You can set default apps in Windows 11 using a variety of methods. The newest operating system comes with a bunch of options, starting from the Settings app, and ending with File Explorer. Let's review them.
A default app is the software that handles a file of the specific type or a protocol (e.g. a web link). Windows assigns such apps by default to some of built-in apps. For example, RTF files open in WordPad, TXT files open in Notepad, Edge is the default browser for web links, and so on.
Default apps are set per user account, and can be customized on demand. This post will show you a number of way to set default apps in Windows 11.
Set Default Apps in Windows 11
- Right-click a file in Explorer and select Open with from the menu.
- Click on Choose another app.
- In the next dialog, select a new app to open the file with.
- If you don't see the required app, click on More apps. Use the Look for an app in the Microsoft Store and Look for another app on this PC options to access even more apps that may be missing in the list.
- Check the option Always use this app to open <file extension> files.
- Click the OK button.
Done. Files with this extension will always open in the selected program.
Change default apps via file properties
- Right-click on a file and select Properties.
- On the General tab, click on the Change button to the right of the Opens with: text.
- Click on the More apps to see the full list of installed apps and access Store and the file system.
- Once selected a new app, click on OK to set it as the new default program for all files of this type.
These are the classic methods which work in many versions of Windows, not only in Windows 11. The next method I would like to review is the Settings app.
Change Defaults Apps in Windows 11 Settings
- Open the Settings app using the Win + I shortcut.
- Click on the Apps entry on the left.
- On the right, click on Default apps.
- Find the app for which you want to change defaults.
- On the next page, click on the app name below the file extension you want to set to a new program.
- In the next window, use the More apps option access the full list of installed apps, Microsoft Store, and local files.
- Once you choose the app, click on OK to apply the change.
However, this is not the only option you can change in Settings. The app allows you to specify the default apps per file type and per link/protocol. The latter is useful when you need to set the default web browser or mail app.
Choose defaults by file type in Settings
- Open the Settings app (Win + I), and go to Apps > Default apps.
- Click on the link Choose defaults by file type under the Related settings section.
- In the list of file extensions, find the file type you want to change the default app for.
- Click on the current app name to select a new program.
Similar to the above, you can change defaults for a protocol (link).
- Open Windows 11 Settings using Win + I or any other method, e.g. the gear icon button in the Start menu.
- Open Apps > Default apps.
- Find the Choose defaults by link type option in the right pane and click it.
- Scroll down the next page until you see the desired link type, e.g. HTTPS.
- Click on the current app name to select a new one.
Note: When switching from default apps like Edge or Mail, Windows 11 may show an extra confirmation to ask you to stay with the Microsoft software defaults. In this case, clicking on Switch anyway is required to see the list of available apps.
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