How does Windows know which application or program to use to open all the different file types on your computer? It comes down to file associations. Windows associates each file type with a program capable of opening that file type, but you also have some choices in this regard!
Imagine, for example, that you just installed Adobe Photoshop on your PC. From now on, you want Windows to use Photoshop to open .jpg files, but currently Windows always opens .jpg files using the default Photos app included with Windows 10.
Below, we will show you some methods to change file associations in Windows 10 so that your files open with your preferred app.
How to change Windows 10 file associations in File Explorer
One way to tell Windows which applications to open a particular file type is through File Explorer. In the example below, the JPG file opens in Microsoft Photos and we’ll change the file association so that the JPG file opens in Adobe Photoshop.
- Open File Explorer. An easy way to do that is to press Win + E.
- Navigate to the folder containing the file whose association you want to change.
- Right click file and select Open with. (Note: If you don’t see Open withhold Change then right-click the file.)
- Even if you see the program you want to associate with that file type in the list, select Choose another app. (If you just select the program from the list displayed, the file will open in that application this time, but the default file association will not change.
- A pop-up will appear asking you how you want to open this file. Select the app you want to associate with your file type and check the box next to it Always use this app to open [filetype].
- Note: If you don’t see the app you want to associate with this file type in Another choice list, scroll down and select Search for an app in Microsoft Store. Alternatively, if you have installed a program that does not appear in the list, select More apps and navigate to the app you want.
- Once you have selected the program you want to associate with this file type, select ALRIGHT. From now on, files of that type will automatically open in the app you selected.
Another way to change Windows 10 file associations in File Explorer
Windows File Explorer provides a second way to specify which programs should open files of a certain type. This technique works the same way as the one above. You have to choose how you want to do it.
- Open File Explorer and navigate to the folder containing the file whose association you want to change.
- Option file and make sure Home menu tab is active. On the toolbar ribbon, select Characteristic. (Besides, right click on the file and select Characteristic.)
- In the Properties panel, select Change button.
- Continue from Step 5 in Method A above.
Change file association via Control Panel
You can also use the Control Panel to change file associations in Windows 10. Here’s how.
- Open Dashboard. An easy way to do this is to press Win + CHEAPtyping control and then select ALRIGHT.
- Option Default program.
- Next, choose Associate a file type or protocol with a program.
- inside Default Apps window displayed, select Choose default apps by file type.
- Next, find the file type in the list on the left below Name. In our example, we’ll look for .jpg.
- Select the default program to the right of the file type association you want to change. The Choose an app control panel will appear. Select the app you want to associate with the file type and you’re done!
Change file association in Windows settings
Sometimes you may want an application to open every file type it can. In that case, instead of associating each file type with the application one by one, you can tell Windows to use that application to open any file type it can handle.
For example, you might want your favorite web browser to open web pages, no matter what type of file they are. Here’s how to do it.
- Open Windows Settings by pressing Win + I.
- Option Application.
- In the list on the left, select Default Apps.
- You can now choose default apps for things like email, maps, music, photos, videos, or web browsing. Instead, change the default web browser from Google Chrome so that all website file types are associated with Firefox. Below Web browser, select the default application listed. In this case, it’s Google Chrome.
- Next, select the app you want from the list. We will choose Firefox.
That’s it! Firefox now has associations with all the file types it can handle.
Bonus: How to View File Extensions in Windows 10 File Explorer
In the previous section, we searched for file extensions in the list. If you use that method, you’ll need to know the file extension that you want to associate with a particular application.
Configuring Windows File Explorer to display file extensions in filenames is quick and easy. Just open the file explorer by pressing Win + E. Then choose View on the menu ribbon. Finally, check the box next to File name extension.
You should now be able to see the file extension for any files in that directory.
Save time for yourself
By following one of the methods above, you’ll save yourself some extra time and frustration. Taking a moment to change your file associations so that your files open in the apps you want is a gift you can give yourself in the future!