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How to Set Default Programs for File Extension Associations in Windows

When you have multiple browsers or media players on a single machine, the latest software you installed takes all the Default Program file Associations.  For instance, when you install Winamp Player on Windows, the .mp3 files by default will play on Winamp and not Windows media player. Basically, the File extension associations gets over-ridden when a new software is installed.

Some of the programs do prompt to the user, however most of the programs do not. For eg: If you have installed another web browser in addition to Internet Explorer, you can specify that you want to use that browser as your default program for opening web based content instead of Internet Explorer when the program is launched for the first time. You usually get the dialog ‘Do you want Chrome to be your default Browser?’

Now when you face a similar situation like this and want to change the default associations back, here are few of the methods you can use –

Option 1: Set Default Programs in Control Panel

Open Control Panel, and select Programs. Here you will find option to set the Default Programs (as shown below)

Set Default Program in the Control Panel

When you open the Set Default Programs, you will see the list of all the softwares installed and you can choose which Program you want to set as default. In this example, let us choose Internet Explorer and Set this program as default for all the internet shortcuts,  HTML files and other files normally viewed on a browser.

Set Default Program in the Control Panel

You can also choose, selective application types or file extensions to associate with a program. For example, in this below screenshot you will see, how specific a file type can be assigned a program.

Set Default Program for Specific File extension

Option 2: Associating a file extension Using the right click menu Option

Select the file which you want to associate, right-click on it, and select the Open With Menu Item and Click on Choose Default Program.

Choose Default Program - Right Click MenuThis will list all the available softwares/programs for this program. You can choose a program here and click on OK button. Ensure that, you select the Check box “Always use the selected Program to open this kind of file”.

Set Default Program - Right Click Menu

Option 3: Registry Key Association

If your application uses special file extensions, you might want to register them so that the application gets started when the icon associated with the file gets double-clicked. Read this article to know more – How to register a File Extension in Windows? (This is for an advanced User)

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5 comments

  1. Idaho Mom says:

    I looked all over online to find these directions. I knew there was a place to change settings but I could not find it. Thank you for taking the time to post this!

  2. johnwboyd says:

    But how to override/ change the blasted wrong path that windows forces to as example: wordpad.exe instead of snex9x.exe in XP?

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