How to change default programs on Windows 11

Oct 27, 2021
Windows 11 Help

Prior to Windows 10, changing the default program for a specific file format used to be simple. Usually, applications have an option to associate it with some extensions. Windows 10 made it a bit complicated to switch default app handlers, and drew criticism from users.

Windows 11 Settings Apps

Microsoft Edge, for example, is the default browser in the operating system. Even if you installed a different browser, you can't just set it as the default web browser just like that. Mozilla managed to bypass this restriction when Firefox 91 was released, but other programs aren't so lucky, and need an extra step.

How to change default programs on Windows 11

1. Open the Settings app.


2. Click on Apps, in the sidebar.

Windows 11 Default Apps

3. Now, on the right pane, select Default apps.

There are two methods that you can use to change the default programs. We'll take a look at both options. If you want an easier method, check the last section of this article.

How to set a default program for a file type or link type on Windows 11

1. Place the cursor in the text box at the top of the screen.

Windows 11 Default Apps Screen

2. Tap the . key (period), followed by the file extension. E.g. .TXT or .MP3

Windows 11 Default Apps Search for file type

3. A new option will be displayed below the search bar, it mentions the file type and the name of the program that is currently its default handler. Click on it, and a list appears, it shows you the applications that are available on your computer.

How to set a default program for a file type or link type on Windows 11

4. Select the one you want to use as the default program for the type. e.g. If you switched the text editor from Notepad to Wordpad, and want to revert the change, you can type .TXT, then click on the result, and select Notepad.

Difference between changing the default apps on Windows 10 and Windows 11

This where things took a turn for the worse in Windows 11. Windows 10 users may notice a difference on this screen. The OS has a section called Default Apps, which listed key application handlers like the Music Player, Video Player, Web Browser, etc.

windows 10 set default apps

Microsoft removed this section from Windows 11, making it a bit more difficult to change the default programs.

How to set defaults for applications on Windows 11

1. Access the Settings App > Apps > Default Apps.

Windows 11 Default Apps List

2. The second part of this screen displays a long list of programs.

3. You may scroll through the list till you find the application you want, or use the search bar to find the program instantly.

Windows 11 Default Apps Search

4. Click on the program's name in the results, and Windows 11 will display the file types that the application is set to open. The list varies with each program. E.g. Microsoft Edge is the default program to open various link types such as .HTM, .HTML, .MHT, .MHTML etc. Your music player could be handling specific file formats like .AAC, .MP3, .FLAC, .WAV, etc.

Windows 11 Default Apps Settings


5. Select a file type (or link type) on this screen, and Windows will prompt you to select a different program.

How to set defaults for applications on Windows 11

Simplest method to set default programs for file types on Windows 11

1. Open File Explorer.

How to change default programs on Windows 11

2. Right-click on a file.

3. Select Open With > Choose Another App.

4. Pick a different program from the list, or use the "More Apps" option to access other programs (including portable applications.)

change default programs on Windows 11

5. Tick the box that says,"Always use this app to open .[EXTENSION_TYPE] files.

That's it, now you know how to set the default apps on Windows 11.

How to change default programs on Windows 11
Article Name
How to change default programs on Windows 11
We show you three ways on how to change default programs on Windows 11.
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  1. John G. said on October 27, 2021 at 11:35 pm

    Nice and useful article! Thanks @Ashwin! :]

  2. Trey said on October 28, 2021 at 8:29 am

    I guess we’ll be waiting for 3rd party app heros to offer solutions to the nonsense again. When did MS stop eating their own dog food, anyway?

  3. Benjamin said on October 28, 2021 at 9:30 pm

    That i why i blocked the “upgrade” to the latest version… as i was already sick of the behaviour in windows 10 i find the latest incarnation even sicker… my favorite is to leave this to the user and let all! user manageable applications the option to get file type handling back… my foto, my music, my video, my browser application..,

  4. Dirgster said on October 28, 2021 at 10:54 pm

    Your instructions will be very helpful once I have downloaded and installed Windows 11 when it arrives for me. Thanks!

    Is it necessary to create a USB recovery drive before downloading Windows 11?

  5. Robert Baker said on December 3, 2021 at 4:37 pm

    None of this is good for anything as long as Windows just resets the defaults back to the Microsoft apps anyway. It seems MS sets the bar so high for what an app must do to be allowed to stay a default, that few apps can qualify. Is it a coincidence that this policy strongly discourages users from moving away from MS apps?

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