Default Programs is a control panel that is split into four programs. Set Your Default Programs, Associate A File Type Or Protocol With A Program, Change AutoPlay Settings and Set Program Access And Computer Defaults. In this section I will explain SET YOUR DEFAULT PROGRAMS, which allows you to set a program as the default (normally used) program while allowing you to set the Protocols and File Types for a program regardless if that program is the default program or not.
To use the Default Programs control panel go to the Control Panel and click on the DEFAULT PROGRAMS icon. This will bring up the Default Programs window (Fig 1.1).
Fig 1.0 Click on the DEFAULT PROGRAMS link to continue
Fig 1.1 The Default Programs window - Click on the SET YOUR DEFAULT PROGRAMS link.
When the Default Programs window appears click on the SET YOUR DEFAULT PROGRAMS link (above) to open the Default Apps settings window (below). The Default Programs window will remain open.
Note - The older control panel options for changing default programs is no longer available.
Note - To open the Default Apps settings window (below) without going through the older control panel: Click on the START Menu, click on SETTINGS, click on APPS (in the Settings window) and then click on the DEFAULT APPS Tab (within the APPS settings window).
Fig 1.2 The Defaults Apps Tab (settings window)
With the Default Apps settings window open (above) you can begin to change the default program file types and protocols by scrolling down the page (Default Apps settings window) until you reach the CHOOSE DEFAULT APPLICATIONS BY FILE TYPE link. Clicking on that link causes a 'list of file types' to be displayed - File types together with their currently associated/assigned default program, if any.
Fig 1.3 A 'list of file types' that can have a default program assigned to them
In the above example there are many file types, such as .3g2 and .3gpp, that use the Film & TV program as their default program whereas the .3mf file type uses the Print 3D program as its default program. Some file types have no default program associated/assigned to them; which is quite normal.
In this next example I am going to change the default program for the .mp3 audio file type, which is currently set to using the Microsoft Groove Music program as its default program. I will change it for iTunes.
I begin by scrolling down the list of file types until I see the .mp3 audio file type and then click on its current default program's icon; in this case, on the GROOVE MUSIC icon (link). Doing so brings up an options (context) menu whereby all I need to do from there is click on the iTunes menu-item (icon/link). iTunes then becomes the default program for the .mp3 file type (Fig 2.1 below). Or put another way: iTunes then becomes the default music player for all .mp3 files.
Fig 2.0 Click on a file type's current default program icon to make changes
Fig 2.1 iTunes is now the default music player for all .mp3 files
You follow exactly the procedure for changing the default program for .html files (website files), .eml files (e-mail files) and so on. As a result: Once your chosen file types have been assigned a default program, other software and programs alike will know which (default) program to use for the Internet, E-Mail, Music, etc. However, this does not mean they have to use the default program. Music programs for example tend to favor iTunes, if it is installed and has access rights (is enabled), even when Windows Media Player is set as the default media player.
Default Programs, the control panel, just makes it easier for software and programs alike to know what the default programs are. You, as a human, can manually open a music file with any program that supports the music file's Type, but when a computer opens a music file it must have some clue as to what program to use with that music file in order to open and play that music file.
One of the main advantages of using the Set Default Programs control panel is that it allows you to set up multiple media players for example. You could have .mp3 files set up to use Windows Media Player, .aiff and .alac files set up to use Apple iTunes and other audio file types to use another default program such as the VLC music player. The same goes for photo file types and photo viewer programs.
The key to using Set Default Programs successfully is knowing which file types are native to a particular program or piece of software. And one of the best ways of knowing is to search the Internet.
A Protocol is a set of File Formats and Procedures that enable computers to exchange information. For example: The FTP (File Transfer Protocol) tells a program, such as Microsoft Eedge, how it should transfer files between two computers whereas the HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) tells a program, such as Microsoft Edge, how to manage Security among other things when shopping online for example. Think of a protocol as a set of rules for a software service/program.
As a beginner you should not concern yourself too much with setting the Protocols for a default program. Saying that: In this next example I will set the Microsoft Edge web browser as the default program for the protocol HTTPS. The Firefox web browser is currently set as the default program for that protocol.
I begin by going back to the Default App settings window (Fig 1.2 above), scroll down that window and click on the CHOOSE DEFAULT APPLICATIONS BY PROTOCOL link. Clicking on that link causes a 'list of protocols' to be displayed (Fig 3.0 below) - Protocols together with their currently associated/assigned default program, if any.
Fig 3.0 A 'list of protocols' that can have a default program assigned to them
With the 'list of protocols' displayed (above), I then scroll down that list until I see the HTTPS protocol (below). I then click on its default program icon (the Firefox icon) in order to change its default program to Microsoft Edge (Fig 3.2 below).
Fig 3.1 Firefox is the current default program for the HTTPS protocol
Fig 3.2 Click on a protocol's current default program icon to make changes
Fig 3.3 Microsoft Edge is now the current default program for the HTTPS protocol
One thing to note here is that the HTTP protocol also got changed, automatically by the Default Programs control panel. This was (is) because HTTP and HTTPS are related protocols. They go together and are therefore changed together; even though you only physically change one or the other. This can happen with media protocols too, so you need to watch out for this scenario. Hence why I say search the internet to get to know what protocols and file types a particular program uses as standard/default.
Hopefully you can see how easy it is too change default programs.....with knowledge of protocols and file types.