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Guide: How to Set Default Apps on Windows 10 PC
I’m not a big fan of Windows 10 built-in apps, which is why I always download third-party alternatives that are usually more powerful. However, this also forces me to manage standard apps regularly
Unfortunately, Windows 10 has one completely different interface to manage standard apps, unlike Windows 7 or 8. And in my experience, it’s a bit overwhelming and confusing
After a bit of experimentation, I managed to understand my default apps and take control. If you are having trouble managing default apps in Windows 10, read on guideback to menu ↑
Change default apps
I’ll show you four ways to change default apps in Windows 10. First, I’ll get you one sooner easier way to change default apps that should work fine for most regular users. After that, I’ll show you more comprehensive ways that are best for advanced users.
1. Change via menu “Open with”
The Open with context menu item is still available in Windows 10 and is not much different from the previous versions. As someone who just wants it immediately associate a default app with their required file type, this option is perfect. Obviously, it’s not a reliable option to manage multiple file types, but I’ll get to that later.
- Right click on the file you want to change the default app and go to Open with Choose another app
- Now below Other options, you will see a list of apps that can open that file (click More apps to see everything). Select the desired app from the list and check the box next to Always use this app to open (X) filesWhen you hit OK, the selected app will be set as default.
If your program is not listed there, scroll down and click Look for another app on this PCThis will open up the file explorer and you can navigate and the run the file (.exe) of your required app. You can select both the desktop shortcut and the original output file.
Access to Default apps manager
The following 3 methods require you to open the Windows Default apps manager first. To do this, go to Windows 10 Settings Apps Standard apps
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2. Change the option “Choose default apps by file type”
If you scroll down in the default apps manager, you will find an option from Choose default apps by file typeThis is probably the most comprehensive way to change Windows 10’s default apps.
When you open it, you will see a large list of all file types supported by Windows 10And next to each file, there is an app you can link to it. All you need to do is click on the app next to each file type and select the app you want.
The file types are arranged alphabetically, you should have no problem finding the file type you want. The only problem here is that this section won’t allow you open file types by searching for apps on your PCWhatever apps Windows 10 has listed here, you can select it.back to menu ↑
3. Change the option “Choose default apps by protocol”
You will also see an option of Choose default apps by protocol, this includes links or URLs in your browser or apps. I’m not about regular website URLsI am talking about complete protocols dedicated to specific apps. Like MailTo Links that must be handled by an email app, or an FTP URL with an FTP server installed.
Most of these protocols are for Microsoft services and only Microsoft apps can handle them, but there are still many protocols that third party apps can handleThe apps are listed next to each protocol and you can click on them to select the required app if available. Again, you can only choose the apps that Windows 10 shows, there is no option to browse the PC.
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4. Using the old Default Programs manager
The above two options are good for managing default apps, but personally, I prefer the old Default Program manager that came with Windows 7 and 8. Luckily, it’s still available in Windows 10, and Microsoft has been kind enough to release a link to it in the Windows 10 Default apps manager
In the Default Apps manager you can click on the link Set default values per app to open the old Default Programs manager.
Here on the left you will see a list of all apps installed on your PC, both native and third-party. If you select one of the apps, you will find two options for it: Set this program as default and Choose default values for this programBelow is an explanation of each:
Set this program as default
This option assigns all file types and protocols that the respective app can handle. You have to be careful with this option and Only use it if you trust the app for all of your needs
For example, I trust the Opera browser for opening all my links – including MailTo – but I still want to Adobe Acrobat to open my pdf files because it’s better for the job. So just for those feature, I cannot use the Set this program as default option. Read all protocols and file types first (more on this below), then use this option if applicable.
Choose the default settings for this program
With this option you can manually select file types and protocolIt lists all file types and protocols that the app can handle. You just have to check the box next to the file names then click Save to link them to the app.
But you cannot disable any of the file types or protocols already associatedSimply because if you delete the default file type app, no app will open it until it is reassigned to another app. So Windows does not allow thisYou need to add the file type or protocol in another alternate app to remove support from the current app.
I believe Choose this program by default is a better choice for managing default settings as it gives you full control.back to menu ↑
Reset default apps
Manage default settings can get carried away and get lost up configuring wrong default apps for filesFortunately, Windows 10 has one Reset button to reset all default apps to the ones recommended by Microsoft. The Reset button is also available in the same Windows 10 Default apps interface, and clicking on it will instantly reset all default settings.
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In most cases it is Open with the context menu input method should be good enough for you as it is simpler and more customizable. However, for batch processing you have to depend on the special default apps manager.
It’s also good to know that you can export and import standard apps associations. it can come in handy when you need to switch to another PC or reset Windows.back to menu ↑
How to Set Default Apps on Windows 10 PC: benefits
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