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How to change file associations in Windows 10

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By Jon Martindale


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If you’ve ever run into the problem of Windows trying to open up a file in entirely the wrong application, you’re not alone. Although you can get around it using the “Open with,” command,there is a way to make sure you don’t have to do that every time: Learn how to change file associations.

Note: If you aren’t sure which file type that you want to change the association of, right-click the particular file and click “Properties,” from the resulting menu. Look for “Type of file,” at the top of the properties window. The three-letter designation next to that is its file type. You can do it on an individual file type basis, or change all of them from one location.

Changing one file

The quickest method to change a single file type is to do it from that “Open with,” menu we mentioned. The only problem is you can only change one file type at a time. If you want to change more than one file type, skip on to the next section.

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Step 1: Right-click on a file of the type you wish to change the association for.

Step 2: Select “Open with,” from the resulting menu.

Step 3: Windows will then offer you an app or a list of apps that can act as the default for that file type. If you see the one you want, select it and make sure that the box labeled “Always use this app to open [file type] files” is ticked.

If you don’t see your preferred app, either search for one using the “Look for an app in the Store,” button, or click “More apps,” for an expanded list of already installed applications.

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Step 4: When you’ve found the app you want and it has been selected, simple click the grey “OK” button.

From now on, any files of that type will be opened with your chosen application.

Changing any and all

If you want to change a few different file types — or even all of them — then the Settings menu is the best place to go.

Step 1: Press Windows Key and “X” and click “Settings” from the resulting menu.

Alternatively, search for “Settings” in the Windows search bar and click the relevant result.

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Step 2: Select “Apps” from the list of options.

Step 3: Click “Default apps,” from the left-hand menu.

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Step 4: Scroll down if needed, and click “Choose default apps by file type.”

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You’ll then be presented with a list of all of the file types Windows 10 supports with their associated applications on the right-hand side. If a file type doesn’t have a particular application set up to handle it, there will be a grey “+” icon instead.

Step 5: Scroll through the list to find the file type that you want to change the file association for. Click the application or “+” icon to its right.

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Step 6: Choose your preferred application from the list that appears and click its corresponding icon.

In the case of some file types, there will be multiple options, whereas others may have none.

If there isn’t an option, you can either go and download a compatible application from the web yourself, or choose the “Look for an app in the store,” icon, which will take you to the Microsoft Store. In the window that appears, relevant applications that can open the file type in question will be presented to you.

Once you’ve chosen your preferred application, that’s it! Your file associations are changed and your default application for that particular file type will now be the one you want, rather than something else. You can change others or change them back using the same method, but if you ever get a bit too trigger happy with your file associations and just want to reset them to their defaults, here’s our guide on how to reset Windows.


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