If you do not pay attention during app and software installations on Windows 8, you may end up with the wrong program being the default application that files open with. This is especially troublesome on Windows 8 as you may end up with a Windows Store app being the default program for file types which would mean that open those files on the system would always result in the opening of a full screen app on the system.
Even more problematic than that is when a file type is suddenly assigned to a program that can't really process it at all. Windows 8 comes with options to set associations for programs and file types. Good news is, you do not have to hack Registry entries anymore or click through a large folder hierarchy to do that.
There are two core options to change file associations in Windows 8, and both are controlled via the Default Programs control panel applet. To open it press the Windows key, enter default and click on Default Programs in the results.
Here you see the following two options:
The first option is ideal if you have a favorite program that you want all supported file types to open in. If you are using VLC Media Player for instance, you may want it to play all media files automatically, and not Windows Media Player, another program or store app.
A list of programs is displayed in a new window when you select the first option. When you select a program here, you get two options that you can configure:
The first option again associates all file types a program supports with it. Sometimes, this is not desired. Maybe you want a program to only open some file types. For VLC, you may want it to open all video file types, but not audio file types which it supports as well as you have an audio player for that. The second option needs to be selected in this case to only associate specific file types with the program. Note that you can also uncheck file associations here that you do not want the selected program to open when you double-click them.
This option displays all known file extensions in a table. Here you see the extensions, a description, and the program the file type is associated with.
To change a file association double-click on it. This triggers Windows' "how do you want to open this type of file" dialog. Here you may see one or multiple programs that can open the file type. A click on more options displays even more programs and an option to look for a suitable app in Windows Store or on the local system.
Please note that the file association will be changed when you select a different program from the list. You can use the menu to fine tune file type associations on Windows 8.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.