This guide will walk you through steps on how to open a file with a default program in windows 10.

The Windows operating system comes pre-installed with various programs. Each is the default program for opening a set of files. This includes programs like; Internet Explorer which opens HTML and pdf files, windows media player which opens some video and audio format files.

However, in most cases, we install other third-party softwares that open the same files as the default windows programs.

These programs include; VLC player which opens media files as similar to the windows media player of Windows, Adobe Reader(or Adobe Acrobat) which opens pdf files as similar to Internet Explorer of Windows.

The problem comes in when the computer continues opening files that you intended for third-party software with the default pre-installed programs of Windows.

Fortunately, Microsoft created a way on how to open a file with a default program (It doesn’t matter whether the program comes pre-installed on Windows or whether the program is third-party).

How to open a file with a default program in Windows 10.

There are two different ways on how to open a file with a default program

Method 1

Note: To open a file with a default program on windows, the program intended for the operation must be installed on the computer locally. Otherwise, a cloud-based program cannot be set as a default program to open a file.

Open computer settings

Right-click on the windows logo at the bottom left of the screen.

Locate and open “settings” from the menu displayed.

computer settings

Open Apps settings

Locate and open the Apps settings from the settings main menu.

Apps settings to change default program settings

Open default program settings(Default Apps tab)

From the Default apps tab, scroll down and click on “choose default apps by file type

settings on how to open a file with a default program in windows 10

A list of various file types will be displayed with the file name on the left (and file extension) and the set default program to open that particular file.

Change settings for a file to open with a default program.

To change the default program for a particular file, Locate the file type from the list and click on the default program to change it. (or click on the “+” icon to add a default program if it’s not set). You will then choose a program from the list that pops up.

settings on how to open a file with a default program in windows 10

There are situations though when you click to add a default program, but you’re not in the position to see any of your programs. This can be probably because the program you want does not support that particular file type, or probably because the program didn’t install correctly.

To fix this, you can download a supported program from the Microsoft store (by clicking on the Microsoft store icon listed in the drop-down list).

Alternatively, if you think the program did not install correctly, you can uninstall it and then install it again. If this doesn’t work, you obviously need to install another program for that particular file type.

However, if you are not in the position to identify the file extensions, locate the files from the file explorer for which you want to change a default program.

Right click on a file, click on properties, navigate to the Details tab. From the file name, you will be able to see the file extension. You can then roll back to the settings and follow the steps of changing the default program for the file.

With the above steps, you can be able to open a file with a default program.

Method 2

Locate a file from the file explorer.

Right click on the file, navigate to “open with”, A second menu will be displayed. Click on  “Choose another app”.

settings on how to open a file with a default program in windows 10

From the new window, a program list will be displayed from which a program should be chosen, however, you should first check “Always use this app to open…”, then click on the app and finally click OK.

settings on how to open a file with a default program in windows 10

All files of the same file type will always by default open with the saved program if the settings are set up correctly as shown above.

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Enock Lubowa
A technologist who writes for both the geeks and non-geeks. I am an entrepreneur and software developer with a Computer Science background. Discuss complicated stuff with me via my social handles below.