How to Set Default Apps in Windows 11

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

  1. Right-click a file in Explorer and select Open with from the menu.
  2. Click on Choose another app.Choose Another App In File Explorer
  3. In the next dialog, select a new app to open the file with.
  4. 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.More Apps Link
  5. Check the option Always use this app to open <file extension> files.Set Default Apps In Windows 11
  6. Click the OK button.

Done. Files with this extension will always open in the selected program.

Change default apps via file properties

  1. Right-click on a file and select Properties.
  2. On the General tab, click on the Change button to the right of the Opens with: text.Change Default Apps Via File Properties
  3. Click on the More apps to see the full list of installed apps and access Store and the file system.
  4. 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

  1. Open the Settings app using the Win + I shortcut.
  2. Click on the Apps entry on the left.
  3. On the right, click on Default apps.Windows 11 Settings Apps Default Apps
  4. Find the app for which you want to change defaults.Find The App
  5. On the next page, click on the app name below the file extension you want to set to a new program.Change Defaults Apps In Windows 11 Settings
  6. In the next window, use the More apps option access the full list of installed apps, Microsoft Store, and local files.Select New Default Program In Windows 11 Settings
  7. 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

  1. Open the Settings app (Win + I), and go to Apps > Default apps.
  2. Click on the link Choose defaults by file type under the Related settings section.Choose Defaults By File Type In Settings
  3. In the list of file extensions, find the file type you want to change the default app for.Select A New Program For File Type
  4. Click on the current app name to select a new program.

Similar to the above, you can change defaults for a protocol (link).

Choose defaults by link type

  1. Open Windows 11 Settings using Win + I or any other method, e.g. the gear icon button in the Start menu.
  2. Open Apps > Default apps.
  3. Find the Choose defaults by link type option in the right pane and click it.Choose Defaults By Link Type In Settings
  4. Scroll down the next page until you see the desired link type, e.g. HTTPS.Choose New App For Link Type
  5. 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.

That's it.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

9 thoughts on “How to Set Default Apps in Windows 11”

  1. This is completely ridiculous! Why can’t we just set a default photo viewer, default video player, default music player like in Windows 10??

      1. I hope they make it like Windows 10, because if I can’t easily set all of my default apps, I just won’t upgrade to Windows 11.

        This is so stupid, it’s like they are doing it on purpose just to force people to use their stupid defaults.

  2. So we are gonna need you to add a section to winaero tweaker to allow the user to change the default music, video, web browser, image viewer apps in one button press like in windows 10.
    Even windows 7 had this ability.
    Sigh, microsoft…

  3. I’m trying to set Irfanview to open JPG, JPEG, PNG filetypes and there is no way this can be done in Win 11. I can open them temporarily in Irfanview but the default is always with Photos.

  4. Sergey,
    with the latest versions of Windows 11 there is no longer the “Always use this app to open files” option.
    Is it really impossible for you to change the program associated with some extensions (such as .AVI, .JPG, etc.) in Windows 11?
    Microsoft wants to impose its viewers or players, but they are just scarce …

  5. We desperately need registry keys to fix this nonsense without 30 clicks. Problem seems to be the default rights on related registry paths, which would temporarily need to be altered?

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