Microsoft Windows provides a varied number of applications for the different requirements of the users. But, there are some users who prefer to use a substitute for the Microsoft app due to their familiarity and ease of use provided by the other app. Many users prefer to make these alternatives the default apps in their systems. This means that you change the settings so that your preferred app becomes the default. Once it is made the default your files will open in this app automatically and reduce your work of having to open each file manually in the app.
Many users have raised a problem wherein they are not able to change the default apps on their Windows 11 PC. At times users have seen that this setting keeps resetting or their required app is not seen in the list of applications. If you are facing this issue with default apps on your computer, then read this post to get more information. In this article, we have curated some ways that you can try to fix this unable to change default programs issue. It is always recommended to try a system restart before checking any other fixes. Perform a system restart and then move ahead with the fixes mentioned below.
Table of Contents
Fix 1 – Try the Methods to Change the Default Apps
1. Change Defaults Based on App
1. Open the Windows Settings page by pressing the Windows and I key combination.
2. In the Settings window, select the Apps tab in the left panel.
Moving over to the right panel, click on Default apps to open the Defaults apps page.
This page lists all the applications on your PC and allows you to set defaults for them.
3. In our case we want to set Firefox as our default browser app.
For that, in the search box below Set defaults for applications, type the name of the program (in our case firefox) which you would like to make the default.
Click on the app name in the search result list below.
4. This opens up the applications Default apps settings page. On this page, you will see a number of file extensions that can be associated with this particular app.
Here, click on the Set default button at the top to make this app your default application.
In our case, clicking this button will make Firefox the default browser for all the file types that are listed on this page.
5. Close the Settings window once a checkmark appears next to the button.
If you don’t see the Set default button, it means that you don’t have the latest update installed on your PC. You can either update your PC or perform the steps mentioned below by clicking on each file type and choosing the app of your interest.
1. Once you are on the Default apps page for the app of your choice (Firefox in our case), click on the box below .htm (or any file extension) file type.
This opens up a window asking how you want to open the files of this type.
Here, choose the app of your choice from the list.
Then, click on OK.
2. Once this change is done, repeat the above Step 1 for all the other file extensions in the list.
Click on each file extension entry and then associate it with the app of your choice.
Once you complete this, all the file extensions will be associated with the default app.
2. Change Based on File Type and Link Type
A. Based on File Type
1. Hit the Windows key and type default apps in the Windows search bar.
Here, click on the Default apps in the search result.
2. On the Default apps page, scroll down and click on Choose defaults by file type.
This opens up a page with a list of all the file extensions and the associated app for opening it.
3. In the textbox below Set defaults for file types, type the file extension of your choice like .txt, .mp3, .pdf, .png and so on.
4. On typing the search key, it displays a entry below this text box. You will see the file type and the default app for it.
Click on this result.
In the window that appears, choose the application that you wish to make the default for this file type.
Click on OK.
For instance, if you have changed the .txt files to open with Wordpad and you want to revert the default to Notepad. Then, type .txt in the search bar, click on the displayed result, and choose Notepad from the list of apps.
B. Based on Link Type
1. Open the Default Apps page in Settings as mentioned above.
2. Here, scroll to the bottom and click on Choose defaults by link type.
On this page, you will see the different link types or protcols and their associated default applications.
3. Type the link type in the text box below Set defaults for link types else you can scroll and search for the specific link type.
On finding your required link type, click on the box that shows the default app for this link type.
4. This opens up a window with the list of applications from which you can choose one to be set as default.
Here, select a application of your choice from the list.
Click on OK.
C. Change Based on File Type or Link Type
If you know the file type or link type you can directly perform a search from the Default apps page and make the change.
1. Go to the Default apps page as mentione above.
2. On the Default apps page, you will see Set a default for a file type or link type.
Here, you can set default apps based on the file extensions or select the default apps for the different protocols or link types like HTTP, HTTPS, and so on.
3. To search for a file type, place your cursor in the text box below Set a default for a file type or link type.
Here, tap the . (period) key followed by the file extension like .txt, .docx, .mp4 and so on.
4. Once you type the search keyword, a new entry is displayed below the search box.
It shows you the file type and the current default application for that file type.
5. Click on the shown result.
You will see a window that displays a list of applications on your system from which you can choose a default.
Select a program in the list that you would want to make the default. Click on OK.
6. You can follow similar steps 3 – 5 for link types like HTTP, HTTPS, MAILTO, FTP, and so on.
3. Change Open With
For the app that you want to make the default, you should have that particular file type on your system. For example, if you want PNG files to always open in GIMP rather than opening in the Photos app. To make this change, you need to find the PNG file. You can work with any file type of your choice pdf, docx, pptx, and so on.
1. Find the PNG file on your system.
Right-click on this file and go to the option Open with.
2. On reaching this option, it opens up a sub-menu with a number of applications that you can choose from.
In this sub-menu, select Choose another app even if you see the app of your interest in the list.
3. In the window asking How do you want to open this file, select the app from the list which you want to make the default for this file type.
In our case, we will choose GIMP as the default app to open files of the type PNG.
4. Then, make a check in the box labeled Always use this app to open .png files.
Next, click on OK to confirm and save the changes.
5. If you are not able to find the required app in this list, then click on the link More apps.
Now, even after clicking on More apps if your app is not displayed, scroll down the entire list of apps here.
