For Seniors: How to Change the App or Program that Opens a File in Windows 8.1

By Peter Weverka, Mark Justice Hinton

Suppose you double-click a filename in File Explorer but the file opens in the wrong app or program. For example, an image file opens in the Photos app but you want it to open in the Paint program.

In File Explorer, you can right-click a filename and choose Open With on the shortcut menu to see a list of apps and programs that can open the file.


You can tell Windows 8.1 which app or program you want a certain type of file to open in by default. Follow these steps to tell Windows 8.1 which app or program to use to automatically open files of a certain type:

  1. On the Start screen, display the charms bar. You can display the charms bar using these techniques:

    • Mouse: Place the mouse pointer in the lower-right corner of the screen and move the pointer up.

    • Touchscreen: Drag your finger from the right edge of the screen to the left.

    • Keyboard: Press the Windows key+C.

  2. Choose Settings on the charms bar. The Settings panel appears.

  3. Choose Change PC Settings. The PC Settings screen opens.

  4. Select Search and Apps in the PC Settings panel. The Search and Apps panel opens.

  5. Select Defaults to open the Choose Default Apps screen. This screen lists which app or program opens different file types by default.


  6. Select a default app category. For example, select Photo Viewer to decide which app or program opens photo files by default. A pop-up menu appears. This menu lists all apps or programs on your computer that are capable of opening the file type you choose.

  7. On the pop-up menu, select the app or program that you want as the default.