Can’t Set Default Apps on Windows 10: Change Default Programs (Settings Page) Easily

When you install Windows 10 fresh on your system, the OS will let you view images, play movies, play music, and browse the internet all without installing additional apps. All this is made possible by the stock apps that come pre-installed on the OS.

Stock apps are set as the default for their respective file and call-handler types. When you have a fresh Windows 10 installation, the Photos app is already set to open JPGs and PNGs. 

Of course, not everyone loves or continues to use these stock apps. Many people have a different preference for browsers, image viewers, media players, image editors, and more. 

Can’t Change Windows 10 Default Apps

When you install a different app on Windows 10, it may or may not ask to be set as the default app for the types of files it handles. In case it doesn’t ask to be set as the default app, you will have to make the change manually. 

Unfortunately, sometimes when users change default apps on Windows 10 to a different/non-stock app, the change doesn’t stick. Files, when they’re double-clicked, continue to open in the original default apps. 

1. Change default apps on Windows 10

If the app you installed asked to be set as the default app for its file type, and it provided you a UI to do so, it may not have worked. In that case, you need to manually change the default app.

  1. Open the Settings app (Win+I keyboard shortcut).
  2. Go to Apps>Defaults Apps.
  3. Click an app type, and select the new default app from the list.

Change default apps on Windows 10

2. Change default app from file properties

You can set the default app for a file type from the file itself. For example, if you have an MP3 file on your desktop, you can set a default app to open it from the file’s properties.

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Navigate to the file you want to set a default app for.
  3. Right-click the file and select Properties from the context menu.
  4. Go to the General tab.
  5. Click Change.
  6. Select the new default app from the menu.
  7. Click OK and open the file.

cant set default apps on windows 10 change default programs settings page easily 1 Can’t Set Default Apps on Windows 10: Change Default Programs (Settings Page) Easily

3. Change default app from Open With menu

You can change the default app from the Windows 10 Open With option. 

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Navigate to the file you want to set a default app for.
  3. Right-click the file and select Open With from the context menu.
  4. Select the Choose another app option at the bottom of the sub-menu.
  5. In the window that opens, select the new default app.
  6. Enable the ‘Always use this app to open file type’ option.
  7. Click OK and open the file.

cant set default apps on windows 10 change default programs settings page easily 2 Can’t Set Default Apps on Windows 10: Change Default Programs (Settings Page) Easily

4. Change default app by file extension

Default apps can be set by file extension e.g. an app that will open all MP3 files or OGG files.

  1. Open the Settings app (Win+I keyboard shortcut).
  2. Go to Apps>Default apps.
  3. Scroll down and click Choose default apps by file type.
  4. Look for the file extension for the type of file you want to set a default app for.
  5. Click Choose a default or the app that’s currently set as the default.
  6. Select a different app.

cant set default apps on windows 10 change default programs settings page easily 3 Can’t Set Default Apps on Windows 10: Change Default Programs (Settings Page) Easily

5. Set default by app

Some apps can automatically set themselves as the default app for certain file types but most of them do not have this option. Windows 10 does, however, allow users to set defaults by app.

  1. Open the Settings app (Win+I keyboard shortcut).
  2. Go to Apps>Defaults apps.
  3. Scroll down and click Set defaults by app.
  4. Select an app and click Manage.

cant set default apps on windows 10 change default programs settings page easily 4 Can’t Set Default Apps on Windows 10: Change Default Programs (Settings Page) Easily

  1. Click the app that is set for a file type.
  2. Select the app you want to set from the menu.

cant set default apps on windows 10 change default programs settings page easily 5 Can’t Set Default Apps on Windows 10: Change Default Programs (Settings Page) Easily

6. Uninstall and reinstall app

Windows 10 may not be to blame for the default app not being set. It is possible that there is a problem with the installation.

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Select the app you’re trying to set as the default app for a file type.
  3. Click Uninstall at the top.
  4. Once uninstalled, reinstall the app and try the above methods to set it as the default app.

Conclusion

Windows 10 sometimes struggles to change the default app for a certain type of file but, generally speaking, it has gotten better at handling these types of changes. Changing the default app for a file type is not something that requires admin rights so the above fixes can be applied by a user with normal rights however, in some cases, a system admin can force users to use a particular app and in that case, you will not be able to change the default app for a file without permission fro the system admin.

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