Change which programs Windows uses by default


A default program is the program that Windows uses when you open a particular type of file, such as a music file, an image, or a webpage. For example, if you have more than one web browser installed on your computer, you can choose one of them to be the default browser.

Watch this video to learn how to change which programs Windows uses by default (1:35)

Open Default Programs by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Default Programs.

In Default Programs, you can:

Show all

Set your default programs

Use this option to choose which programs you want Windows to use, by default.

Picture of setting a default program
You can choose the programs that Windows uses by default

If a program does not show up in the list, you can make the program a default by using Set Associations.

  1. Open Default Programs by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Default Programs.

  2. Click Associate a file type or protocol with a program.

  3. Click the file type or protocol that you want the program to act as the default for.

  4. Click Change program.

  5. Click the program that you want to use as the default for the file type you selected, or click the arrow next to Other Programs to show additional programs. (If you don't see Other Programs, or your program is not listed, click Browse to find the program you want to use, and then click Open. If no other programs are installed that are able to open the file type or protocol, your choices will be limited.)

    Picture of a list of other available programs
    If you don't see the program you want to use as the default, click the arrow next to Other Programs to see a list of programs available on your computer
  6. Click OK.

Notes

  • You cannot change an association for a file type or protocol and leave it blank or disassociated. You must select a new program.

  • The options you set here only apply to your user account. Your choices won't affect other user accounts on this computer.

Associate a file type with a program

Use this option to fine-tune default programs based on the file type or protocol. For example, you can have all .jpg image files open using a specific program, and .bmp image files open using a different program.

Change AutoPlay settings

You can also change which programs to use to start different kinds of media, such as music CDs or DVDs that contain photos. For more information, see AutoPlay: frequently asked questions.

Set default programs for this computer

Set Program Access and Computer Defaults (available in Windows 7) is a tool to set default programs for activities such as browsing the web and sending e‑mail for everyone who uses the computer. For more information, go to the Windows website and search for "Set Program Access and Computer Defaults."