Click on Look for another app on your PC and then make a manual search for this application in your system.
4. Change From Properties
Using the properties of a file, you can change the default app for a particular file type.
1. Right-click on the file for which the change needs to be done.
Here, choose Properties from the context menu that opens.
2. Once the Properties window is open, go to the General tab.
Then, click on the Change… button that is associated with Open with.
3. In the window that opens with a list of apps, select the app that you want as the default for this file type.
Click on OK to confirm.
4. Back in the Properties window, click on Apply and then on OK to save the changes made to this file type.
Fix 2 – Reset to Default Settings
1. Just press and hold the Windows and R keys together to open Run.
2. Type ms-settings:defaultapps and hit Enter to open the Default apps on the Apps Settings page.
3. In the Default apps window, scroll down until you see the section Reset all default apps.
Here, click on the Reset button at the right end.
On clicking this, all the default apps will be changed back to Microsoft Apps.
4. Restart your computer.
5. After startup, make the required changes to the default apps and check if you are able to select the apps of your interest.
Fix 3 – Uninstall the App
At times, users have reported that they are not able to locate the app of their interest on the PC or a particular app is not being set as default after following the above steps. In this case, you need to uninstall the app.
1. Press Windows + R to open Run.
Type ms-settings:appsfeatures and hit Enter to open the Apps & features page.
2. Here, locate the app in the list of installed apps on your system.
Click on the three-dots menu at the right end of the app to open a sub-menu.
Here, choose Uninstall.
3. In the confirmation pop-up, click on Uninstall again to confirm the process.
4. Reboot your PC after the application is uninstalled.
5. After startup, download the app installer and install the app again.
Check if you are able to set the app as the default by trying the method mentioned above.
Fix 4 – Select Another App
1. While setting a default, first select another app as default rather than the one of your choice.
2. Once this is set, restart your PC.
3. After startup, make the change to the default app of your choice.
For example, if you are making the change for the browser to Firefox instead of Google Chrome, then first choose another browser like Edge and then make the change to Firefox. Many users have reported this fix has helped them resolve the issue of changing default apps.
Fix 5 – Check for Default Setting in the App
Open the application that you are trying to make default, and check if it has any settings of its own to set it as a default program. Enable this option if any is available in the app itself.
Fix 6 – Check Any Recently Installed Programs
Have you installed any program that has a similar file type whose default app you are trying to modify?
Check any such app and uninstall it from your system following steps 1- 3 mentioned in Fix 3 above.
Else, you can see if there is any setting in the app to disable it from being the default application.
Once you have done either of the above, reboot your PC. Then, check if the issue with respect to changing default apps is resolved.
Fix 7 – Change From Local Account to Microsoft Account
If you are using a local account then there are chances that such issues can arise. To overcome this problem, perform the steps below to switch to a Microsoft Account.
1. Use the Windows and I keys to open Windows Settings.
Click on the Accounts tab in the left pane of the Settings window that opens.
2. Move over to the right pane and select the box with the text Your info to see account information.
3. Once you are on the Your info Accounts page, locate the Account settings section.
Here you will notice that you are logged in to Windows using a Local account.
Click on the link Sign in with a Microsoft account instead that is seen below this.
4. Enter the login credentials (username and password) for the Microsoft account which you want to use to sign in.
Now, check if you are able to set the default app using the methods mentioned above.
If in Step 3 you don’t see the option Sign in with a Microsoft account instead, then follow the steps below to add a Microsoft Account.
1. Go to the Accounts page in Settings as indicated above in Step 1.
Here, click on Email & accounts on the right side.
2. On this page, scroll down and locate the section Accounts used by other apps.
Click on the link Add a Microsoft account in the box next to Add accounts.
Add your account details which are your username and password.
3. Restart your system once you have added a Microsoft account.
On startup, use the same account that you added to log in to Windows.
Fix 8 – Remove Microsoft Account and Add Again
1. Press Windows + R to open the Run dialog.
Type ms-settings:accounts and hit Enter to go to the Accounts Settings page.
2. Here, click on Email & accounts.
3. On the Email & accounts page, look for the section Accounts used by other apps.
Click on your Microsoft account in the list of accounts displayed in this section to expand the box.
3. Now, click on the Remove button next to Remove account. This will remove your Microsoft account from this PC.
4. If the Remove option is not available, then click on the button Manage.
This will take you to your account settings in the browser.
Click on Devices to see all the devices using this Microsoft account.
Look for your current device and click on the link See details to open the information page for this device.
Then, click on Remove this device to unlink this device from your account.
5. Reboot your computer. After startup, add the Microsoft account again using the steps mentioned in fix 8 above.
Fix 9 – Check for Windows Update
1. Press Windows + R to open Run.
Type ms-settings:windowsupdate and hit Enter.
2. This opens up the Windows Update page in Settings.
On this page, click on the Check for updates button to let Windows check for any new updates to the system.
3. If any new updates are available, download and install them.
4. Restart your computer after the installation of new updates is complete.
Check if you are able to modify the default apps after startup.
Thanks for reading.
We hope this article has cleared your problems related to changing the default apps on your Windows 11 PC. Did you find the methods in this article informative enough in resolving your issue? Please let us know your opinions as well as the fix that worked for you in the comments below.
A software engineer turned into an educator with vast teaching experience in universities. Currently working towards my passion for writing.