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The best example for me is Microsoft’s Reader application for reading PDF files. I prefer to use Adobe Acrobat (or Adobe Reader if I’m using a computer that doesn’t have Acrobat installed) to read PDF files because I’m more familiar with it. And although I can just open Acrobat and then find the PDF file that I want to read / edit, there are cases where I just double click on a PDF file to open it, such as when I receive a PDF file attached in an email or via a link on a website.
When I used to do that, Acrobat would open automatically, but after installing Windows 8 and then 10, the Microsoft Reader application would open instead. That application also opened automatically when I created a PDF from another program like Word. And it’s not just Reader. Most of the defaults are set for Microsoft’s built-in apps instead of third-party programs that you prefer, like Edge browser instead of Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc. And it even happens with standalone Microsoft programs – I use Outlook for email, for example, but the default for Windows 10 is the Mail app.
How to change file associations in Windows 11
- Right-click the Start button (or use the WIN + X keyboard shortcut) and select Settings. The WIN + i hotkey also works.
- Select Apps from the left panel and then Default Apps from the right.
- Scroll to the bottom and select Choose defaults by file type.
- Click or tap one of the file types in the list.
- Choose a program from the pop-up list or choose Find an app in the Microsoft Store.
- Select OK to save. From now on, Windows will open that program when you open a file with that extension from File Explorer.
How to change file associations in Windows 10
- Right-click the Start button (or use the WIN + X hotkey) and choose Settings.
- Select Applications from the list.
- Choose Default apps on the left.
- Scroll down a bit and select Choose default apps by file type.
- Find the file extension for which you want to change the default program.
- In the Choose default applications by file type window, select the program to the right of the file extension. If there isn’t one listed, select Choose a default value instead.
- In the Pick an application pop-up window, choose a new program to associate with that file extension. If there isn’t a list you want to use, try Finding an app in the Store.
- Windows 10 will now open the program you chose every time you open a file with that extension from File Explorer.
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