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There are tons of file types that a user can work with. There are also several programs that can open a specific file type. For example, a bitmap type of file (.bmp extension) is an image file that can be opened by programs like MS Paint, Picasa Photo Viewer, Metro app “Photos”, Paint.NET, etc. An mp3 file can be opened by programs like Windows Media Player, Clementine, SMPlayer, VLC, etc.

When you open a file, Windows need to select a program to open the file with. So, it will prompt user every time to select a program. If a program has been defined as default for that file type, then Windows will automatically use that program, thus avoiding the requirement of the user interaction.

This Control Panel applet lets you select a default program for all the file types residing in your Windows system.

How to Launch It

  • Open the traditional Control Panel through the Start Screen or using the Run Windows command “control”.
  • Select “Category” view for Control Panel.
  • Select “Programs” category. This opens a new page containing the subcategories.
  • Select “Default Programs”. This will launch the applet on the same control panel page.

Default Programs

Set your default programs

This option works in the context of programs. It lets you select file types for a specific program which will open with this program.

On selecting a program, the applet shows the number of file types for which this program can work as default. You can either make the program as default for all the file types or choose specific file types.

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The above image lists all the file types that Paint program can open. You can select all or specific file types for Paint.

Associate a file type or protocol with a program

This option works in the context of file types. You can choose a program for a specific file type to work as default.

To select a default program for a file type, select the file type and click on “Choose program”.

This will launch a pop up window that lists several programs. It also provides option to search for a program online or on local PC.

Change AutoPlay Settings

This option lets you select what program Windows should automatically open when an external device like optical discs, pen drive, hard disks, etc., are connected to PC.

Set Program Access and Computer Defaults

There are several activities for which PC is used more frequently – web browsing, e-mail, media player and instant messaging. Windows provides three pre-defined configurations that set default programs for these activities.

  • Microsoft Windows – This configuration sets Microsoft programs as default.
  • Non-Microsoft – This configuration uses currently set default programs.
  • Custom – You can select Microsoft or non-Microsoft programs to use as default programs.
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About the Author

Onuora Amobi is the Founder and VP of Digital Marketing at Learn About The Web Inc. Onuora has more than a decade of information security, project management and management consulting experience. He has specialized in the management and deployment of large scale ERP client/server systems.

In addition to being a former Microsoft MVP and the founder and editor of EyeOnWindows.com, he is the CEO of a Pasadena based online marketing education startup - Learn About The Web Inc. (www.learnabouttheweb.com) and The Redmond Cloud (https://www.theredmondcloud.com).

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  1. Nice article. Very informative. Keep up the good work.

  2. HI Guru,
    I use Gmail from Google instead of outlook. How to set the Gmail as my mail default program so that I can send mail directly from either word or PDF directly out instead stead of save a copy onto desktop and activate the gmail again and do a attachment.
    Please kindly help if any of you has a solution.

  3. eternaloptimist1971 / July 28, 2013 at 1:06 pm /Reply

    Unfortunately I have yet to be able to use my Windows 8 Mail app as my default mail program when trying to send stuff from my desktop. I can only do so if I go through metro ui

  4. Control panel can be found this way. Drag your cursor to the right corner of the screen until a side bar pops up, type in the search CONTROL PANEL, It will come up. click on the words control panel. Presto!

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