An Explanation Of Windows Software Usage

How To Change Defaults Programs

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 PROGRAM ACCESS AND COMPUTER DEFAULTS which allows you to set the default (normally used) Web Browser, E-Mail Client and Media Player.

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).

Windows 10 Control Panel

Fig 1.0  Click on the DEFAULT PROGRAMS link to continue

Windows 10 Control Panel

Fig 1.1  The Default Programs window - Click on the SET PROGRAM ACCESS AND COMPUTER DEFAULTS link.

When the Default Programs window appears click on the SET PROGRAM ACCESS AND COMPUTER DEFAULTS 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).

Windows 10 Control Panel

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 for e-mail, internet browsing, music and so on. In this example I am going to change the default web browser from Firefox to Microsoft Edge. I do this by scrolling down the page (Default Apps settings window) until I reach the heading called WEB BROWSER, where the Firefox icon is underneath it, and then click on the Firefox icon. Doing so brings up an options menu whereby I can either choose (left click on) Microsoft Edge or look for an alternative web browser by left clicking on the LOOK FOR AN APP IN THE STORE option (menu-item/link). In this example I clicked on the MICROSOFT EDGE menu-item.

Windows 10 Control Panel

Fig 1.3  Click on the MICROSOFT EDGE menu-item (link/icon) to make Microsoft Edge the default web browser

Windows 10 Control Panel

Fig 1.4  Microsoft Edge is now the default web browser

You follow exactly the procedure for changing the default music program, default e-mail program and so on. As a result: Once your chosen programs have been set as their 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.


If you want to open a music file, for example, manually but at the same time have the choice of which program to open that music file with - Right click over the file to bring up its context (options) menu and from there hover over the OPEN WITH sub-menu and either select a program from the list or click on the CHOOSE ANOTHER APP sub-menu menu-item (Fig 2.0 below). You can also click on the SEARCH THE STORE menu-item, which will take you to the Microsoft Store to find an alternative music program.

Note - Once a program has been installed from the APP store, it will NOT be set as the default program. You will need to set it as the default yourself; as described above. Also: The file might not be played automatically, even if the program is launched by the APP store (i.e. a media player might install and open, but then wait for you to manually select/play an audio file).

One thing to remember is that if you select a listed program, such as the Microsoft Media Player program, your music file will be opened with that listed music program now, but only now. After that it will open with its normal defaulted music program (i.e. iTunes or Microsoft Groove), when double clicked on for example, until you use this right click option again.

Windows 10 Control Panel

Fig 2.0  Select a listed program (i.e. Microsoft Media Player) to open a file with that program

If you clicked on the CHOOSE ANOTHER APP sub-menu menu-item, you will be able to choose the exact program your music file is to be opened with, by default. In this example the Song.m4a music file defaults to being opened with iTunes. By using the OPEN WITH requester (below), that appears after clicking on the CHOOSE ANOTHER APP sub-menu menu-item, you can select a default program for the music file.

Windows 10 Control Panel

Fig 2.1  Select MICROSOFT GROOVE, tick the option ALWAYS USE THIS APP..... and the click on OK

The Open With program requester allows you to open the file you right clicked on with a program of your choice. However, that is for one time only; as mentioned above. To set that selected, other/alternative, program you must also tick the option ALWAYS USE THIS APP..... before clicking on the OK button (Fig 2.1 above).


If you cannot see the program you want to use, because it is not immediately listed but is installed on your computer, you can click on the MORE APPS link to expand the list of programs.

Windows 10 Control Panel

Fig 2.2  Click on the MORE APPS link to expand the list of other programs

Windows 10 Control Panel

Fig 2.3  There are now more programs to choose from

And if you still cannot see the program you want to use, but know it is installed, you can browse your computer for it by clicking on the LOOK FOR ANOTHER APP ON THIS PC link (Fig 2.3 above).


Answer. Search the internet and so on to find out what each particular file extension is used with. For example: If you search for the .mp3 file extension you will find it is used with audio files whereas the .png file extension is used with graphic files. A file with the .wma file extension, which is used with audio files, can be played with iTunes or Windows Media Player for example. How do I know this? Answer. I check which media players can play a certain type of file extension. Something you should do when checking what each file extension is used with. An excellent place to start is on this File Extensions website.

More than likely you will have an alternative program to view/play .wmv files (such as Windows Media Player) but do not take this for granted. And even if you do have an alternative program you might not always like it performance/quality, which is one of the reasons for using OPEN WITH. Sometimes a Plug-In/Add-On (extension program) is available for a particular program that allows it to then view/play a particular file type/format. Search the internet for more information.

When you have already used the OPEN WITH program requester, the second time around and thereafter the OPEN WITH sub-memu menu-items display some or all of the other programs you have previously used to open a file, depending on whether or not a program was suitable/installed. For example: A Photo Viewer will not be listed if you want to open an audio file, whereas it might be listed if you want to open a picture file. Obviously, from what has been explained on this website and through your own research, you will know that Notepad for example is not a suitable program for opening a .m4a (Song.m4a) audio file.