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How Do I Change the Default Application for Opening a File

September 23, 2011  |  Difficulty: Easy

How to change the default application for opening files in Microsoft Windows®

Applications distinguish files by their file extension which identifies what type of file it is. There are various file extensions for similar types of files such as .jpg or .gif for image files as well as a wide range of program file extensions. Each file type can be opened by one or more applications installed on a computer, but only one application is set as the default for opening the file type. The Windows® operating system lets you easily change the default application if another application is installed to open the file type. To change the default application, follow the directions below.


  1. Click on the “Start” button and select “My Computer” (“Computer” in Windows Vista® and Windows® 7).
  2. Locate the file you would like to set up a default application.
  3. Right-click on the selected file and choose “Properties“.
  4. On the third line, you will see “Open with:” containing the “Change...” button. Click on the “Change” button.
  5. The list of available applications will open in another screen. Browse and choose one. Then click on the “OK” button. If you would like to choose a program which is not in the list, click on the “Browse...” button and locate the application launch file.
  6. Click on the “OK” button to close the Properties window.

Tips and Tricks:

  • If you would like to open the file in another application temporarily without changing its permanent settings, right-click on it and go to “Open With” and choose an application.

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