When Windows 10 attempts to open any sort of file it will try and do that with a specific default program and this is known as ‘file association’. The most basic examples of this are video files will be opened by Windows Media Player, and images will be opened with Windows Photo viewer by default.

We’re going to show you how to change how to change a file association so you can select which program will open a certain file type by default. Thankfully it’s nice and easy to do.

When opening any file on your PC or laptop, Windows will choose a program that it thinks is most appropriate. 

This means there's likely a default app on your device for opening a PDF, JPG image or mp3 audio file. However, it's not perfect, and can be frustrating when it opens the file in a program that you have no intention of using. 

The key to fixing this is to change the file association, which gives Windows a new set of default programs to use for specific file types. Here's how to customise it to your liking.

How to set default programs in Windows 10

There are two ways to go about this. For a one-off, the process is simple:

  1. Right-click on the file that you wish to open and select ‘Open with,’ from the menu
    Windows 10 open with
  2. Windows will then show a list of programs that this file can be opened with, simply select your preferred program from this list
  3. If you don’t see your preferred program from the list, but know you have it on your computer, then click ‘More Apps,’ and find your preferred app in the expanded list

However, you may also wish to do this on a larger scale, and this is possible from settings:

  1. Search for your Settings in your Windows search bar at the bottom left, and open them up
  2. Select the ‘Apps’ option from the list
  3. Now select ‘Default apps’ from the column on the left
  4. Scroll down until you see an option that says  ‘Choose default apps by file type'. Click this, and you will now be presented with a list of all the file types that Windows 10 supports and the applications they are currently associated with
  5. Scroll down until you see an option which says ' Find the file type that you wish to change the file association for and a drop-down menu should appear
    Windows 10 change file association
  6. Select your preferred application from the list that appears and click its corresponding icon
  7. If there isn’t an application to select you can download a compatible one, or click “Look for an app in the store"

Once you’ve selected this, you’re done. Your files will now open with the applications you have selected for them. Simple as that.

While you're here, check out our full range of Windows tutorials