make your favorite program open a particular file because it simply doesn’t know how. For example, Windows Media Player can play most videos except when they’re stored in QuickTime, a format used by Microsoft’s competition. Your only solution is to install QuickTime and use it to open that particular video.